The matchup is officially set for the 2021 CPL final as Pacific FC and Forge FC will battle it out for the North Star Shield!
It was Pacific FC who were first to book their spot in the final after escaping Spruce Meadows with a gutsy 2-1 victory over Cavalry FC on Saturday.
Cavalry FC dominated possession for most of the match but did not create enough high-quality chances to grab a second goal. In the end, Pacific FC did enough during the 90 minutes to take the match to extra-time and grab the win. The dramatic semi-final was decided by a controversial Marco Carducci own-goal in the 105th minute after Kunle Dada-Luke just about kept the ball alive on the byline and directed it through the Cavalry keeper’s legs.
GOAL— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) November 20, 2021
DRAMA on the 105-minute mark of this 2021 #CanPL PLAYOFF clash, as @PacificFCCPL get the go-ahead goal vs. @CPLCavalryFC by the narrowest of margins
Kunle Dada-Luke finishes a wonderful transition, stunning the Cavs!
TELUS ch. 980 | https://t.co/hishXepRT3 pic.twitter.com/t7TiT4FrIJ
Manny Aparicio was influential throughout the match but it was the introduction of Kunle Dada-Luke off the bench for PFC which proved to be decisive. He provided the energy his team needed during extra-time, working diligently at both ends of the pitch and playing a crucial role in the Cavalry own-goal.
This result will sting for the Cavs and their supporters, especially for a team accustomed to getting results at home, as the club have lost at home on only five previous occasions. After another successful regular season, Tommy Wheeldon Jr and his squad will have to go back to the drawing board in order to figure out how to capture that elusive CPL championship.
For Pacific FC, getting this away win against a strong Cavalry side can be seen as a massive achievement as they get to keep their exciting CPL campaign alive. Getting a big result without one of the league’s best players in Marco Bustos will also give the team confidence ahead of their first CPL final.
Head coach Pa-Modou Kah will surely be delighted with how his second year in charge of the club has gone and he will be looking forward to cap off a great season with some silverware.
On the other side of the bracket, Forge FC will be making their way back to the CPL final for the third successive season after defeating local rivals York United 3-1 in Hamilton on Sunday.
Forge controlled the tempo of the game from the start, firing 22 shots towards the York United goal. A chipped effort from Michael Petrasso allowed York to get back into the match before halftime, but Forge showed their playoff experience after the break.
Joshua Navarro slid through the York backline to receive a pass and give his team their second lead of the day in the 66th minute. Forge were then able to extend their lead in the 73rd minute from a Kyle Bekker corner kick which deflected off of two York defenders and past Nathan Ingham in goal.
York United have much to be proud of after a terrific regular season display. Many expected the side to struggle again this season, but making the playoffs should be seen as a success in itself. There should be no shame in losing away to Forge with the type of form they have been in this season.
It has been a long season for Bobby Smyrniotis and his Forge side as they have been able to make deep runs in the Canadian Championship, CONCACAF League, and now the CPL playoffs.
Speaking about this postgame, Smyrniotis credited his side’s perseverance:
“That seems to be the story of our season. But the one thing we do is we keep on going, and that’s what I love about this group.”
Only time will tell if Forge will have enough left in the tank to secure a historic CPL threepeat when they come up against Pacific FC next month.
The 2021 CPL final is scheduled for December 5 at 4:30 pm EST at Tim Hortons Field. You can watch the match on OneSoccer.