Pacific FC’s late comeback was squashed as the Islanders lost to Atletico Ottawa 2-1 in the capital in Canadian Premier League action.
The result leaves PFC’s perch atop the Canadian Premier League in jeopardy, as Ottawa moves within one point of PFC despite having played one fewer game.
The game was only PFC’s second loss of the season, but part of an alarming slide in form which has seen PFC win just one of their past five games in all competitions. Atletico Ottawa has been something of a surprise package this season, much improved after being the CPL’s whipping boys last year. PFC were lucky to win the previous matchup between these two teams 1-0 on May 7, but fared slightly better this time around, limiting Ottawa’s creativity.
The game was tight throughout the first half, and the breakthrough wouldn’t come until after the hour mark when a long ball caught the PFC defence flat-footed. Ottawa played a low cross into the six-yard box and Ottawa striker Malcolm Shaw bundled the ball in to make the score 1-0 after 62 minutes.
PFC struggled to find the breakthrough until 82 minutes was on the clock, when Josh Heard showed dogged persistence to scramble the ball in after Alejandro Diaz’s lofted through ball. There was a suspicion of handball as Heard tried to control but the referee waved away the Ottawans’ protests to tie the game up 1-1.
Thoughts of a PFC winner were dashed swiftly though as Ottawa rallied and scored the winner three minutes later. Amer Didic got caught out on the halfway line, Zach Verhoven beating him to the bouncing ball and breaking in behind. Didic chased back as Verhoven played the ball to former PFC man Ollie Bassett and, when the ball came back to Verhoven, he finished coolly to seal a 2-1 victory for the home team.
PFC head to Hamilton next as they prepare to face rivals Forge FC on June 12. Forge have recovered slightly after a poor start to the season – including a 3-2 loss to PFC on the opening day – and currently sit in fourth place.