HIGHLIGHTS: Late comeback stuns Valour as Forge clinches CONCACAF League spot

HAMILTON – Forge FC refuse to concede the CPL’s Spring championship. They defeated Valour FC 2-1 on Saturday at Tim Hortons Field, keeping their hopes alive with a pair of late goals in a sizzling home fixture.

Marco Bustos got Valour off the ground very early, scoring a jaw-dropping strike from well outside the box just 30 seconds in. The game settled down after that quick start, as Valour let the home side come to them, and Forge seemed unable to find a breakthrough.

The equalizer did come, though. Jace Kotsopoulos’ first CPL goal equalized in the 84th minute, salvaging a point in what then seemed destined to end in a draw. The game had one more surprise in store, however, as a 90th-minute Tristan Borges corner deflected off Valour’s Jordan Murrell and barely squeaked over the line, giving Forge all three points.

With the win, Forge have kept their hopes alive in the Spring season, as they remain two points back of league-leaders Cavalry FC (who have two games in hand).

The defeat of Valour also clinches the Spring mini-table between these two sides and FC Edmonton, meaning Forge FC will represent the Canadian Premier League in the 2019 CONCACAF League, kicking off in July against Antigua GFC.

Valour have only a few days off before they take to the pitch again on Thursday, June 20, when they’ll host Pacific FC at IG Field (8:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. CT, on OneSoccer). Forge, meanwhile, are the lone CPL team with no midweek game, so they’ll wait until Saturday, June 22 before a highly-anticipated rematch with Cavalry FC (6:00 p.m. ET, on OneSoccer).

Box Score

1′ – Marco Bustos (Valour FC)
84′ – Jace Kotsopoulos (Forge FC)
90′ – Jordan Murrell (OG) (Forge FC)

31′ – Yellow Card – Dominic Samuel (Forge FC)
– Yellow Card – Louis Béland-Goyette (Valour FC)
64′ – Yellow Card – Raphael Ohin (Valour FC)

Three Key Performers

Jace Kotsopoulos (Forge FC)

Forge’s top pick from the U Sports draft made an immediate impact off the bench, playing just over half an hour yet taking three shots and providing a key pass. He was a prolific scorer in university, and he demonstrated his terrific nose for the net again here.

Marco Bustos (Valour FC)

His early goal was a moment of pure magic for Valour. The talented attacker, playing in a slightly more advanced role than he has previously, provided an easy goal of the month candidate, and he was lively throughout the rest of his 90-minute shift.

Kyle Bekker (Forge FC)

Forge’s captain was tremendous again on Saturday, with an assist on Kotsopoulos’ goal plus two shots of his own. He served up seven crosses, four of which found their target, and his energy late in the game played a major role in the team’s comeback.