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Pacific FC plays giant killer in ousting Whitecaps from Canadian Championship

A sign Thursday at a sold-out Starlight Stadium read: “B.C. Is Ours.” It was on this night.
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Pacific FC's Kadin Chung wins the ball in front of Vancouver Whitecaps striker Brian White during action at Starlight Stadium. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A sign Thursday at a sold-out Starlight Stadium read: “B.C. Is Ours.”

It was on this night.

Host Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League stunned the Vancouver Whitecaps of MLS 4-3 in what will go down as one of the most famous victories in Island soccer history.

The Whitecaps have a total salary evaluation of $37.68 million US to PFC’s $3.67 million US, according to Transfermarkt. The average player salary this season in MLS is $373,000 US compared to $40,000 Cdn in the CPL.

Yet, that off-field power imbalance was turned on its head in the opening round of the Canadian Championship before an ecstatic crowd of 4,997, only three people less than the current maximum allowed by B.C. health authorities for outdoor events.

“The players were fantastic. It’s about our boys creating history in the B.C. derby,” said PFC coach Pa-Modou Kah.

“Energy is contagious. B.C. is purple.”

Twelve PFC players have come through the Whitecaps academy system. You don’t think they felt they had something to prove?

“We were tuned in from the first minute and you could tell,” said Whitecaps draft pick Josh Heard, who scored for PFC.

“I grew up in Victoria. It’s a special moment and I’m very grateful for it. It’s an amazing feeling. These are the nights you play for.”

The Whitecaps fielded nearly their strongest lineup.

“We want to congratulate Pacific for their energy and intensity,” said Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos. “When you have a tough time matching that, it’s tough to win a game like this. The environment was good here.”

Terran Campbell, from the penalty spot, opened scoring for PFC at eight minutes. He calmly beat Whitecaps goalkeeper ­Maxime Crepeau.

Ryan Gauld of the Whitecaps was practically gifted a goal at 14 minutes in the last thing PFC needed against an MLS side featuring such talent.

The former Scottish U-19 and U-21 standout Gauld was signed by the Whitecaps on July 31.

“The crowd pushed them on. We have to find a way to deal with that and unfortunately we couldn’t,” said Gauld.

Plucky PFC got a fortuitous pinball bounce of its own to take the lead again at 27minutes as the ball fell to the feet of Manny Aparicio. Heard found the short side on a sharply executed run-into the box to make it 3-1 in the second half. Gauld brought the Whitecaps to within one at 66 minutes on a seamless header. Alejandro Diaz got that back at 75 minutes for the winner for PFC before the Whitecaps scored on a penalty to close the scoring.

PFC advances to meet ­Calgary’s Cavalry FC, 2-0 victors over FC Edmonton in their all-opening-round game, in the second round.