Of the many trends at The Island Games – York9 FC draws, lots of penalty decisions – none are quite as gut-wrenching as the last few minutes of Pacific FC matches.
The Tridents heartbreakingly continued that trend on Saturday when an injury-time goal scored by Forge FC captain Kyle Bekker ripped a valuable point out of their hands.
Pacific conceded an 86th-minute penalty to HFX Wanderers FC in their first match of the season, and then saw Lukas MacNaughton score a deserved injury-time equalizer against York9 FC days later.
Fans on Vancouver Island will feel more slighted by Saturday’s defeat since the Tridents out-played Forge for large portions of the game, something coach Pa-Modou Kah was quick to point out in an emotional post-match media conference.
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“We will show our resilience in the coming games, it is a tough loss, but you’re playing against the champion,” Kah said. “We’re proud of our players because we went toe-to-toe with the champions – nothing wrong with that.”
A mistake from Pacific goalkeeper Nolan Wirth led to the match’s opening goal, a well-placed shot from Forge winger Chris Nanco in the 18th minute. The Tridents quickly responded with a lovely pinball sequence in the box landing to Jamar Dixon, who tapped home his first CPL goal.
From there, PFC out-possessed the champions and generated as many quality chances on goal. Bekker’s equalizer came from tired legs, as Kah’s defenders were caught off guard by a direct ball over the top.
“I’m not a guy to look for excuses, but when we haven’t played in 300 days, you’ll notice these things,” Kah said of the late goals his team has conceded.
Goalscorer Dixon was one of many bright spots, as the former Ottawa Fury midfielder was a consistent presence in the midfield.
“It’s disappointing, since for sure, we had some great spells,” Dixon said. “These things happen especially against teams like Forge, players like Bekker.”
Dixon won over Tridents fans, if he hadn’t already, with a passionate goal celebration directed at the OneSoccer cameras. The 31-year-old pounded the Pacific crest, a move dedicated to his time on the Island with PDL side Victoria Highlanders a decade ago.
“Vancouver Island gave me my start, out there, and that means something to me,” Dixon said. “Now Pacific has given me an opportunity.”
There’s no rest for Pacific, who will be back in action Tuesday against Valour FC (8pm ET/9pm AT on OneSoccer).
“Tuesday is a great game for us to come out again with fire and resilience because we’re still in the race,” Kah stated.