Pacific FC qualified for their first Canadian Premier League final, beating Cavalry FC 2-1 after extra time at ATCO Field on Saturday.
Terran Campbell nearly gave Pacific FC a dream start in the opening minute, striking the post with a shot across goal from the top of the penalty area on a quick counter-attack.
It would be nearly half an hour until the next attempt on target, an effort from former Pacific attacker Ben Fisk from inside the box that forced a save out of Callum Irving.
Causing a lot of problems for the Cavalry backline, it was the duo of Campbell and Manny Aparicio that combined for the game’s opening goal in the 33rd minute.
Leaping high to beat Daan Klomp — who’s seven inches taller than him — in the air on a cross from the right wing, Aparicio headed the ball back across goal to Campbell. The Pacific striker, who appeared to be just marginally onside, reacted quickly to set his feet and volley the ball past a diving Marco Carducci for the first goal of the match.
The Tridents would take a deserved 1-0 lead into halftime, but it wouldn’t last long after that.
Moments after the second half kicked off, Cavalry earned a corner kick, and took full advantage. Ben Fisk curled the ball into the six-yard box, right onto the head of Karifa Yao, whose header floated over the head of Jordan Haynes and into the top right corner.
Despite Cavalry dominating the possession in the opening half, Pacific dominated for large stretches, but after the break it was a different story. Cavalry had less of the ball, but looked more solid defensively, stopping many of Pacific’s counter-attacks. It was a tactical chess match between Cavs boss Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and his counterpart Pa-Modou Kah, as the league’s best defence took on the league’s best attack.
The rest of the second half was scoreless, with both sides failing to even get a shot on target, and the match went to extra time — the first CPL game ever to do so.
In the final seconds of the first half of extra time, the ball was rolling toward the goal line beside the Cavalry net as the home side failed to clear the ball, but substitute Kunle Dada-Luke never gave up on the play. He caught up to it before playing it back across the six yard box, and it struck Marco Carducci’s leg and went into the net.
After consulting his assistant referee, Pierre-Luc Lauziere didn’t agree with the Cavs protests that the ball had gone out of bounds, and Pacific took the 2-1 lead that they’d hold onto for the remaining 15 minutes.
With the win, Pacific FC have reached their first Canadian Premier League final. If York United beat Forge FC in the second semi-final on Sunday, The Tridents will host the final, but if Forge are victorious, the championship game will be at Tim Hortons Field.
33′ — Terran Campbell (Pacific FC)
47′ — Karifa Yao (Cavalry FC)
105′ — Own Goal — Marco Carducci (Pacific FC)
52′ — Yellow: Josh Heard (Pacific FC)
90+1′ — Yellow: Jose Escalante (Cavalry FC)