On a Different Island: Pacific FC salvage draw late against York 9 via emphatic MacNaughton header

Pacific FC took on York 9 in an intense match at the Canadian Premier League’s ‘Island Games’ on Tuesday. Here is our recap from what was a tight battle between two early favourites for the top 4 after the first round.

One goal-it’s not usually enough to win a football match, but it almost was for York 9 FC, who surrendered their potential first win of the Island Games in the dying moments against Pacific FC.

Heading into the tournament, York and Pacific were considered to be very similar. They enjoyed a near-identical inaugural season, and with the changes made in the prolonged off-season, they stayed at a similar level. All that considered, the final result of 1-1- should not be too surprising.

York supporters (who are called Generation 9, although I think Yorkies is better) saw a welcome name return to the team sheet an hour before kick off, as team captain Manny Aparicio re-entered the fold after sitting out the opening match.

Pacfic FC, who are the youngest club in the league, and continued to trend that way with their off-season additions, looked lacklustre and lost  to start the match, but the islanders found their stride midway through the first half, stringing together a pair of  clear-cut chances. 

The first chance of the half for the Tridents came in the 26th minute, as new defender Thomas Meilleur-Giguere sent a one time volley off of a Marcel de Jong cross right into the palms of quick York goalkeeper, Nathan Ingham. 

Following the chance, Pacific continued to apply pressure throughout the first half, with their top chance in the 30th minute off another Marcel de Jong cross, but was headed wide by sophomore midfielder Alessandro Hojabrpour. 

For York, their first-half attack, as it did so often in 2019,  centred around Ryan Telfer. The former York University Lion has been a key piece to the Nine Stripes, both from set-pieces, as he was on Tuesday night, but also alongside the midfield, who have done so well providing for him throughout his time at the club. Although none of the free-kicks found their way to the back of the net, there was never any hesitation to send Telfer back to the set-piece. 

General theme of the first half? Forwards not finishing chances and not doing their jobs. 

Following a stingy hour of football, York’s Alvaro Rivero scored one of the nicest goals of the tournament so far. As seen below, the aforementioned Telfer wins an aerial ball against PFC defender Lukas MacNaughton, cancelling the defender from the play and springing Rivero behind the backline, where the former Real Madrid man made no mistake on sending the volley into twine. 

The goal came nine minutes after York manager Jimmy Brennan introduced Canadian International Michael Petrasso, who although coming from within the CPL (Valour), was a big addition to a not very exciting Nine Stripes midfield. 

Trailing by a goal into the final minutes of the match, Pacific drove forward, similar to the first half, leading to a late tying goal off yet another de Jong cross. MacNaughton, who lost the battle with Telfer on the opening goal, headed a whipped ball from Victor Blasco into the unsure hands of Nathan Ingham and into the goal, tying the game in the 91st minute. 

One goal didn’t prove to be enough for York 9, who let the two points slip through their fingers, both figuratively, and literally. 

Biggest Wonder: Zach Verhoven

After scoring in the opening match, former UBC Thunderbird Zach Verhoven was left on the bench once again, rather than finding a place among the starters. He is a fast and nifty winger, who has an eye for goal, yet found himself stuck on the sidelines for the majority of this game, even though the game called for a player of his type. 

“He’ll start at some point, we’ve been impressed with him [Zach Verhoven] so far, and everyone here is a starter in my mind,” said Pacific manager Pah-Modou Kah post-match, before going on to praise how good Verhoven has been in training. 

For a player who brings so much speed and can bring virtual fans to their feet, it was perplexing why he was not introduced to the match earlier, or didn’t get the opportunity to start. 

Best Tweet:

I’m just going to leave this here…

Dropped points, a short season?

With neither team having played the CPL powerhouses of Forge FC or Calvary yet, grabbing a pair of points from two matches is far from satisfactory. For Jimmy Brennan and York, they were simply disappointed to let the game slip in the dying moments, saying: “We’re disappointed in the result, We knew it was gonna be a tough match, we knew it was gonna be a grind, especially in this tournament you’ve got to do whatever you can to get a win.”

Brennan stresses the importance of each match in a tournament like this, where there are no second chances against either team. If letting these two points slip is the cause for elimination from the next round, that will be a tough pill to swallow for York 9.

Moving Ahead: York 9 getting up to speed

We saw spurts in this match of what the tandem of Mcihael Petrasso and Alvaro Rivero can do for York 9. The two newcomers have not had much time to train or settle into their new side, but after collecting their first minutes for the club, and putting in a good performance while doing so, CPL teams should be wary of the york attack moving forward. 

The Nine Stripes also saw the return of Manny Aparicio,  who will only get better with some more match play, and are also getting some reinforcements, as Brennan mentioned that Chris Mannella is not far away from game action. 

York 9’s next match is on Aug.22 against Petrasso’s old club, Valour FC. 

Pacific, who have continued to show progress under rookie manager Pah-Modou Kah, get set to take on Forge FC, one of the toughest opponents in the Canadian Premier League immediately following the York-Valour match.

Cover Photo: Canadian Premier League/Chant Photography

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