That wasn’t lost on Pacific FC and coach Pa-Modou Kah, as the Tridents emphatically grabbed two first-half goals on Sunday en route to a comprehensive 2-1 win over one of the Canadian Premier League big dogs.
It was Pacific’s second win in as many Island Games matches, giving them a massive six-point injection and lifting them to third in the CPL first-round standings on nine points from five matches.
Marco Bustos’ brilliant left-footed, cut-in attempt opened the scoring in style for the Tridents, who out-possessed and out-chanced Cavalry over the 90 minutes.
“You have to have a lot of grit to hold a 2-1 lead against a team like that… you have to soak up that pressure,” Bustos said. “We knew we wanted to be on the front foot right away and I think we matched them.”
Alejandro Díaz scored a second goal for Pacific after a well-worked passing play, ending with a cross-box pass and tap-in. Bustos, Diaz, and Victor Blasco have a combined four goals and three assists this week.
“These attacking players are trying to find their patterns, their runs,” Kah said. “These guys are game-changers.”
The Cavs climbed back into the match after a controversial penalty call. Referee Juan Marquez ruled Jordan Haynes’ trip of Bruno Zebie on the edge of the 18-yard box was indeed inside the box. Nathan Mavila’s penalty conversion was the last whiff of a goal Cavalry managed on the day.
“We took our foot off the gas a bit and the game changed,” Kah said of his team’s efforts in the second half. “But to show that against a team like Cavalry is fantastic. These are the teaching points and they’re coming against good teams.”
Pacific’s plan to out-work Cavalry came with an extra day’s rest, having a rare four-day break between their 2-0 win over Valour at midweek and Sunday’s tilt. They looked fresh, with both goals coming from well-won balls high up the pitch.
“You have to match their intensity and physical play and you have to outwork them… and it worked today because we had an extra day’s rest,” Kah said.” We don’t have overly physical players so it was important to keep the ball and I think we did a great job at that. That’s why we got the goals we got.
“Credit to the boys for working hard.”
Sunday’s win was just the sixth time Cavalry has conceded two-or-more goals in a match. PFC has handed Cavalry three defeats dating back to last season.
While Pacific has grown year-over-year, and they look in good shape for a run in the Island Games’ second-round, Kah is quick to dismiss any talk of them as contenders.
“We have done nothing. We haven’t played any finals yet so we’re not to their level. We need to remember that,” Kah said. “That being said, these are the moments you celebrate as a group because what we went through over the four months (of COVID-19 delays)… we knew it would take every player here to suffer like that to get a result like this.”