With six players from Campbell River on the team (Gary Thiara, John Samuels, Shohei Iwamoto, Eugene Park, Jack Crosby, and Tanner Kempe) the Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide U16 boys very much wanted to christen the new Campbell River turf, Robron Field, with a win on Jan. 31.
This was the Riptide’s last home game of the regular season. Playing against the strong Nanaimo Storm, the players raised their game to a more competitive level in anticipation of VIPL playdowns that begin in two weeks.
The Riptide players’ intensity led to a goal early in the first half. Striker Cullen Buholzer buried a header from Jaylon Grenier’s lovely left foot cross after a great pass from Kempe. The Storm replied with a nice goal of their own shortly thereafter, leading to a tied game at the half.
Early second-half play was very much back and forth, though the Riptide held possession more often than their opposition. Each goalie had to make key saves, with Riptide’s Thiara making a number of truly stellar stops.
Despite great defensive play by the Storm, Darren Hall of the Riptide scored mid-way through the half after nicely receiving an amazing through-ball from centre-back Iwamoto. The Riptide offence continued to press while the Storm’s defensive core did the same. Park, Darren Hall and Charlie Purcell all had good chances but their strikes didn’t find the back of the net.
Riptide head coach Mark Purcell said, “The boys played a great game today. They supported one another. They played as a team. They know that this is part of the season where winning really matters and they rose to the occasion.”
The Riptide’s next game is against Saanich Fusion/Prospect Lake on Sunday, Feb. 7 in Saanich. Game time and field TBD. Check www.leaguelineup.com/VIPL/ for details.
THROW INS The U16 Marine Harvest Upper Island Riptide boys soccer team plays in the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) which consists of high-level teams from Lower Island Soccer Association and Upper Island Soccer Association … the Riptide team is comprised of players from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Quadra Island, Powell River and Port Hardy … the team has made the provincials every year since joining the league – winning the crown in 2014 and placing second in 2015 …