Pacific FC painted Westhills Stadium red, white and purple in a Canada Day soccer victory over the Canadian Premier League spring champions.
PFC defeated Cavalry FC 3-1 in an eventful victory in which the hosts were down to 10 players and the visitors from Calgary down to nine.
The enthusiastic crowd of 2,781 chanted: “Nolan’s Wirth it, Nolan’s Wirth it … ” referring to the Pacific FC goalkeeper from the Comox Valley, who was named man of the match for his crease heroics starting in place of regular ’keeper Mark Village.
“It was a very good performance collectively as a team,” said Wirth, who played NCAA in the Pac-12 for the Oregon State Beavers.
Among Wirth’s saves was one in which he grabbed the ball right on the line.
“I just kind of blacked out and bear-clawed it,” he said.
The game was meaningless as Cavalry (8-2 in league) had already clinched the CPL spring title and playoff berth that goes with it. Cavalry is also preparing for the Voyageurs Cup third-round matchup against the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer after dispatching PFC and Forge FC of Hamilton in the first two rounds. So hardly surprisingly, Cavalry sat out seven regular starters.
“With so many injuries, so were we missing several players,” countered Victor Blasco, the former Whitecaps prospect from Spain, who celebrated his 25th birthday by scoring PFC’s second goal.
“We are working really hard and playing with personality for these amazing fans and showing what we are building as a team.”
Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. was magnanimous in defeat: “This was Pacific’s day and they deserve to enjoy it. [People might say] it’s a meaningless game, but this is pro football, and our guys did not want to lose.”
PFC’s first goal, a cannon to the top corner while falling, came from the foot of 17-year-old Ahmed Alghamdi. He only graduated from high school at St. George’s in Vancouver last month: “You have to think so much quicker and be two steps ahead at this level,” he said.
A member of Saudi Arabia’s U-20 team, Alghamdi was asked about his ultimate aspiration: “Qatar 2022 [World Cup],” he answered.
Dream big or go home.
“I have been working hard and it’s paying off,” said Alghamdi.
Issey Nakajima-Farran showed why he was capped 39 times for Canada by scoring with a surgical free kick past the Cavalry wall from just outside the box. The veteran pro said he practices that kick 10 times after every practice: “It was nice to get a chance to show the young guys how it’s done.”
Dominique Malonga scored Cavalry’s goal.
PFC finished the spring portion of the season 3-5-2 and in a fourth-place tie with Halifax and York9, with Valour FC of Winnipeg bringing up the rear. Forge FC and FC Edmonton were second and third behind Cavalry.
The fall portion of the season now begins, with scheduling fate bringing Pacific FC and Cavalry back together for a meeting Saturday at Westhills Stadium.