‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: HFX draw positives despite opening loss to Pacific

HALIFAX – With the start of the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League, it’s natural that the HFX Wanderers felt nerves in their first game far from home. But an early conceded goal put the team in a hole that they couldn’t get out of.

“In the first half, I thought we were extremely nervous,” HFX coach Stephen Hart said after the 0-1 loss to Pacific FC.

“Nobody wanted to accept the responsibility to get on the ball and find the play-makers of the team so to speak.”

Pacific defender Hendrik Starostzik scored in the 23rd minute, a goal the proved to be the eventual winner. After one half, Andre Rampersad was the only Wanderers player to manage a shot.

The team applied more pressure to start the second half but were met with adversity when striker Tomasz Skublak was forced off with an injury at the 59-minute mark.

Halifax already had injuries to deal with in the striker department with veteran Colombian Luis Alberto Perea not making the cross-Canada trip.

“Unfortunately we lost Tomasz Skublak, he went down to injury. But I thought Garcia did a good job on top and we could have, we could have potentially come away with a draw because we had a couple of chances,” said Hart.

Most of those chances came after Pacific FC defender Lukas MacNaughton was sent off in the 72nd minute after picking up his second yellow.

“Once they went down to 10 men, they dropped into a very low block and we had to try and break that down by moving the ball a little bit faster.”

Halifax managed 12 shots in the second half but only two were on target. Pacific FC was limited to four shots total —two on target — but it was enough to get the job done at home in front of 5,100 fans at Westhills Stadium.

“From a creative standpoint, the final pass was kind of lacking today,” Hart explained.

Now the team returns to Halifax to host Forge FC, the second match for both teams after Forge FC picked up a 1-1 draw against York FC. Hart still took positives away from the loss despite it not being the result the team ultimately hoped for.

“The light at the end of the tunnel for me is that if you could have such a poor half and just come away (down 1-0) and keep them to one shot on goal, then you just have to get more consistent with what you do.”