Riptide’s Tanner Kempe

Riptide move into first place after tough battle

The U15 Upper Riptide take over first place after battle for the top

The U15 Upper Island Riptide played the Lower Island Saanich/Prospect in a battle for first place in their division Sunday afternoon.

Saanich has been positioned there most recently but with a Riptide win on Sunday the Upper Island team would reclaim that prized top spot.

These teams split their previous two games this season and are widely considered closely matched in terms of skill and physicality. Adding to this, and making the game that much more intense were the extremely wet, slippery conditions the teams contended with at Pinecrest Field.

The teams traded chances in the first half with the Riptide having two glorious chances but getting thwarted by the stellar play of the Saanich keeper. With 17 minutes gone in the first half, a foul called against the Riptide led to a free kick, which the Riptide keeper was not able to corral and the ball bounced to the feet of one of the Saanich players who made it 1-0 Saanich. Though the Riptide pushed hard they were held off the scoreboard the rest of the first half.

Riptide raised their intensity and found another gear for the second half. The team penned Saanich into their own end for much of the rest of the game and created solid chances, but Saanich’s goalkeeper made several fine saves. Finally, the Riptide’s Eugene Park was able to get his foot on a loose ball in the box and put it away, tying the game 1-1.  Knowing that a tie would not be enough to clinch first place, Riptide raised their level of play and with three minutes left in the game, a corner kick taken by Charlie Purcell dropped into the centre of the box and was headed home by Nicholas Mitchell.

The Riptide now have a record of nine wins, three losses, and one tie, giving them 28 points, which puts them in first place in the league – one point ahead of Saannich/Prospect. Riptide’s next game is Sunday, Jan. 25 when they head to Nanaimo to play the fourth place Storm.