Pacific FC crashed out at the quarter-final stage of the Canadian Championship as they lost on penalties to York United in heartbreaking fashion.
Fate seemed to be wearing purple after centre-back Amer Didic, who had already scored one goal in the first half, smashed home a half-volley from the edge of the box with the last kick of the game to tie it up 2-2.
But ultimately it wasn’t to be for Pacific, with talisman Marco Bustos missing the decisive penalty and letting York steal victory 4-3 on penalties.
It was a frustrating game for the home team, who looked to be in charge after some early pressure saw Didic rise highest from a corner to head the ball into the net and give Pacific FC an early lead.
But York landed two body blows soon after, first as defender Roger Thompson scored with a free header from a corner to level the game after 25 minutes. Head coach James Merriman shared his frustrations in a post-match interview about his side’s struggles with defending from set-pieces this season.
“The set-piece goals need to stop,” said Merriman. “We’re letting teams into games in my opinion. The way that we started it shouldn’t have gone to where it got to and we have nobody else to blame but ourselves on the goal. We’ve given them a goal.”
Six minutes later it was another ball from out wide that Pacific FC failed to deal with as Osaze de Rosario stole in to head home and give York a 2-1 lead against the run of play.
“In terms of the second goal – full responsibility for myself,” said Didic after the game. “It’s a cross that for me, it’s where I’m caught flat-footed and I’m not getting there in time. So that’s on me for that one and nothing else.”
PFC struggled for the remainder to break down a physical York team – who had six yellow cards in the game. York used every trick in the book to try and preserve their lead and seemed to have done it, until Didic tied the game.
Due to the Canadian Championship being a knockout competition, the game went to penalties. Alejandro Diaz stepped up first and despite his good form in front of goal, he missed from 12 yards. Pacific FC was given a chance when York missed their fourth penalty but ultimately fell short in the shootout.
“Our attacking players now need to be more clinical and more ruthless in the final act,” said Merriman. “I felt we had great chances in the first 10 to 15 minutes of the match – you take those chances it’s maybe two or three goals now and it doesn’t come to where we lost the penalties here.”
The loss means Pacicifc FC will progress no further in the Canadian Championship. Last year PFC defeated the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps and the Calgary Cavalry on their way to the semi-finals of the competition, where they lost 2-1 to Toronto FC.
Pacific FC will be back in action at the Starlight Stadium on May 28 against Valour. PFC is in first place in the CPL with 17 points, while Valour sits in sixth with eight points, albeit having played two fewer games.