After big wins over York United FC and HFX Wanderers FC to start the playoffs, Pacific FC now travels to Calgary for a Canadian Premier League playoff semi-final against Cavalry FC on Saturday afternoon. The Tridents have been in this exact position before – a semi-final in Calgary and a potential final in Hamilton – during the 2021 season, which was the year the club took home its first-ever trophy thanks to two resilient victories in both cities.
This season, Pacific did not think their playoff path would look the way it has, but regardless, the team has come together when it matters most and pulled off two absolutely brilliant 1-0 wins. Thanks to those back-to-back victories, the momentum around the Tridents has grown immeasurably from how the regular season ended. The team has plenty of experienced leaders who have been in numerous big games before, and are able to mix that with the youthful exuberance of the younger players in the squad to create a unique dynamic that’s difficult to match.
Now, focusing back on this Saturday afternoon. The rivalry between Pacific and Cavalry has been well documented over the years. With many fiery games between these two in the rearview window, it’s fair to expect another intense battle in this playoff semi-final. The Tridents will be looking for a repeat of that victory in 2021 while the Cavs are still looking for their first playoff win in club history and will be plenty motivated to break that unwanted streak this weekend.
If there’s ever a match that has boat-loads of history behind it, it’s this one. Pacific and Cavalry have faced off countless times before with each occasion featuring something memorable.
Looking first at the games played against each other so far this season, it started with the teams meeting twice – three days apart – in just the second week of the season. The first of those matches, in CPL action, finished as a 1-1 draw, and the second, in the Canadian Championship also finished 1-1 and required penalties to find a winner. The Tridents came away with a huge shootout victory on the day and moved onto the next round, knocking Cavalry out of a cup competition again in the process. The rest of the 2023 season went Cavalry’s way with the Cavs winning the rest of the three meetings, including on the final day of the regular season.
Historically, however, Pacific has many fond memories of beating Cavalry in knockout football. In 2021, the Tridents won the Canadian Championship quarter-final matchup in Calgary before winning again in the Stampede City in the CPL Playoff semi-final. Will we see a repeat of 2021 when these two line up in the semi-final again? Or will Cavalry be able to enact some revenge over the Tridents?
The all-time head to head currently stands at 13 wins for Cavalry, seven wins for Pacific, and five draws.
“Now we’re right where we want to be, in the semi-final match. Okay we can’t host, but we know if we win this game we go to the final and give ourselves a chance to win another championship. We’re right where we want to be, we just took a longer route.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman
Keys to Victory
As we’ve seen, playoff football is different. It requires you to grind and scrap for everything. If we look back at Pacific’s success both during this season’s playoffs and in 2021, the results didn’t come from blowing the opponent away with slick attacking football. Three of those four wins were by a scoreline of 1-0, highlighting how tight and tense those matches were.
For Pacific to come away with another win in Calgary in knockout football, it’ll take every single player continuing to buy in and dig deep. Fight for loose balls, win your duels, and play for each other. Do the little things that add up.
There’s not much else to say. It’s do-or-die football at this point of the season and the Tridents have shown they’re willing to do whatever it takes to come out on top.
Match Facts to Know
- Read up on Pacific FC’s playoff journey to this point here.
- With back-to-back clean sheets, Emil Gazdov now has the most playoff clean sheets in club history. The 20-year-old also has two playoff wins to his name which ties him with Callum Irving for the most in club history.
- Pacific FC has never lost a playoff match away from home in club history. The Tridents’ all-time record in away playoff matches is four wins, one draw, and zero loses.