VANCOUVER ISLAND – There are only so many opportunities provided in football – moments when three points can mean the difference between continued title contention and a middle-of-the-pack finish.
Tonight, Pacific FC will regret watching that opportunity slip past them.
The stage was set: With Cavalry FC’s 1-0 road victory at FC Edmonton’s Clarke Field, Pacific could have vaulted ahead of the Eddies with a home win over York9 FC. Third place in the Canadian Premier League seemed within reach.
Instead, a 2-0 disappointment will leave Michael Silberbauer’s side looking for answers with a short turn-around before Saturday’s match against Edmonton. Unbeaten in four matches entering Wednesday night’s tilt, Pacific had the look of a club who had finally run out of answers.
“It absolutely was a missed chance to get three points,” PFC head coach Michael Silberbauer told reporters post-match. “We keep saying it’s a learning process, yes, but it’s also a process of learning how to win games. It has to be both.”
Still, the Danish head coach felt his club performed better than the box score reflected.
“I felt we were in the game,” he said. “We did a lot of things right, and then that once (Adjei) chance in the second-half got them on top, and that gave them a little bit of energy.”
It was that kind of night for Pacific. Despite outshooting Jimmy Brennan’s Nine Stripes by a 17-10 margin, the Vancouver Island club could not muster a goal when they needed it most: not with Terran Campbell on the pitch, red hot though he has been all of the Fall season; nor Victor Blasco alongside him, wide open with a shot on net at the end of the first half; nor Marcus Haber—experienced, if oft-injured—entering as a substitute.
Twice, Pacific’s back line was exposed by the Nine Stripes’ Simon Adjei. On the first goal, goalkeeper Mark Village managed to lunge and stop the first shot, only to have the York9 forward tap the rebound in unmarked.
“We have to help him,” Pacific captain Hendrik Starostzik told reporters. “This is a team.”
Every chance Pacific managed, York9’s Nathan Ingham had an answer. Such is the advantage of having one of the Canadian Premier League’s top ‘keepers when he is playing at his best.
“The second half was not really good from us. Bad possession. Too many faults. I think that’s where we lost the game,” said Starostzik.
The good news for Pacific? Memories are short. A strong home result against FC Edmonton on Saturday (12:00 pm PT, 1:00 pm MT on OneSoccer) would go a long way towards erasing Wednesday night’s hangover.
But the Fall season is short, too. And Pacific find themselves one opportunity shorter.