It didn’t go as planned for Pacific FC coach Michael Silberbauer on Sarurday. Neither did it a week before against the Cavalry. But he and his players know that if they are to make a run for the fall season title, it will be by focusing only on what’s directly ahead of them. That happens to be a trip to Ontario to take on York9 FC in just a couple of days.
Here’s how it went down last match:
Pacific FC couldn’t quite handle Forge FC on Saturday. Forge came out strong from the start and caused the Pacific backline all sorts of problems with direct balls and physical play. The Islanders gradually grew into the game, but when the half-time whistle blew, they knew it was due to some good fortune, and terrible finishing from Forge’s Élimane Cissé, that they weren’t trailing. Forge FC outshot the home side 15-6 in the first half.
The only thing that changed in the second half was that those chances got converted. First it was Tristan Borges in the 47th minute. Burnaby’s Terran Campbell then answered by putting in a header at the back post two minutes later, only for Forge to regain the lead in the 54th from the other number 14, Emery Welshman. While Forge tried to play the ball on to their strikers through the air, Pacific FC aimed to stick to their mantra by playing the ball into the feet of their attacking players and getting numbers up the pitch. Midway through the second half they managed to put more pressure on the Hamilton-based team and had them pushed further back into their own end for a spell, yet it was Forge who eventually found the decisive goal via Tristan Borges’ second of the match. It put him ahead of Sergio Camargo for the league lead. The Islanders once again pushed back, and thanks to some quick thinking by Ben Fisk and a convincing finish by Victor Blasco, the game was back to within one with just over 5 minutes remaining. The result was probably what both teams deserved, but despite the loss, coach Michael Silberbauer knows that the positives coming from this game could take this club far if the mistakes holding them back can be eliminated.
Let’s start with the negatives. Defender Hendrik Starostzik didn’t try to sugar-coat it in the post-game press conference. He was quick to point out the defence as the biggest problem for the team right now. “We defend not very well. We defend like boys. We have to defend like men and not like boys. So this is a big thing we have to develop and we have to play without [conceding] a goal” he said, following his 30 minute substitute appearance.
The most troubling part of it, perhaps, is that it wasn’t just a problem last weekend. In three of the last four games they’ve given up three goals.
We have to defend like men and not like boys.Hendrik Starostzik
Pacific’s back line never looked very comfortable on Saturday. They struggled to manage Forge’s physical play and even gave the ball away a few times. When Goalkeeper Nolan Wirth was asked about what he saw from his perspective, he pointed to a lack of communication and getting stretched as areas to improve.
No matter the current problem, it will get a little easier with the return of two centre-backs. On Saturday, Starostzik played his first minutes since the season opener back in April. Lukas MacNaughton is also expected to make a return back from injury soon. The two central defenders were used together for Pacific’s first ever game. Even if they might not both be starting right away, as Silberbauer put it, “The more numbers [participating] the more competition… and that’s going to help us”.
“One of the things that we have is heart”
On the positive side of things, Pacific did well just to stay in it. That may sound harsh, but each time that Forge scored, it seemed as if it would take the air out of the Islanders, that they wouldn’t be able to respond. If anything, it motivated them. The heart they displayed is what got them the equaliser right after Forge had opened the scoring and what put Blasco’s shot into the far netting when the game seemed all but over. Thanks to some moments of inspiration the Islanders were the better side for parts of the match. It bodes well for the future, as a combative side will always give itself a chance. It is now about continuing all that while putting in the plug at the back.
”If we fix small problems throughout the team, we’ll be a hard team to beat and contenders to win it.”Terran Campbell
Losses are never a good thing, but if there are two teams to lose to in this league, they are Cavalry and Forge. The two clubs placed first and second, respectively, in the spring standings. On top of that, consider the absences of key players such as Marcus Haber, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Alexander Gonzales Moreno (suspended) plus the defenders. Pacific will feel that if they can put their feet right in the next few games, there will be potential to improve the feeling around the club down the stretch when the reinforcements come back into the fold.
Supporters of the boys in Purple are hoping for at least progress over the course of this fall campaign. A run for the top spot and a place in the league’s final is always the hope. Whether that’s realistic is really too early to determine, but, no matter where the club clocks in this October, the best way to get there is to take it, as this team would tell you, one game at a time.
Next opponent, York9 FC, have one win and one loss so far this half of the season, most recently coming off a 2-1 victory over FC Edmonton. Afterwards it’s back to Westhills for another 3pm kickoff on Saturday against HFX Wanderers FC.