Cavalry Carves Out Revenge Opportunity In CPL Final
A two-one victory sees Cavalry FC dispatch visiting Pacific to book itself a ticket to the 2023 CPL Final.
Having won at home tonight, Cavalry will now be the away team for the championship title tilt, with Forge having secured hosting rights by beating Cavalry at ATCO Field last week.
Now somewhat of a revenge matchup, this will be Cavalry’s second-ever CPL Final matchup despite the side appearing in every postseason in league history.
Alberta’s Cavalry FC finished the regular season as champions by a thirteen-point margin, but biffed their home playoff clash against Forge. That necessitated tonight’s follow-up fixture, granting them a second chance to book a ticket to the 2023 CPL Final.
Visitors Pacific, who had bested York United before travelling across the country to dispatch Halifax Wanderers out east, entered the match without full-back Kunle Dada-Luke following his red card suspension, with youngster Paul Amedume getting a big start on the left flank whilst Zakaria Bahous would find himself starting as a right-back.
With no defensive subs on the bench, it was an all-or-nothing leap of faith from James Merriman, who had already tinkered with his line-up by putting forth a 4-4-2 against Halifax a week prior. That made it less surprising to see Cavalry start on the front-foot, calling Gazdov into action early and finding a close-range header that Kobza ought to have burried.
Then hosts would continue to pressure Pacific and would justly strike first blood when a freekick from Ali Musse soared into the box and was met by player of the year nominee Daan Klomp, who demonstrated exactly why they call him the Flying Dutchman:
Cavalry would keep knocking, though the next best chance of the first half would come for Pacific when Bahous burst through the right flank and forced Carducci to deflect the effort, with the visitors unable to end the first half on an even note.
The hosts almost went up 2-0 straight away in the second half as Bevan did superbly to free Ali Musse, who bore down on Emil Gazdov but lost out on the duel with the young keeper.
Panic loomed as big centre-back Amer Didic cracked his head against the pitch during a hard tackle and was slow to get up. With no defenders on the bench, Merriman opted to bring on Cedric Toussaint to replace him – though Didic, now back on his feet, was clearly peeved to have been subbed off.
Heroics from Sean Young stopped the visitors from conceding moments later, with a close shot from Klomp beating Gazdov but soaring straight into the boot of the last man back.
A second goal was coming, though, and it came from a clever corner kick that saw Aird play short to Camargo, who cut it back for Musse to fire at a right angle. The ball took a deflection on its way, but found the back of the net much to the dismay of the visitors.
It’s at this point one could forgive heads drooping for the visitors, but Pacific aren’t that kind of side: instead, they restored a one-goal deficit just minutes later through a beautiful move started and finished by Kekuta Manneh:
The fast legs of William Akio then burnt a defender before the attacker loosed a cross for Myer Bevan, but the New Zealander fired just wide of net for what would have surely put the game to bed. A corner would nearly do that moments later, with Trafford’s header nearly going in before Bahous cleared it.
Ayman Sellouf came off the Pacific bench with twelve minutes to go and quickly won himself a freekick at the edge of the box. The stadium waited on with baited breath, though the supersub blasted his shot into the wall.
Having secured playoff revenge against Pacific, Cavalry will now march onwards to the 2023 CPL Final in the aims of more revenge in Hamilton, Ontario. Host side Forge FC will be raring to go with an extra week of rest, with extra ticket allocations being opened up to meet fan demand. Two days prior to that will see the CPL Awards highlight the most accomplished players from the regular season, though everything is still left to play for between Forge and Cavalry.
…both of whom will be appearing in the Concacaf Champions League next year.
Header Image Photo Credit: Mike Sturk