Everything is a first in the early days of the inaugural Canadian Premier League soccer season.
No team wants some of them — the first loss in particular — but it is inevitable to arrive for every team. It came for Pacific FC (1-1) on Wednesday night at Westhills Stadium as Valour FC (1-0) recorded a 2-1 victory in the Winnipeg club’s first game in franchise history.
Former Canada U-20 and U-23 player Dylan Carreiro deflected in the winning goal off Pacific defender Ryan McCurdy’s leg at 78 minutes, in a tough blow for the home side. The Winnipeg players then ran to the three flag-waving Valour fans in a mob scene.
They were among the 2,361 fans, who proved a hardy lot, as a warm spring day suddenly turned into a cold wind tunnel by game time in the evening.
Valour FC head coach Rob Gale coached the Canadian U-18 and U-20 teams from 2012 to 2018 and has used those connections to help build his roster of young Canadian talent. But it was Stephen Hoyle from England, one of four imports on the Valour roster, who scored the first goal in franchise history at 23 minutes.
Pacific FC equalized at 45 minutes through an opportunistic header — off the back heel of a defender — by 18-year-old Jose Hernandez. The Whitecaps Academy product was making his debut as a pro starter.
The other best chances in the first half came through Pacific FC captain Marcus Haber, as the former Canadian international hit the post twice in succession, and had two other headers sail just over the crossbar. Pacific FC would rue those missed chances.
Terran Campbell and Noah Verhoeven also had shots which went over the crossbar as Pacific pressed with the wind advantage in the first half. That swung to Valour's favour in the second half.
Pacific FC’s back line was severely compromised. Import centre-back Hendrik Starostzik from Germany, who scored the first goal in Pacific FC history in the 1-0 opening victory over the HFX Wanderers of Halifax on Sunday, was injured and did not play while fellow defender Lukas MacNaughton was sitting out a suspension due to a red card.
Pacific FC plays its first road game in team history next Wednesday against Forge FC (0-0-1) at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.