Pacific FC Ends Island Games Campaign On A High With Big Win Over Wanderers
Both sides competing tonight entered the pitch in Charlottetown knowing two things: whatever happened, Pacific FC was still going home and the Halifax Wanderers were still going to the final.
At the final whistle, Pa-Modou Kah’s Pacific FC had made a big statement: the west coast club exited the competition on an absolute high, defeating the Wanderers 5-0 in the final coast-to-coast clash of the 2020 Canadian Premier League season.
Halifax Wanderers head coach Stephen Hart had made sweeping changes to his starting eleven, resting key players like Peter Schaale and Akeem Garcia while handing a first-ever start to 17-year-old Luke Green. The adjusted lineup came after today’s match between Forge and Cavalry secured Hart’s team passage to the final, allowing him the opportunity to rest some players while giving chances to others.
Pacific FC’s roster looked more familiar by comparison, with Kadin Chung and Marco Bustos once again linking up on the right. Terran Campbell was given a start up top, which came as a big gesture of faith as he followed his breakout 2019 campaign with a quiet one in Charlottetown. Diaz went in behind him, with Josh Heard’s fine form earning him a start on the left wing.
It took less than ten minutes for the west coast side to find their way onto the scoreboard, with a wonderful cross from Marco Bustos meeting the head of Terran Campbell, who coasted a fast header into the corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
Campbell found himself involved once again in the twenty-first minute, with a clever through ball nearly resulting in another goal for the west coast side.
Two minutes later, Halifax showed some capability of firing back when Kreim delivered a great forward cross on a platter for Morelli, but the Brazilian couldn’t make good contact with the ball and the equalizing chance went begging. Another aerial delivery saw Sanoh smartly chest the ball down with a whistle blowing for a potential handball call, though the replay showed this may not have been the case.
Diving headers continued to be the undoing of the Wanderers when Josh Heard received the ball unmarked on the left flank, firing in a wonderful cross to the far post which was met with a header from CPL MVP contender Marco Bustos to double the Pacific FC lead:
A fast Wanderers counter saw Morelli play the ball just outside of the box and fire in a curling ball that struck the post as Wirth dived to cover as much ground as possible. Halifax dominated the next few minutes, with another great chance from Morelli getting blocked and, moments later, a second long range effort meeting the same fate.
Pacific FC would deliver a crushing blow to stifle the Wanderers resurgence in the 45th minute, with Bustos providing a slick assist for Mexican forward Alejandro Diaz. The Mexican forward slotted a left-footed shot beyond Beaulieu, giving the west coast side a three goal lead.
The first half woes weren’t done for the Wanderers, with Bustos delivering a great cross-pitch ball to Diaz, who then sent the ball right back in for the Pacific star to fire home. The 24-year-old finished the first half with two goals and two assists to his name, with Pacific FC sending a message of intent for the 2021 Canadian Premier League season.
The second half would see Hart bring on Mateo Restrepo to replace Alex De Carolis, who had been struggling to deal with Bustos for the entirety of the first half, with N’sa also giving Geffrard his first rest of the tournament. The side nearly made good on a chance ten minutes into the second half, with a shot from Louis Beland-Goyette going just wide of the post.
Campbell went for his second goal a few minutes later, firing a shot at the far post which Beaulieu forced wide just beyond the outstretched leg of Diaz. A tamer second half would give way to yet another Pacific FC goal, with Campbell receiving the ball in the box and unselfishly slotting it backwards to Victor Blasco, who fired home his side’s fifth goal of the match.
No more drama would come in the match, with referee Myriam Marcotte blowing the whistle with Pacific FC having handily defeated the CPL Finalists five-nil on their final match in Prince Edward Island.
Pacific FC will depart from Charlottetown with their heads held high after tonight’s performance, with Marco Bustos making a big statement for his case as CPL MVP. The midfielder had fired the west coast side narrowly into the postseason stage with a last-gasp goal over FC Edmonton, with Pa-Modou Kah’s side looking threatening throughout the entire tournament – though they’ll need to work on conceding less penalties if they’re to challenge for the title next year.
Despite the blowout loss – Halifax’s biggest since a 6-2 loss to York9 FC last year – the Wanderers will move on to bigger things: the east coast side will take on Forge FC in the single leg CPL Final this Saturday, potentially deposing the reigning champions as the title holders of the Canadian Premier League itself.
Header Image Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League / Chant Photography