Match Report – Pacific FC v Atlético Ottawa: Hard-fought draw gives Pacific some breathing room in coveted top-two spots
September 14, 2023
Story of the Match
Coming away from the nation’s capital with a result is never an easy task these days, but Pacific FC battled hard on Wednesday to pick up a point against Atlético Ottawa. The Tridents fought all match long and will feel they did enough on both sides of the ball to get all three points, but a 1-1 draw is still a positive for Pacific. Picking up any points you can on the road is crucial at this stage of the season, and to pair that with many encouraging individual performances will give Pacific a boost going forward.
In the match itself, the Tridents came out on the front foot in the first half and were rewarded with a goal from Steffen Yeates about half an hour in. The goal was Yeates’ first for the club and featured a brilliant turn on the edge of the box to free himself before firing into the roof of the net. That goal gave Pacific the halftime lead, but it was just a few minutes into the second half that Emil Gazdov was called upon to literally save the Tridents after Ottawa were awarded a penalty. With the golden boot leader, and former Trident, Ollie Bassett stepping up to take it, it felt like a tall task for Gazdov in goal. The youngster read Bassett’s body shape, however, and made a phenomenal save to keep the game in Pacific’s favour. Unfortunately, there was nothing the goalkeeper could do 15 minutes later when Ottawa curled in a free-kick from just outside the box that found the top corner and levelled the game.
Although frustrated not to get the win in the end, this performance maintained Pacific’s grasp on second place in the Canadian Premier League table. With how playoffs are structured this year, finishing in the top two places gives you a second life in the playoffs if you lose your first match – which acts as one semi-final match. On the other hand, if you win that game as the second seed you go straight to the final and host it. So with just four matches remaining, all of them are absolutely massive as the Tridents continue to push for all silverware available.
The Tridents’ tour of Ontario continues on the weekend as they travel just north of Toronto to face York United FC. After picking up a point against Ottawa, Pacific will be focused on using that as a springboard going forward, starting with this match on Sunday. Notably, three points against the Nine Stripes could clinch a playoff spot for Pacific if the result of the HFX Wanderers FC v Atlético Ottawa game goes their way (a victory for the Wanderers).
This is also the last match of the CPL weekend, so we’ll be able to see how the tables shapes up before the Tridents take the pitch. Even still, it’ll be crucial for the team not to get ahead of themselves as it won’t be a walk in the park at York Lions Stadium.
PFC Standout Player: Emil Gazdov
After helping Pacific break the 2,000 U-21 minute minimum during the last match against Halifax, Gazdov continued to show many signs of growth against Ottawa on Wednesday. The recently-turned 2o-year-old was a commanding presence in his area, especially when faced with a penalty from Ottawa’s talisman, Bassett. With Pacific 1-0 up at the time of the penalty being awarded, it felt as though the tides were starting to turn against the Tridents. However, Gazdov stepped up to make an incredible save down low to his left and keep out the penalty before smothering the second effort off the rebound. Along with that penalty stop, Gazdov made five more saves – many of which highlighted the incredible athleticism and reflexes he possesses.
Gazdov has grown immensely this season and repaid the faith shown in him by the coaching staff with another brilliant performance in goal on Wednesday.