Wheeldon Jr.: ‘Mindset, magic, and mistakes’ key to Cavalry-HFX tilt, Island Games title

Mindset, magic, and mistakes: The three ‘Ms’ of The Island Games, according to Cavalry FC’s Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

That’s the Cavalry manager’s mantra ahead of a crucial tilt with HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday (3 p.m./4 p.m. AT, OneSoccer/CBC), as a win would put the Cavs into the CPL Finals for the second year in a row.

“This tournament will be won with three things: Mindset, a bit of magic, and mistakes,” Wheeldon Jr. told reporters on Friday. “I think it’s the team that can do all three that will be successful.”

Those “Ms” come into play nicely for Cavalry against the Wanderers, who played Forge FC to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday in their second-round opener. Stephen Hart’s men pressed well against the defending champions and capitalized on a few mistakes.

Wheeldon Jr. has taken inspiration from one of Hart’s famous sayings, “make the ball sweat,” in trying to combat HFX’s midfield and attacking core.

“We have to make sure the thing that moves is the ball, keep it away from them, and hope it tires before they do,” Wheeldon Jr. explained. “As we’ve seen with Halifax, they are very organized, and they’ll look to (pounce) on mistakes. It’s valuable that we get the lion’s share of the ball because we want to move them around and tire them out. That’s where we’ll get those mistakes.

“I expect it to be a cagey game. It will be a lot different than Pacific, who tried to impose a possession game on us and we countered with pressing and transition.”

Cavalry beat HFX Wanderers in the first round almost three weeks ago. More recently, Cavalry opened their second round with a 3-1 win over Pacific FC, and “mindset” was the key to that victory. A Cavs side dealing with injuries looked sharp as ever, scoring three goals against a team who beat them in round one.

“We always talk about not getting too high on the wins. You need to keep moving – recover and move on,” Wheeldon Jr. said. “You gotta manage energy.”

Wheeldon Jr. confirmed Nico Pasquotti won’t be available Saturday, adding he may be out for the season alongside attacker Oliver Minatel. Sergio Camargo also remains out, leaving Cavalry thin up top.

“To use a military term, when you go to war you expect to lose a few soldiers. If you prepare for that, it doesn’t surprise you when it happens,” Wheeldon said. You can’t be selective with fate, either – You can’t say I wish we got an injury with the 23rd man instead of a starting player.

“We’ve always had an ability to bring in players who can play multiple positions. Unfortunately, we’ve lost players in significant areas but we’ve managed very well.”

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