CPL Playoffs 2021 – Semifinals # 1
Cavalry FC vs. Pacific FC
November 20, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. MT / 12:00 p.m. PT
ATCO field in Calgary, Alberta
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After battling each other on both the pitch and the standings all season, only one season of Cavalry FC or Pacific FC continues beyond Saturday afternoon.
The two teams will meet at Cavalry ATCO Field, which is expected to be a cool afternoon for the first of two Canadian Premier League semi-finals to kick off at 1pm MT.
Should Forge FC beat York United in the second semi-final on Sunday, the final winner would visit Tim Hortons Field.
PRE-MATCH MEDIA CONFERENCES: WATCH: Cavalry FC Manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. speaks to the media ahead of Pacific FC semi-finals || WATCH: Pacific FC’s Pa-Modou Kah “no surprises” in Cavalry FC’s semi-finals
With such a big occasion, arguably the biggest game Pacific has played in CPL action, there is obviously a lot of excitement in both teams’ camps.
“The players are super excited, they have a lot of fun in training, they are happy, they smile, they look forward to it,” said Pa-Modou Kah, Pacific FC head coach. “I am so proud of this group, where we are from, how much work they put into it, and how much work it has put into it again and again. The demands and expectations we placed on them were phenomenal, now it’s up to them to go out and enjoy the game.
“Play the way we know we can play, fight like we know we can fight and then the result is the result.”
Cavalry are also looking forward to a midweek win against Forge with a rotated crew and are turning their attention to Saturday for another good performance.
“I was thrilled with the performance of the boys against Forge,” said cavalry chief Tommy Wheeldon Jr. before the game on Saturday. “We picked a squad that we thought could take a win over Forge and we planned well because we also knew we had to make sure we had the same respect when Pacific two weeks ago Has time to prepare for her with the guys we left behind.
“We wanted to make sure the schedule was still fresh … We’ll be as prepared as possible on Saturday in Spruce Meadows.”
It’s time for cavalry, Wheeldon Jr. hopes to take the next step and bring the North Star Shield to Alberta for the first time.
“This is the third time we’re in the CanPL playoffs, and I think hopefully it’s the third time we’re lucky,” said Wheeldon Jr. “Every season has been different. If we look at 2019, we won spring and fall and then had to play a home and away game, it was a two-legged final, and in 2020 it was a tournament format with a seven-game round robin, and then a four-team -Round robin. This is the third iteration with the third different type of playoff.
“We can’t look back and say what we’ve learned from it because every playoff format was different. This is a straight knockout, the only time we’ve competed in the Canadian Championship where it’s one and all done. I think it’s exciting, it’s exciting for the fans, I think it’s a great format. “
The two teams have met six times this season in the Canadian Premier League and in the quarter-finals of the 2021 Canadian Championship. In this competition Pacific FC prevailed, with Terran Campbell scoring the only goal of the game at ATCO Field.
They were pretty even in CPL, with the Cavs winning three of the six games, Pacific winning twice and the other ending in a 0-0 draw – the only goalless game ever between these teams.
Cavalry have won the last two games against The Tridents, most recently a 1-0 win at the stadium on November 9th. Joe Mason scored the only goal for Cavalry in Pacific’s last regular season game.
Including that game, Pacific FC lost seven of their last ten games before Saturday. They beat Valor FC twice during this period, including Edmonton FC 5-1, but lost the others, including a second loss to Cavalry and a semi-final loss in the Canadian championship to Toronto FC. A two week break between games could prove helpful for them as they could all prepare and rest for another big game.
Cavalry took the opposite form, losing only twice in the last 10 – to Valor FC and Atlético Ottawa. Most recently they played a 1-0 away win at Forge FC on Tuesday, with an early goal from Anthony Novak making the difference.
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3 THINGS TO SEE:
- Pacific focuses on what they can control and ignores what they can’t: With Calgary expected to be a cold afternoon, around 10 degrees colder than Langford, the hometown of the Pacific, the weather on Saturday may play a role in the semi-finals. Still, Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah is not worried. He reminded people in his pre-game press conference that the weather will affect both teams, even if the cavalry trained on it beforehand, and he’s not worried about that. “The weather doesn’t play along, nobody wins with the weather,” said Kah. “The game is the 90 minutes you play, the weather has nothing to do with the game. When we focus on the weather, we focus on the wrong – we focus on the game. “
- Wheeldon Jr. believes it is time for cavalry to take the next step: In the first three regular CPL seasons Cavalry was arguably the best team in the CPL, as they won or tied the league leadership in all three seasons. Nevertheless, they have not yet got their hands on the North Star Shield, lost in the 2019 final and narrowly missed the 2020 final at the eventual runner-up HFX Wanderers. Head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. believes 2021 will be the time for them to finally get over the border. “There’s an old saying … ‘form is temporary, class is permanent,'” Wheeldon Jr. said ahead of this game. “I think we were a team that, if you’ve got all the points in all the years we’ve played, was there or not. I think it is time we showed the class what this is about and try to end this as hard as we can. “
- Pacific misses MacNaughton and Dos Santos through suspension, Cavalrys Simmons is injured: After receiving his eighth yellow card of the season in Pacific’s penultimate game against York United, defender Lukas MacNaughton was suspended for two games. He missed the regular season final, a 1-0 loss to the same cavalry team, and will serve the second game of suspension in the semi-finals on Saturday. Striker Gianni Dos Santos was sent off at the end of the game and is also suspended from Saturday’s fight. Both would be eligible to return for the CPL final should Pacific Cavalry beat. The Cavs are the only player missing midfielder Elliot Simmons, who is struggling with a high ankle sprain. Nik Ledgerwood left Tuesday’s game against Forge FC with a hamstring problem as early as the ninth minute, but is everyday life and is being re-evaluated ahead of the game, according to head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
Kavallerie FC wins: 6 || Pacific FC wins: 4 || Pulls: 2
November 7, 2021 – Cavalry FC 1-0 Pacific FC
“Coming out of the bubble, Pacific was certainly the team everyone was talking about, and they led from scratch for a long, long time. I think they played the best football in the league. “- Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.
“There is nothing Tommy will do that I don’t expect, there is nothing I will do that he doesn’t expect. It will be a game with small margins, it is the small details that win and lose football games. At the end of the day, if we adjust our margins, we’ll win this game. ”- Pacific FC head coach Pa-Modou Kah