Pacific Procures Penalty Win Over Cavalry
The final cup tilt of the preliminary round saw two highly-touted teams head to penalties after ninety minutes – something that had knocked both teams out the competition last year.
This time around it would be Pacific FC advancing, with 19-year-old goalkeeper Emil Gazdov making a big case for himself not long after the club handed him a new multi-year deal.
It was a wet night out at Starlight Stadium, with both teams producing some heavy touches as the knockout cup tilt got underway. Both teams had crashed out in the quarter-finals through penalties last season. As both teams found their footing in the early minutes, Manny Aparicio – shortly after taking a strong elbow from Jose Escalante – found himself on the ground with a leg injury, with James Merriman ultimately replacing him with young draft pick Eric Lajeunesse, who stepped into defensive with Sean Young returning a more traditional midfield position.
It’d be a tough introduction for Eric, who found himself flattened by Cavalry forward Myer Bevan just minutes as an aerial ball came in. Pouncing on the open space in front of him, Bevan cut inside the box and loosed a right-footed shot that found the side-netting beyond Gazdov to give the visitors a one-nil lead.
Bevan had finished last year’s Canadian Championship in a three-way tie for first in the golden boot, having scored three from Cavalry’s two matches.
The Cavalry already would lose out on veteran Joe Mason not long after that, however, with 31-year-old one picking up a knock and – in a similar vein to Pacific’s earlier substation – found himself replaced by a much younger presence in Niko Myroniuk, a 17-year-old midfielder who had featured for the club’s U-20 side last year.
It wasn’t long before the Tridents found their equalizer, with Sean Young sailing in a freekick from the left flank and six-foot-six Easton Ongaro rising to meet it, opening his account for Pacific FC in the 39th minute.
The second half would see Cavalry FC dictate good swaths of the match, but the Pacific FC defense held strong and stifled much of the creativity up top for Cavalry. Bevan was largely quieted after he had opened the scoring, with the match ultimately going straight to penalties after ninety minutes.
The spot kicks saw Pacific FC carve out a 4-3 lead after Gazdov pushed Daan Klomp’s effort out to the right, with the youngster turning to the crowd and firing them up. Georges Mukumbilwa stepped up to the plate, sending Marco Carducci the wrong way to stamp Pacific FC a ticket straight to the quarter-finals.
The Tridents now advance to face the tournament’s first-ever League1 BC entrants in the quarter-final stage, with the TSS Rovers having surpassed Valour FC 3-1 earlier this week, marking the first time a semi-professional side have ever advanced beyond professional opposition. Suffice to say, James Merriman won’t take things lightly as Burnaby’s Pirates prepare to voyage out to Starlight Stadium, particularly with former Trident Matteo Polisi leading the charge.
“I think it’s great for the province, it’s great for the West Coast,” said James Merriman after the match. “TSS Rovers getting to host a game at Swangard was awesome, and we’ll be looking forward to welcoming them here.”
It’s early showers for Cavalry, which leaves Tommy Wheeldon Jr. with only the Canadian Premier League season to contend with. The perennial title contenders have yet to fully conquer the domestic competition, and that just become an all-time priority following their fast cup exit. He’ll have an early chance of revenge against Pacific, with Cavalry set to play them in league action this Sunday.
The quarter-final stage of the Canadian Championship will take place between May 9-11, with three of BC’s four teams from the competition all featuring in that stage.
Header Image Credit: Canadian Premier League