HIGHLIGHTS: Atletico Ottawa vs. Pacific FC (Leg 2, Oct. 23, 2022)
Atlético Ottawa advanced to their first ever Canadian Premier League final on Sunday afternoon, drawing 1-1 with Pacific FC at TD Place, and winning the semifinal tie 3-1 on aggregate.
Playing in front of a large crowd in the nation’s capital, the home side wasted no time creating a scoring chance. Ballou Tabla, who was announced as one of the league’s Player of the Year nominees this week, picked up the ball at the edge of the penalty area and fired a shot at Callum Irving, but it missed just low and wide of the Pacific goalkeeper’s left post.
Irving’s counterpart Nathan Ingham made a fantastic save in the 16th minute to deny Pacific the lead, diving to his right to turn away a header from Amer Didic off a corner kick that looked destined for the bottom left corner. Not to be outdone, Irving made another good save moments later, catching a curling shot and hanging onto it to deny the players rushing for a rebound.
Needing to overturn a 2-0 aggregate deficit, scoring the first goal was crucial for Pacific, and that’s exactly what they did in the 28th minute. After they won a corner, Kamron Habibullah floated a cross to the back post. Thomas Meilleur-Giguère rose above everyone to head the back back in the direction it came from, past Ingham and into the back of the net.
That would be the only goal of the opening half, sending The Tridents into the break up 1-0, but trailing 2-1 on aggregate.
Ottawa looked livelier in attack to start the second half than they did to end the first half, and it was Tabla again who nearly scored for his side. Again shooting from the edge of the 18-yard-box, Tabla missed high and wide this time, again aiming to place the ball into the corner of Irving’s goal.
The second half was end-to-end, with Pacific searching for a crucial equalizer and Ottleti looking to put the tie to bed, but neither side was really dominating the way Pacific did in the first half.
Pacific had a double-chance midway through the half, but still weren’t able to find the back of the net. Jordan Brown’s header was stopped by Ingham, before the Ottawa goalkeeper made another save seconds later to deny Josh Heard.
Trying to clear the second effort away, Drew Beckie and Miguel Acosta’s heads hit each other, and the former was down on the pitch receiving treatment for an extended period of time. Beckie walked off the pitch, but didn’t return to the match.
As the clock continued to wind down, and Pacific continued searching for that crucial second goal, head coach James Merriman was bringing all of his attackers off the bench, but it would be too little too late.
Malcolm Shaw sealed a 3-1 aggregate victory for the capital club, with a rocket from distance that Irving wasn’t able to stop, confirming Ottawa’s spot in the final. The final, next weekend, will take place in this very stadium as Ottawa were the number one seed entering the playoffs.
28′ — Thomas Meilleur-Giguère (Pacific FC)
83′ — Malcolm Shaw (Atlético Ottawa)
43′ — Yellow: Marco Bustos (Pacific FC)
64′ — Yellow: Abdou Samake (Pacific FC)
77′ — Yellow: Thomas Meilleur-Giguère (Pacific FC)
85′ — Yellow: Malcolm Shaw (Atlético Ottawa)