VICTORIA, Canada — After closing out the spring season with a loss to Pacific FC, Calgary-based Cavalry FC opened the Canadian Premier League fall campaign with a 3-2 victory in front of 2,399 spectators at Westhills Stadium Saturday.
Pacific FC finished the seven-team spring season in fifth place and was looking to improve their record in the second half in the season, while Cavalry FC, which won the spring season, had one eye on a Canadian Championship fixture against Vancouver Whitecaps on the midweek looking to build some confidence.
“You know if you win the spring, then you have to perform like the undisputed champion of the league,” Cavalry’s coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said.
And Cavalry was doing exactly that on Vancouver Island.
From early on, Cavalry demonstrated why they dominated the spring campaign. The Calgarians played a cultured ball from out of the back looking to slowly build up and strike quickly. It is how they created their first chance in the 12th minute, but Pacific FC keeper Nolan Wirth denied Nico Pasquotti’s shot from inside the box.
Eight minutes later, Cavalry opened the scoring. A ball through the channel found Sergio Carmago and his low shot beat Wirth. In the 27th-minute,Cavalry doubled thanks to a short-range header by Pasquotti.
Calgary should have perhaps wrapped it up and were somewhat aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty in the 32nd minute. Emile Legault elbowed Julian Büscher in the face, but instead of a penalty, a drop ball was awarded for Pacific.
“The Canadians are very strong people,” German midfielder Büscher said while sporting a very visible split lip. “So I guess I am very Canadian right now. No, I’m feeling okay. I don’t have a headache or anything, so I am happy.”
Just before halftime, Cavalry almost sealed it when another pass down the channel found Dominique Malonga, but Wirth came up big in the one-v-one situation to deny the French forward.
In the 60th minute, Pacific FC pulled one back. A long ball found the speedy Ben Fisk and the captain beat the ‘keeper with a low shot through the legs. Cavalry, which had switched off just a bit, turned it back on and Pasquotti doubled the lead with a six-yard box finish in the 63rd minute.
⚽️Food for thought for Marc Dos Santos
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) July 7, 2019
That goal seemingly sealed it for Cavalry and appeared to take the foot of the pedal with one eye on the Whitecaps. But Büscher denied that claim.
“No it is not like that at all, our heads were fully in that game,” Büscher said.
“They guys played their heart out,” Wheeldon said.
“We didn’t fully put it away,” Büscher said. “So of course they get another chance in the end. They played a lot of long balls, and the crowd was excited, so they got dangerous.”
Pacific FC pulled one back when Terran Campbell beat Marco Carducci with a close-range header in the 84th minute.
It was, however, too late for Pacific. Despite conceding the late goal, Cavalry managed to see the game out.
“Everyone was committed to work very hard,” Büscher said.
It was an impressive display at times that will give Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos some food for thought.