Cavalry FC and Forge FC drew the first leg of their Canadian Premier League semifinal on Saturday afternoon, as goals on either side of halftime resulted in a 1-1 stalemate at Spruce Meadows.
Forge came flying out of the gates, beginning the match with a pace and momentum that Cavalry were struggling to deal with. Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson nearly gave the visitors an early lead, smashing a volleyed shot off the bottom of the crossbar. He didn’t get a lucky bounce, however, and the ball bounced back out and eventually away from danger.
As Cavalry eased their nerves and started to get things under control a bit better, they grew into the match, and just before the half-hour mark nearly opened the scoring in front of their home supporters with three shots in quick succession.
On a quick counter-attack up the pitch, Roberto Alarcon forced a big save out of Triston Henry with a well-struck shot. The rebound fell to the in-form Ali Musse, who had his follow-up effort blocked by the Forge goalkeeper’s outstretched leg. The ball from the second blocked shot fell to Miki Cantave, whose shot sailed high over the crossbar, but it was much better from the home side.
Cavalry opened the scoring a few minutes before the break, from the head of Daan Klomp. The Dutch defender made a fantastic run into the box and got his head onto a cross from Joe Mason, redirecting it past Henry before wheeling away in celebration. That lead would hold for the next few minutes, as the Cavs took a 1-0 advantage into the break.
Forge wasted no time at all getting back into the match, however, scoring a minute into the second half. Woobens Pacius, who had a quiet opening 45 minutes by his standards, got his head onto a Kyle Bekker free kick, heading it past Marco Carducci. Away goals are not a factor in the Canadian Premier League playoffs, but it was still a valuable tally for The Hammers regardless.
A scrappy match throughout, as we’ve come to expect whenever these teams play each other, neither side gave each other an inch. Both sides weren’t shying away from strong challenges, and there were several scuffles as a high-intensity game between two bitter rivals played out.
Neither side was able to find the elusive winning goal, however, and the match finished in a 1-1 draw. These two clubs will meet again for an enticing second leg next week at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, with kickoff set for 5:00 pm ET/ 3:00 pm MT.