Hendrik Starostzik started his tenure with Pacific FC about as perfectly as one could ask for: A game-winning goal and a goal-line clearance in his club’s inaugural match against HFX Wanderers FC.
Probably not the name most fans were expecting to be Pacific’s first goal-scorer, but a centre-back they may soon come to love — if they haven’t fallen for him already.
The 28-year-old German headed in a 23rd-minute corner kick from teammate Noah Verhoeven to get PFC on the scoreboard. A short-sided Pacific squad was able to hold on for the clean sheet with a 1-0 win over the Wanderers.
“For me, the biggest thing is to win the game,” Starostzik said after winning man of the match honours. “Because I’m a defender, I want the clean sheet — to me, that’s the most important thing.”
Pacific, and Starostzik, will walk away grateful to have escaped without conceding and collecting said clean sheet. The coastal derby between PFC and the Wanderers provided no shortage of scoring chances.
Halifax nearly evened the score two minutes after Starostzik’s header with a corner kick of their own, but the goal was disallowed; the Wanderers nearly equalized again in the 75th-minute after a fumble in the box, before Starostzik could clear it out.
A pair of yellow cards awarded to Lukas MacNaughton dropped Pacific FC down to ten players with 18 minutes left in a physical second half.
“It was a complete team effort today,” goalkeeper Mark Village told CanPL.ca. “Especially went we went a man down in the last 20 minutes. The confidence I have in my back line, the huge block that Hendrik had, it was fantastic.”
Striker Marcus Haber wore the captain’s armband for Pacific in their season opener.
“It was a grind, for sure,” Haber said of the match. “I thought we were organized defensively, and those are the kind of performances you need in this league.”
“We have to learn, and we have to work hard. I hope the next game, we can bring this level [for] 90 minutes instead of 45 minutes,” said Starostzik.
The stands were full at Westhills Stadium, with a sell-out crowd of 5,154. Most were purple-clad, but a brave minority made the cross-country trip from Halifax.
“Fantastic,” said CPL commissioner David Clanachan. “I mean, look at the packed house today … I was driving in from the airport, and maybe a couple of kilometres out, I was watching people walking in with their Pacific FC jerseys on.”
With the CPL’s first win and three points, Pacific advance to top of the league, above Forge FC and York9 FC tied for second. The Langford-based squad will look to continue their unbeaten start when they host Valour FC on Wednesday, May 1st (8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET, OneSoccer).