The Spring portion of the Canadian Premier League season is now all wrapped up, and the crew over at Centre Circle LIVE! can now look back fondly at each team’s 10-match sprint, having seen many a milestone moment in that time – we’re talking first goal by Ryan Telfer, first win ever via Pacific FC, Spring crown winners Cavalry, and everything in between.
So, in reminiscing over the Spring as we enter the Fall, here are the matches that stood out to the CCL! crew:
Armen Bedakian: Forge FC 1-2 Cavalry FC (May 12)
The first heavyweight bout between the two contenders for the Spring crown produced an instant classic, as home outfit Forge FC hosted eventual winners Cavalry FC at Tim Hortons Field.
This match had it all – back-and-forth goals, wild celebrations, an astounding miss, and a dramatic late winner. Cavs’ captain Nik Ledgerwood kicked off the party with a 22nd-minute opener, which he reacted to strangely, securing his spot in history as the orchestrator of the CPL’s first meme-status cellie (which he refused to explain, afterward). But, entering his head-turning hot streak, Tristan Borges levelled things up before half-time, sending these two teams into the locker rooms locked in at 1-1.
Sergio Camargo nearly got the winner for Cavalry in the 86th minute, pouncing on a Dominque Malonga low pass, but squaring his shot tepidly into the goalkeepers hands – a jaw-dropping miss he may have relived over and over in his sleep, if not for a 95th-minute Nico Pasquotti goal off a set play, which landed kindly to his foot unmarked in the box before he sent it home past the ‘keeper. It was a true battle between giants, with crucial points on the line, and it produced the sort of narrative that makes this game oh so beautiful.
Marty Thompson: HFX Wanderers 2-1 Forge FC (May 4)
Harken back to May 4 – the first Super Soccer Saturday in the CPL’s then-week-long existence. HFX Wanderers’ 2-1 win over Forge FC was the first match of the day – and the first of three inaugural home-openers.
It was clear from kickoff that Wanderers Grounds had charm in spades; from the massive crowd on that foggy Spring day to the beautiful grass pitch. When players walked out of that big blue shipping container, you couldn’t help but smile, knowing the CPL – and the professional game – had already created something special.
Halifax got to play host to quite a first CPL match, too. An 82nd-minute effort from Luis Perea gave the Wanderers the late win, in front of the Kitchen, no less. A storybook start to the Wanderers’ life on the East Coast.
Charlie O’Connor-Clarke: Forge FC 2-1 Valour FC (June 15)
For a neutral observer, this match had it all: an electrifying start, a dramatic final act, and an unlikely hero. It began with Marco Bustos’ jaw-dropping goal just 30 seconds in, certainly a goal-of-the-year contender. That moment brought Forge crashing back down to Earth after their three-game winning streak and gave Valour a lifeline in their CONCACAF League qualifying table.
Forge, though, refused to die, needing the result not only for the CONCACAF League but also to keep pace with Cavalry in the Spring title race. Jace Kotsopoulos, a U SPORTS draft pick, came off the bench in the 56th minute and immediately made his presence known, heading in the equalizing goal at the 84-minute mark.
The final blow to Valour came just minutes later, with a cross into the box deflecting off defender Jordan Murrell and just barely over the line. Forge held on to win 2-1, stunning the visitors and sending the Tim Hortons Field faithful home satisfied.