A new rivalry has bubbled up in the adult amateur soccer scene in Richmond and, for once, it doesn't involve the previously all-conquering OldBlacks.
This Thursday, Oct. 14, will see a potentially tasty match-up in the Richmond Adult Soccer Association's (RASA) masters division between the Flying Beaver Athletics and the Rain City Gunners, both of whom have a 100 per cent record after five games.
The OldBlacks have been used to having things their own way for the last nine seasons or so, but find themselves uncharacteristicaly nine points off the top.
The past champions aside, it's actually rather surprising to see the Flying Beaver joint top of the division, given it has had to field three different keepers already this season.
And, as pointed out by the league's resident statitician, Matt Mercer, such a handicap doesn't usually translate into a successful run of form.
"Both teams (Beaver and Rain City) rank one and two in goals for, goals against and goal differential - on paper there isn't much to separate between these two," Mercer told the Richmond News.
"Even though Rain City has multiple goalscorers on the team - they will need to rely on their top goalscorer Farouk Karim, who currently leads the division with five goals and Faizal Karim right behind with four goals.
"In 20 games this season, we've only had four clean sheets; I expect a close game with some goals. 3-2 or 3-3 maybe?"
The Flying Beaver's Keegan White told the News how the pandemic break has been particularly tough on his team, with lots of former players hanging up their boots.
"However, this did give us the opportunity to reconnect with old teammates who have played together through RASA," added White.
With the addition of these new players, the Beaver decided to bring back the "Athletics" name as an homage to the team's name when it played in Division 1.
Meanwhile, Rain City manager Farouk Karim said he's feeling good about the rest of the season ahead after his side's previous struggles with injuries and low numbers.
"This year, we turned over 25 per cent of the team (and) brought in some strong, committed players.
"Two areas that we really improved are defence (especially at CB where we added three new players) and up front with a couple of new strikers to help balance the attack.
"I believe we have eight or nine different goalscorers this year, which was never the case in previous years. Depth has been key."