Spring surprises for us & based upon the 2019 seasons final standings, the though of Pacific finishing near the top appears to be a pipe dream. The pre-season was intense & challenging but the players are prepared for what’s ahead. More signings joined the squad with a full squad of 23 players. One huge frustration is being able to bring a squad together when the salary cap is so low.
We’ve been trying to bring in players that will add a new dynamic to the squad, however the main issue is that we’ve found ourselves looking at the Canadian lower leagues for new signings. With Year One complete, it’s time to run through how it went & see what unfolded.
Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare is a player that I always kept an eye on. Once Ottawa had folded & several players were available, Jeremy was high on the list. An impressive midfielder who can play in several roles could be a pivotal part of the season. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays alongside Blasco or Gonzalez.
Something you’ll notice is that a huge amount of signings have been for the defensive unit. I certainly rate Carter Manley as the best so far. A player who was at Forward Madison last year, he’s a full back who likes to attack & has a very good head on him. At 24, his best years are yet to come & hopefully we will see him in a Pacific shirt for years to come. His athletic prowess will prove key this year as he’ll look to link with out wide man on the right.
As the season slowly comes into the horizon, the Pacific squad slowly starts taking shape. Kamal Miller joins on loan from Orlando for the season & Striker Theo Bair signs from Vancouver. The additions made were very much needed as the 2020 squad looks a polar opposite from the 2019 squad. We’ve had a very, very intense pre-season but the schedule only allowed 2 games to be played. A superb 7-1 win over CS St-Hubert & a 5-2 win over Whitecaps Academy. Fitness levels were peaking & the squad were more than ready to get started. So, let’s get into it, the 10 game Spring season review.
Spruce Meadows was ready. Cavalry were ready. We were ready. It was game time, Match-day one is here & We are more than ready to start the season off with a win. We lined up with a familiar formation, the 4-2-3-1 that we’ve been working on. We certainly started the brighter.
Cavalry, having performed well last year were looking more comfortable on the ball, but struggled to break us down. Our wide play is where we excelled. Several of our new additions played including Theo Bair who hit the crossbar in the 12th minute.
Ben Fisk opened the scoring shortly afterwards with a wonderfully timed header from a Maxim Tissot corner kick. Fisk rose high above everyone else & powerfully put the ball into the back of the net. Things went quiet after the goal, both teams were knocking the ball around without really causing too much of an issue. Our constant possession caused Cavalry to panic & on the hour mark we got our rewards.
Fisk grabbed his second of the game in the 89th minute from the penalty spot. Theo Bair went on a clever run, beating 3 of the 4 Cavalry defenders before having his shirt pulled. It did look like he went down rather easy but I’m sure the Pacific fans were happy to see the referee point to the spot. Pacific pick up 3 points as Cavalry really struggled to garner anything from that game.
Full Time // 2-0 Win
After the opening game, we had our other 9 spread over the course of May & June winning more than we lost. After picking up a win over Cavalry in the first game, we slowly dropped in form. A scrappy 1-0 defeat at Forge met with an equally scrappy 0-0 draw away at Edmonton saw our form dip and our results started to suffer as a result of that.
Valour were the only team with worse form coming into the game & having several players out injured. Coming into the game & with our confidence rather low, we must’ve dreamed of a good win & a good win is what we got. This was the turning point that we truly needed in our season, it gave us reason to believe we could win the league.
A loss to York 9 followed in a very disheartening performance. We were outplayed right from the start & never really hit the levels we are capable of, even the usually reliable Ben Fisk struggled. We really lacked that cutting edge, we lacked that final ball that we relied on heavily against Valour. The only blessing is that the following game was at Westhills & it came against Valour, a very winnable tie.
Like the previous Valour tie, we came out with a gameplan & we stuck to it. We were like a team renewed, we actually played with a purpose. Our plan was to attack down either flank as the weakest part of the Valour squad is fullbacks, Fisk performed well once again & took control on the left assisting for both goals. Theo Bair is one of those players that will either perform or struggle & he’s slowly starting to find his feel at Westhills.
Two big wins on the bounce against Forge & Edmonton gave us confidence on finishing the season on a high. We seemed to be hitting top form sitting just outside the the Championship place, sitting 2 points behind York 9. The loss against HFX was disappointing but the follow up was perfect.
The final game of the spring season saw us take on HFX in a replay of the previous game. The thing that disappoints me is that after our loss at HFX, York 9 had qualified for the Championship Final. We walked away with a superb 4-0 win over HFX at Westhills with Theo Bair bagging 3 before Gonzalez finished it in the 88th minute. We missed out in the Championship by 3 points, a huge disappointment.
This is the easiest decision I’ve made so far, Sir Benjamin Fisk is our player of the season. His performances have been absolutely superb this season. He’s been put out on the Left Wing with the role of an Inside Forward. So far, he has reaped the rewards.
So to sum up the Spring Season. it was rather hit & miss. We were very frail defensively even in the games we had won. We go straight into the fall season on the back of this & in the mean time, we’ll try and make a few defensive additions. Our overall play has been good. Our wide men have done what they’re meant to do in terms of create chances & dominate the wings. It also helps that our fullback push forward & look for overlaps.
Our main concern goes back to defending. We have several things that we need to work on as we push for the final championship place. When we reach the final third, we excel but it’s those bits inbetween where things get scrappy. Time to tighten up and move on!