Skeleton Crew Takes Down Vancouver Riptide 33-20
On a scorching Sunday in Oakland, a FlameThrowers team with only fifteen active rostered athletes handed the Riptide the second loss of their road trip weekend in a dominating fashion. The San Jose Spiders beat the Riptide first by just a single point the night before.
At the start of the game, the Riptide earned a quick break but after trading a few holds the FlameThrowers confidently fought back to get themselves on serve. Then Patrick Baylis got a run-through block on an under cut and Antoine Davis ripped down a huck to put the home team up by a critical break. The Riptide were shaken and the FlameThrowers broke them again immediately, ending the quarter up by three (8-5).
In the second quarter, the teams traded holds back and forth again before the defensive line earned another block. Moving the disc down the field, Baylis made a possession-saving grab and Michael Spear threw a textbook huck perfectly into the waiting hands of Lior Givol. Justin Lim reeled in another break on the next defensive line possession to expand their lead to five points and it was soon enlarged to seven with several minutes still remaining in the half thanks to smart man defense and strategic pulls. The FlameThrowers entered halftime still up by seven (18-11).
Despite San Francisco’s defensive line forcing an early Vancouver turnover, for most of the third quarter the two teams looked evenly matched. When the buzzer sounded, the home team was still up by the same seven point lead they had entered the quarter with. But whether it was the stress of a road trip or the fatigue of back-to-back games, the Riptide then began to crumble in the fourth quarter.
It took the FlameThrowers only 17 seconds to break the Riptide once the final period started, and their lead continued to grow as they grew more and more confident in their odds of pulling off a win. Within two minutes, it was nine points. Three minutes later, it was eleven. The Riptide players suffered from a combination of unforced drops in the end zone and in the blink of an eye they were down by thirteen points with several minutes of regulation play still remaining. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough time to change the point differential, and the FlameThrowers wound down the clock by trading easy holds with the Riptide. The final score was 33-20 in favor of the home team.
This matchup truly showcased the depth, confidence, and strength of the FlameThrowers roster. Despite missing Mac Taylor, captains Beau Kittredge, Lucas Dallmann, and Greg Cohen, and many more athletes as well, they still earned their largest victory of the season. Players like Marcelo Sanchez, Joel Schlachet, and Sam Kanner proved that they could work both the under cut and deep space at will to create offensive flow, and the defensive line came out firing, earned breaks quickly, converted on them with an extremely high success rate, and kept up their intensity for almost the entire game. Given the fact that every FlameThrowers athlete was on the field for at least 24 points, the quality of game they put out there for the fans was nothing short of admirable.
Sawyer Thompson was named the athlete of the game, with four goals in the final quarter alone for a total of six on the game (in addition to a block and an assist). Afterwards, he said “our D line was really clicking, getting some quick conversions for goals. I’m glad we finally put the pieces together.” Head Coach Ryo Kawaoka agreed, rating the team “A on defense, but B+ on offense. We left some points out there on the field but I think we found our rhythm better with only two lines.” He continued, “I appreciate the effort of the Riptide coming off of another hard-fought game last night.”
Davis, whose spectacular catch later wound up on SportsCenter Top 10, attributed the team’s success to the fact that “we stuck to our fundamentals and didn’t do anything fancy, just relied on our legs.” He added, “thanks for tiring them out, San Jose!”
Five players on the FlameThrowers threw perfect games: Grant Lindsley, Cody Kirkland, Brett Petersen, Schlachet, and Sanchez. Baylis, Cassidy Rasmussen, and Andrew Hagen each earned three blocks, while Sanchez and Vincenzo Vitiello had two apiece. Those two blocks meant that Sanchez finished the game with a +9 rating – the highest of anyone on the team – when combined with his three assists and four goals.
The team is back in action again on Sunday, June 4 when they take on the Los Angeles Aviators! Buy your tickets today for a chance to watch an amazing California rivalry game, the third-to-last home game of the regular season. They are available here.
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