The Wanderers Recap: It Just Wasn’t Meant to Be
This is it: what Yann Fillion and his 2,520 regular season minutes worked towards. A playoff berth that was unexpected by everybody except the people who built, played for and faithfully supported the Wanderers. It was a rocky start with zero wins in their first nine (including the Canadian Championship), but Patrice Gheisar always maintained faith and moulded this team into his image. The Wanderers are a gritty, passionate, competitive and eloquent team playing ‘champagne’ football whenever the chance arises. It’s all the things that Wanderers fans have craved since the initial announcement that a professional football team would be coming to Halifax.
It has been a long and winding road, and the road somehow led us to a costal clash with Pacific FC, our whole season in the balance.
Here is the recap.
For the Wanderers, you could call them and their fans cautiously optimistic about their playoff chances. After all, this would be their first time playing a home playoff game in club history. Add in a young roster that greatly overachieved expectations, and you end up with a situation where you don’t know what to expect out of the team. Big games make big players, and in reality, much of the Wanderers team has yet to be tested under this kind of pressure, yet you wouldn’t know it from watching the first 25 to 30 minutes of the game as the Wanderers dominated possession and had countless half chances that could have easily found the back of the net on a different day. In a nutshell, that last sentence, ‘could have easily found the back of the net on a different day’ was the whole story for the Wanderers, as everything seemed just inches away from perfection, yet never was capitalized upon.
So, when Pacific scored (on a Zachary Fernandez own goal) in the 37th minute, it felt like it was against the run of play. Sure, Pacific had had chances to score throughout the game, but they were through the occasional Wanderers error, not the ruthless, flowing football that came from Lorenzo Callegari pulling the strings in midfield.
In that moment, with Zachary Fernandez lying face down on the pitch, heart in his mouth, it was impossible not to feel a deep compassion for what he must have felt in that moment. After all, he has been a crucial player for the Wanderers this season, contributing three goals, two assists and countless kilometres of running to help press, defend, and create width on the pitch. He didn’t deserve a moment like that; he deserved a moment of celebration.
Still, the game had to go on, and the Wanderers used the remaining ounce of strength they had left after a gruelling season. Chance after chance came for the boys, but somehow, the ball stayed out of the net. An inch here, an inch there, and this is a completely different story. That is always the case; you can play your heart out, but sometimes, you just cannot find a way to win. It doesn’t make your performance poor or unsatisfactory. It just makes it what it is: a result that didn’t go your way. Patrice said much the same after the match.
By the 75th minute, you could tell that the emotional toll had set in for the Wanderers. Their legs were unable to move as fast as their heart and brains needed them to. It was torturous, as you could see how much every player wanted to give more, but they just didn’t have it.
It just wasn’t meant to be tonight, but the foundation for 2024 has been set, and it’s a brighter pasture than what the east coast has seen before.
Wanderers Till I Die ⚓️
Header Image Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan