CPL Finals: Pacific FC looks to win first-ever North Star Shield in Hamilton

Pacific FC celebrates a goal at Starlight Stadium

PREVIEW – The North Star Shield will be awarded on Sunday, December. 5. Forge FC (based in Hamilton) will look to make it three in a row. This is while Pacific FC (based in Langford and in Greater Victoria) looks to win their first-ever North Star Shield. It is everything to play for each team for different reasons.

Pacific FC looks to win their first-ever North Star Shield against Forge FC

Pacific FC

Brief background

Pacific FC finished both the 2019 and 2020 CPL seasons in fourth place. This year though, it was different. They became only the second CPL-based team to eliminate an MLS-based side from a cup competition. With everything Hamilton has accomplished so far, they have not yet eliminated an MLS-side from a cup competition.

Pacific then came close to making the Canadian Championship Final. They were down 2-0 on the road at half-time. Langford then got one goal back against Toronto FC at BMO Field. However, they were not able to complete the comeback and lost the game 2-1. Pacific’s leading scorer is Terran Campbell with 23 goals and Marco Bustos with 19 goals. Additionally, Alejandro Diaz has scored 13 goals. In terms of assists, Bustos leads the team with six assists, followed closely by Campbell with five assists.

Road to the 2021 CPL Final

The team that Pacific has been chasing in the west is Cavalry FC (representing Calgary). Both in 2019 and 2020 they finished below Cavalry FC. However, finally this year they were able to turn the tide. This is what Langford’s head coach, Pa-Modou Kah said about the game according to CPL Soccer:

“Character and resilience, that’s what they showed and that’s what they’ve been showing the whole year. That’s why they deserve the victory, right and I don’t know what to say. Well, I don’t know what to say, this is the first time I am speechless because of what they’ve done.”

This game marked the second time Pacific eliminated Cavalry from a major competition. They also eliminated Calgary from the Canadian Championship this year. A mark that shows how special this team is. It was a tight affair for both teams. However, it looked like Langford was the better team against Calgary on the road. They threw the first punch with Terran Campbell scoring the first goal. Calgary fought back with a goal of their own in the 47-minute from Karifa Yao.

The thing is that Pacific never gave up on the game, showing great resilience. This characteristic can be seen in the game-winner for Pacific. The goal counted as an own goal from Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci. Carducci should have known better and been ready to make a save even if the ball was off the line. Saying that the goal should have been given to Kunle Dada-Luke. He never gave up on the play and his shot gave Pacific their first-ever CPL Finals appearance.

Forge FC

Brief background

Forge FC is the two-time defending North Star Shield champions. They also won both CPL Finals convincingly. As the underdogs, they defeated favourites Cavalry FC both at home and on the road. Then in the 2020 CPL Finals, Hamilton won 2-0 against the HFX Wanderers FC (based in Halifax).

For the second year in a row, Hamilton is the favourite to win the North Star Shield. They finished tied for first with Cavalry in the CPL. However, Hamilton had a better goal differential and hence why they finished first. Tristan Borges leads the team with 16 goals. He also leads the team with six assists.

Road to the 2021 CPL Final

The only team to beat Forge at Tim Hortons Field twice this year was York United FC. York might have fancied their chances against Hamilton. It looked like it was going to be a tight game at half-time. Tristan Borges delivered a terrific pass to Woobens Pacius for Hamilton’s first goal. However, Michael Petrasso of York took advantage of Forge goalkeeper Triston Henry’s mistake. It was 1-1 at half-time.

However, Joshua Navarro had a terrific second half, which led to Hamilton scoring two more goals. Forge would win 3-1 over their 905 derby rivals and end York’s season. In all, Hamilton was clearly the better team against York. Just like York took advantage of Hamilton’s mistake in the first half, Hamilton was even more ruthless in the second half.

This is what Borges, their leading scorer, said about Pacius according to CPL Soccer:

“He showed up, he’s been showing up the games he comes in, he scores goals at the end of the day he’s a striker and that’s his most important attribute to have and he’s been he’s been scoring.”

CPL Finals Overview

As mentioned before, Hamilton was clearly the better team in both finals. They also had Pacific FC’s number this season. These teams have faced each other three times this year. All three times ended with Hamilton becoming the victor. This included a 2-1 win on September 25 according to AiScore.

Prediction: Forge FC 3, Pacific FC 2

Saying that Pacific will most likely give a fight against Hamilton. They have that ability to be competitive seen in the Canadian Championship. However, there is a reason why Hamilton has been so successful. They are now a team worthy of being in the Concacaf Champions League and can compete with Central American club teams. Also, Pacific has to get the win on the road.

Either way, it is a win-win for Canadian Soccer. For example, both teams’ coaches in the CPL Final were interviewed nationally by TSN’s Luke Wileman. Also, either way, history is going to be made. Pacific could win their first-ever North Star Shield. It is important to note that Forge won the North Star Shield in 2019 and 2020, but not in Hamilton. The game kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field. The game in Hamilton, Ontario will be shown live on OneSoccer and Telus.

Picture credit to James MacDonald of CPL on August 26, 2021.