Cavalry FC came out the victors in a battle of undefeated teams on Wednesday, as they surged past Atlético Ottawa with a 4-1 victory to improve to 2-0 and move to joint-first with Valour FC at the top of the CPL table.
Both sides rotated their squads a little following wins on the opening weekend of The Kickoff. Ottawa coach Mista gave starts to Zach Verhoven and Shawn Lawson in attack, with Tevin Shaw coming into midfield as Chris Mannella and Victor Martínez sat out of the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Cavalry gaffer Tommy Wheeldon Jr. brought in speedy fullback Mo Farsi on the right, also deploying David Norman Jr. and Joe Di Chiara in midfield and Ahinga Selemani at the head of the attack.
Quite unlike both sides’ opening matches, there was little feeling-out process in this game. Cavalry, pressing high from the get-go, struck first in the ninth minute, as Selemani (perhaps taking a leaf out of José Escalante’s book from their previous game) put heavy pressure on goalkeeper Dylon Powley to force an error as the Moncton-born striker potted his first CPL goal.
Though the Calgary-based side continued to control most of the ball, their lead was short-lived. Atleti fullback Miguel Acosta, picking up the ball in his own half, played it up the wing to Malcolm Shaw before making straight for the net to get on the end of Shaw’s inch-perfect cross for an equalizer.
It was Cavalry who would go into halftime the happier side, though; after a cagey few minutes with the ball changing hands frequently, fullback Tom Field found himself way up on the left flank with the ball. He played a cross into the middle, which Di Chiara flicked forward into the path of Selemani for a tremendous volleyed finish. Selemani’s second goal of the night would stand, despite Ottawa’s claims of offside — a defender well out on the flank kept the Cavalry striker in fair territory.
Both sides attempted to shake things up at halftime, with Ottawa injecting Chris Mannella and Cavalry countering with Brazilian winger Richard Luca. As the second half unfolded with neither side taking much advantage, more substitutions checked in to try and boost the energy on a sweltering night in Winnipeg, and Cavalry began asserting their dominance more.
Elliot Simmons, on in relief of Di Chiara, had an excellent chance near the 67th minute as he cut across the box, but a game-saving sliding tackle by Ottawa’s Milovan Kapor blocked the midfielder’s attempt.
Cavalry secured their lead around the 75-minute mark, as Daniel Kaiser lobbed a cross into the box and Victor Loturi, making a smart run behind the defence, jumped on a deflection from an Ottawa defender to tap it into the net for his first professional goal. Just three minutes later, Simmons joined the party, as Anthony Novak made a barreling run toward the box and laid it off for the young midfielder in space for Simmons’ first goal in the CPL.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Cavalry, would throw a few more chances toward the Atlético Ottawa end but ultimately saw out the victory, taking the game by a 4-1 scoreline — the widest deficit yet this CPL season.
9′ — Ahinga Selemani (Cavalry FC)
24′ — Miguel Acosta (Atlético Ottawa)
43′ — Ahinga Selemani (Cavalry FC)
75′ — Victor Loturi (Cavalry FC)
78′ — Elliot Simmons (Cavalry FC)
68′ — Ben McKendry (Atlético Ottawa)