The chances were there, but the confidence was missing for Pacific FC.
That’s coach Pa-Modou Kah’s reading of his team’s 1-1 draw with York9 FC on Tuesday at The Island Games. An injury-time equalizer by centre back Lukas MacNaughton felt more like retribution than a moment of point-securing elation.
Before MacNaughton’s late heroics, the Tridents were a desperate side who had whiffed on two clear-cut scoring chances. An open Alessandro Hojabrpour header and a Victor Blasco “moon shot” had Kah in disbelief – especially as York’s Alvaro Rivero converted on his side’s lone half-chance on goal.
“We need to fine-tune ourselves and finish these games off,” Kah said. “They got in the chances, they just need the confidence to finish. It’s a process.”
Rivero’s goal was typical route-one football: A long ball from Roger Thompson, flicked on by Ryan Telfer, found the Spaniard with space in behind. The ball cleared PFC’s midfield, who had a fantastic game limiting the Nine Stripes to only a handful of touches in the box.
What Kah called a “cheap goal” to OneSoccer after the match might be a crucial one at The Island Games. York and Pacific sit on two points apiece through two matches – likely off the top-four pace required to advance to the next stage.
“They had one chance all game,” Kah reiterated. “You might get one chance in a game so you can’t be wasting chances.
“Our guys did well, again, to crawl back from that. The commitment from the group is what impresses me the most.”
MacNaughton, who wore the captain’s armband in PFC’s first match against HFX Wanderers FC on the weekend, admitted the side wasn’t “excited” about his injury time winner.
“We should’ve punished them and had more,” MacNaughton stated.
All three PFC goals in PEI thus far have come in the second half. Kah and MacNaughton were quick to claim that Pacific is the fittest side in the league, avoiding late-match cramping and general tiredness due to a lack of match fitness.
“York was struggling at the end, Halifax was struggling at the end,” MacNaughton said. “We’re a fit team and we have players that are always ready to take a chance.
“In a game like that, with that many chances, we needed a few more in the net.”
MacNaughton’s goal, which came from a winding near-post run, was initially dubbed an own goal courtesy of York9 goalkeeper Nathan Ingham, who sent a punched ball the opposite way. MacNaughton claims he made contact, of course.
“I think I touched it,” MacNaughton said, before letting out a laugh.
MacNaughton lined up beside Marcel de Jong, who made his first start for Pacific FC after being sidelined by an Achilles injury in 2019. The Canadian national team veteran shined on the left side, ending with a match-high three key passes, three completed crosses, and six gained possessions.