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Island Games Recap & Highlights: Cavalry cruise; controversial handball salvages point for Forge

All of the action from the Canadian Premier League’s Group Stage as Matchday 1 is in the books.

HFX Wanderers celebrate a goal by Akeem Garcia
CPL/Chant Photography

The second round of the Canadian Premier League’s Island Games got underway on Wednesday, with a pair of good matchups.

After eight teams were trimmed to four on Sunday, there were two matches on Wednesday, with HFX Wanderers taking on Forge FC in the early game before Cavalry took on Pacific in the late one.

As was the case in HFX’s final match of the First Stage against Atletico Ottawa, an early strike from Akeem Garcia gave his side the lead. It took Garcia just three minutes to find the back of the net in this one, after the Wanderers pounced on a mistake from Alexander Achinioti-Jonsson. João Morelli stole the ball off the Forge midfielder and played the ball to Garcia, who took a touch and fired it past Triston Henry from the edge of the penalty area.

It was his fifth goal of the tournament, keeping him in first place in the Golden Boot race.

The early goal forced Forge to rethink their plan a bit, as Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis explained after the match.

“Don’t let people fool you that coaches have a magic wand,” Smyrniotis said. “We try and move things around a little bit, but [the players] have to come up with the solutions. And that point when you’re scored on in the third minute it’s only normal that for the next five, six minutes maybe you’re a little down on yourself, maybe you’re a little bit stunned.”

The rest of the opening 45 minutes was all Wanderers, as a good defensive effort saw The Hammers fail to register a shot on goal.

Forge were much better in the second half, and equalized from the penalty spot in the 56th minute.

After a horrendous penalty call from the referee against Jake Ruby, Paolo Sabak stepped up and buried his second goal of The Island Games to make it 1-1.

Both sides came close to taking the lead later in the match, but this one would end 1-1 to open up the second round.

Full highlights of HFX Wanderers vs Forge FC:

After a dramatic late winner from Marco Bustos to get them into the second round, Pacific FC opened up their Group Stage schedule with a game against league-leading Cavalry FC.

Cavalry came out firing, creating a few good chances in the opening minutes, before being awarded a penalty. Mohamed Farsi, one of the best players of the tournament thus far, was wreaking havoc in and around the penalty area, and was brought down in the 15th minute. Captain Nik Ledgerwood calmly stepped up and calmly converted the penalty to make it 1-0.

Nico Pasquotti had a brilliant chance to make it 2-0 a few minutes later, but his shot nearly ended up in another time zone. Pasquotti was forced to leave the game about 10 minutes later with what a knee problem, and was replaced by Bruno Zebie.

Elijah Adekugbe doubled The Cavs’ lead in the 49th minute. He was first to the loose ball before a couple of clever touches set himself up for a tidy finish.

A Dominick Zator own goal a few minutes later would give Pacific hope going into the final 35 minutes or so, but despite their hard work, were unable to find an equalizer.

The aforementioned Mohamed Farsi continued his Man Of The Match-worthy performance with his first CPL goal in the 75th minute, stealing the ball before closing in on goal and firing an inch-perfect shot across the face of the goal. The strike made it 3-1, which is how the match would end.

Full highlights of Cavalry FC vs Pacific FC:

What’s next?

Up next, Forge take on Pacific on Saturday afternoon, followed by Cavalry and HFX in the evening.

Here’s the full schedule for stage two at The Island Games:

Canadian Premier League