For the first time in club history, Vancouver FC welcomed fans to Willoughby Community Park on Sunday, as they hosted their first-ever home match against Cavalry FC.
In front of a sold-out crowd, it was a special occasion for the club, as they continued their inaugural season with another big milestone.
Yet, despite the grandeur of the occasion, Cavalry would do well to spoil the hosts’ party in the end, as the game finished 1-1, with both teams splitting second-half goals following a first half red card from Vancouver saw the hosts reduced to 10 players.
To begin the game, however, both teams came out strongly, fuelled by the energy of the crowd.
After an early Jesse Daley chance saw the Cavalry midfielder send a shot well over the crossbar from outside of the box, Vancouver managed to win a free kick in a dangerous position in the 17th minute. There, they tried out an intricate set-piece routine, one that saw Gael Sandoval strike the ball with power, only finding himself denied by a commanding save by Marco Carducci.
Continuing to grow into the game, Vancouver had another look at goal in the 20th minute, as Sandoval found Shaan Hundal with a looped cross, but Hundal’s header would be comfortably saved by Carducci.
That momentum would soon be halted, however, as Vancouver’s Rocco Romeo would be given a straight red card following a collision with Myer Bevan in the 29th minute, leaving the home team to battle for the next 60 minutes down a player.
Boosted by having the extra player, Cavalry nearly got on the board in the 34th minute, as Mikaël Cantave floated a dangerous cross towards Bevan, one that would float just over his head and straight onto the post, much to the relief of Callum Irving in goal.
Then, in the 39th minute, Bevan managed to get into a dangerous area of the box after he was played in by Ali Musse, but he’d send his shot just over the goal from a tight angle.
From there, however, that’d be all that the first half would have to offer, leaving both teams to recollect their thoughts as they headed to the locker room for the break.
Turns out, Cavalry would benefit immensely from that, as they then came out of the gates flying in the second half.
Thanks to that, they opened the scoring nearly immediately, as a loose ball fell to Cantave in the box, where he did well to slot the ball through Eugene Martínez’s legs and into the bottom corner for the first goal of the game.
Yet, despite a goal that would’ve sunk most teams, Vancouver did well to hang in the game. As a result, they managed to tie the game up just minutes later.
After a great ball from Gael Sandoval to Shaan Hundal, the striker did well to hold off his defender and slot home for his third of the CPL season, sending the crowd into a rapture of noise as they celebrated their first-ever home goal.
Following the goal, however, Cavalry would do well to grab control of the play once again, as they pushed for another lead. Yet, they weren’t able to generate many shots to show for their efforts, as their next attempt didn’t come until the 70th minute, when Fraser Aird sent a half-volley just over the goal after a nice cross from Jose Escalanté.
At the other end, Vancouver continued to get looks of their own despite being down a player, and nearly scored as a result of that in the 75th minute. There, Bitar unleashed a powerful shot from just outside the box, with his shot sailing just wide after a deflection by a Cavalry defender.
Yet, after that push, Cavalry would get the best looks to end the match, as a strong Charlie Trafford header off of a corner deep into added time seemed goalbound, but Vancouver escaped danger as Irving made a fantastic diving stop to keep the game tied. Then, right after, Ethan Beckford had an even better look on a half-volley inside the box, but again Irving came up clutch with the big stop.
As a result, from there, that allowed Vancouver to see the draw over the line, as both teams were left to share the spoils in the end.
46′ –Mikaël Cantave (Cavalry FC)
52′ –Shaan Hundal (Vancouver FC)
7′ — Yellow: Eugene Martínez (Vancouver FC)
29′ — Red: Rocco Romeo (Vancouver FC)
45+3′ — Yellow: Gabriel Bitar (Vancouver FC)