Riptide U14 defender Sarah Bard (#4) digs deep during a game Saturday.

Riptide girls start year off on right foot

Riptide soccer team faced top team in the league

The Riptide U14 Girls soccer team faced Saanich/Prospect on home turf Saturday in its tenth game of the Vancouver Island Premier League (VIPL) season.

Being the first league game in 2015, Riptide wanted a strong start as they move closer to the VIPL A-Cup Play downs which begin next month.

The challenge?

Riptide U14 girls had registered losses against Saanich in both of their previous match ups to date.

To win against this first place team would be a great confidence booster.

After the Christmas break, Riptide resumed their rigorous training schedule, both indoors and out.

So they felt physically and technically ready for the match up.

It was the mental game that would be most tested and, with such tough competition, they knew that each and every team member would have to deliver.

Little did Riptide know that the test would begin two minutes into the game after Saanich scored a quick goal and took an early lead.

Down by one, Riptide regrouped and settled in to what would be an exciting and full-on commitment game.

After about twenty minutes of balanced play, Riptide tied it up. Frédérica Blouin-Comeau made a powerful shot on net which was stopped by the Saanich keeper.

Capitalizing on the rebound opportunity, Ciara Halvorson charged in to beat the keeper and score Riptide’s first goal of 2015.

Despite looking like it would be a tie going into half, Saanich scored a late goal to regain the lead and Riptide would have to fight back again.

Well into the second half, it was a penalty kick, after Riptide’s Sara McLennan was taken down on a run in front of the Saanich net, which turned the tides.

With a picture perfect kick to the bottom right of the net, Riptide’s Sophie L scored, creating another tie game.

Then, with only a couple minutes left in the game, Kaitlyn Dreger passed to a determined Blouin-Comeau at left midfield.

With a long run and multiple Saanich players in her way, Blouin-Comeau created enough space to deliver a solid left-footer that arched beyond the Saanich keeper’s reach.

The team was thrilled but it wasn’t over yet. Saanich came back with a long shot directly on net which was stopped by Riptide’s keeper, Nicolette Vinnedge, who held firm.

With that, Riptide jubilantly earned their first win against the first-place Saanich team. Final score was 3-2.

“This was an important victory for our girls,” said the coaching trio of Jim Stewart, Lisa Wigard, and Matt Laver. “The Fusion was the only team we hadn’t beaten all season.”

Next up, Riptide faces another tough team in an away game against the Nanaimo Storm on Saturday.

For more information about the Riptide U14 Girls soccer team, sponsored by Lacasse Construction, visit the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/riptide2001girls