HAMILTON – The conversation brewing around the Canadian Premier League was whether the Fall season would yet again be a two-team race between Cavalry and Forge FC.
It made sense; Cavalry dominated the Spring season and only dropped one game … against Forge. Meanwhile the Hamilton-based club finished 2nd, 5 points back of the eventual Spring winner.
But, with FC Edmonton now extending their winning streak to four in a row courtesy of a 2-1 win over Forge to kick off the Fall, it appears that Jeff Paulus’ players – who haven’t suffered a defeat since June 15th – may have also emerged as contenders. Still, while that scoreline may have suggested a closely fought back-and-forth, Forge head coach Bobby Smyrniotis felt his side deserved more.
“I haven’t seen the statistics after the game but you don’t even need to look at them,” Smyrniotis lamented after the match. “We dominated in a lot of components, but here’s the thing with football – if you give up two goals out of nowhere, that’s always going to make it difficult. It allows an opponent to sit back, soak up pressure and it’s hard to break teams down that way.”
Smyrniotis’ hunch may have been right: Forge FC recorded 12 total shots; FC Edmonton, on the other hand, had just the one.
One shot … but two goals. A bit astounding, really.
See, one of those goals – the game-winning second for the Eddies – was the result of a pretty significant gaffe by Forge goalkeeper Triston Henry, who spilled a cross by Jeannot Esua into his own net. It was an event Smyrniotis figures could only really happen once every blue moon.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a learning experience, I would say it’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Smyrniotis said, in response to questions about Henry’s own goal. “Hopefully we keep it that way.
“Listen, he’s (Henry) been fantastic for us, he’s been excellent in all of the games so far and made some of the top saves we have seen in the first half of the year … so stuff like that is going to happen. I know I have said that before but this year something like that happened to him. Maybe the next year, it’ll happen to someone else.”
Something Smyrniotis has always talked about is taking each match just one at a time; no looking ahead at the schedule, or practicing for future opponents, just focusing on the next game on deck. With the Fall season being 8-games longer than the Spring season, perhaps Forge FC has a little more wiggle room to adjust some of their mistakes … but Smyrniotis doesn’t really see much to fix, either.
“I don’t know if there is a lot of things you can adjust from today’s game,” Smyrniotis said. “We had the opportunities and chances at goal, so we maybe could have a been a bit sharper, but we have been scoring goals all season. It is maybe just one of those games where the ball doesn’t go in. We had two good chances in the first 15 minutes and three very good chances (in the second) so we have been creating … if one of those chances goes in, it would be a different story.”
The one chance that did go in came courtesy of young attacker Jace Kotsopoulos, who once again found the back of the net against the run of play. Unfortunately for the 21-year-old, his first goal of the Fall portion of the season wasn’t enough to take points out of the opposition, but, as he puts it, he and his team must “take in the loss, not dwell on it, and prepare for the next match.”
“We are better than this,” Kotsopoulos added. “The ball just wasn’t bouncing for us today.”