Pacific FC booked a ticket in the 2021 CPL Finals with a 2-1 win over Cavalry FC on Saturday. Here’s our recap from that one.
A season of firsts has continued in emphatic fashion for Pacific FC, as the Tridents surged past Cavalry FC 2-1 in extra time to book their place in the Canadian Premier League Finals.
But like every match between the two sides, though, the victory didn’t come easy.
With the sun shining on a cool crisp Calgary afternoon, the sides kicked off at ATCO Field. Right from the get-go, Pacific was looking to start this game off right. Terran Campbell found himself an opening in the first minute, surging down the left in a fluid counter. Only the woodwork denied the striker the first goal of the game.
With the flow of the match firmly behind them, the Tridents continued on the attack, hemming Cavalry in with high tempo play and an optimistic mindset. Wero Diaz directed a brilliant corner delivery just high in the 23rd.
A couple of minutes later, Callum Irving made a fine save off former Pacific man Ben Fisk, denying the hosts their best chance of the match thus far.
Pacific FC found their breakthrough in the 33rd minute. Josh Heard swung a high looping ball into the box from the right after some fine buildup play. Manny Aparicio rose up above everyone to get his head on the ball first, poking it through to Campbell who made no mistake.
It was the familiar brand of soccer that fans had become used to seeing from Pacific. High-paced and free-flowing, the team played with the attacking edge that had been missing in the last month of the season.
With the halftime whistle blowing, the purple-and-teal looked to be in control.
However, Tommy Wheeldon Jr.’s men wouldn’t be so easily dispatched. Like so many times before, the Cavalry came charging out in the second half.
Winning a corner in the 47th, Fisk swung a ball into the box, where Karifa Yao met it with his head. The ball sailed just over Irving’s outstretched hand to equalize the game at one.
Finding their legs with that goal, it was Pacific’s time to weather the storm. The defense bent but didn’t break as they were tested often.
Irving was particularly active, sprawling out to deny a shot in the 59th and leaping onto a missed through-ball in the 74th to deny any further opportunities. Joe Mason had quite a few opportunities to put the hosts in front, but his chances were missed by the narrowest of margins.
90 minutes were not enough to settle this bout. These teams have locked horns many a time this season, and it should come as no surprise that the biggest tilt yet would need the extra thirty.
Cavalry would have the first chance of extra time, Mason cutting to the right before unleashing a strike. The ball just didn’t have enough curl as it sailed beyond the right post. Just 5 minutes later in the 105th, Mohamed Farsi sold a fake shot that sent Alessandro Hojabrpour siding past, before firing it on target. Only an Irving stop was equal to the individual brilliance of the Cavalry wingback.
Farsi would rue his missed opportunity, as with the ensuing counter, the tides of the Pacific surged forth. Aparicio took the ball forwards, laying it off to Polisi who charged onwards. He returned the ball to Aparicio on the left. He swung a ball that was met by Kunle Dada-Luke, heading it on to Diaz. The striker’s attempt was blocked as the ball rolled towards the end-line. As it approached, the Cavalry defense had their hands up to signal out-of-bounds, but Dada-Luke wasn’t having it. Playing to the whistle, the right-back hunted the ball down and sent it between Marco Carducci’s legs, and into the back of the net. Though it would be charged as an own goal, Dada-Luke’s effort gave Pacific the lead back in extra time.
The restart would see more Pacific chances, as Polisi lost his footing in the box with the ball ending up on Diaz’s foot. His shot just flew high and wide. With the clock ticking by, the Tridents would lock down the rest of the match, with brilliant defending work to keep Cavalry at bay.
From there, the whistle would blow three times to signal the end of the match, and the celebrations began in earnest. In their third season, after improving year by year, Pacific FC would be heading to the CPL finals.
There were stumbles along the way as the playoffs approached, but with this victory, Kah’s men now find themselves with the chance to win silverware. It was an impressive win away from home when Lukas MacNaughton was serving a suspension and Marco Bustos was still recovering from injury. A resilient victory sets the stage for a climactic title clash.
The Tridents will now wait to see who they will be facing for the championship. York United and Forge FC will kick off tomorrow in the other semifinals, and for Pacific fans, there is definitely one team that they would rather face. Forge FC has owned the head-to-head record, winning all three matches between the sides this season. To be the best though, you have to beat the best, and I don’t think Pacific will be any less ready to dethrone the reigning champions.
The match between York United and Forge FC will take place tomorrow at Tim Hortons Field, with kickoff set for 3:00 PM EST. Pacific will await in the finals, with the match scheduled for either November 27th or 28th, as they’ll either host York, or visit Forge, depending on the outcome of that game.
You can catch all the CPL playoff action live on OneSoccer.