With Stewie the Starfish and over 5,000 fans cheering them on, the brand new Pacific FC brought home a historic win Sunday afternoon in Langford, beating the HFX Wanderers 1-0 to become the first ever winning team of the Canadian Premier League (CPL).
The one and only goal was scored by defender Hendrick Starostzik of Marburg, Germany about 30 minutes into the first half of the game against the Halifax-based team.
“For me it’s not the biggest thing,” Starostzik said, when asked how he felt about the goal. “For me the biggest thing is to win the game.
Because I am a defender I want to have a clean sheet. It was a great feeling for me, but it doesn’t matter if the striker makes the goal, I am still happy.”
The sold out stands watched as the Vancouver Island team pushed for a second goal in the second half but held out for the 1-0 win.
“I think the level is good here,” Starostzik said. “In Germany the intensity is much higher. But we can work on it. It’s for all the teams the first match, so I think step by step the teams will be better.”
Pacific FC's Hendrick Starostzik scored the single winning goal of the game. But the defender wants to amp up the intensity at the next game. @Pacificfccpl #CPL #VancouverIsland pic.twitter.com/Vbl0WiKbb5— Nina Grossman (@NinaGrossman) April 29, 2019
Congrats to @Pacificfccpl who have the first EVER win in Canadian Premier League history!!!— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) April 29, 2019
Still, the newly-formed Pacific FC is feeling pretty good leaving the field today.
“It’s good to get that first win out of the way,” said head coach Michael Silberbauer. That’s how it is every season and it’s good to have that put under the belt already, it’s good to have that out of the way and then we can move forward from here.
The boys have trained really well. This is not the finished product yet, but from where we started to where we are now, I think we’ve come a long way.”
“It was nice to see all that purple out there on the stand,” Silberbauer added. “I think the boys put on a good show. [They played] good football and at the end when they had to fight it over the line, they did that as well.”
"It's good to get that first win out of the way," said @Pacificfccpl head coach Michael Silberbauer after the team won its inaugural Canadian Premier League game 1-0 against the HFX Wanderers. #VancouverIsland #PFC pic.twitter.com/l6IO7HcKcf— Nina Grossman (@NinaGrossman) April 29, 2019
Held at the Westhills Stadium in Langford, the game was only the second match of the Canadian Premier League, which saw a tie game between the Hamilton Forge FC and Toronto’s York 9 FC during its game Saturday in Hamilton.
That makes the newly-formed Pacific FC the first team to earn a win in the league – and puts them in the lead with three points towards the CPL Championships.
The stadium’s sold out seats held fervent fans of all ages from across B.C. with no shortage of enthusiasm.
“We’ve been waiting a long time to see pro soccer in Canada, period.” said Adam Kostanuick of Victoria. ““[The game] so far is amazing. They did a great job with the stadium and logistics are pretty solid, it will all be ironed out within a few weeks I think. Everybody is pretty into it. It’s awesome, love it.”
“We had to go to Whitecaps games to see anything close to pro soccer here,” added Peter Vitchev. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Nanaimo-based Lower Island Soccer Association player Hayley Weeks watched from the sidelines with her teammates, excited to see the Island team win the second CPL game in history.
“It’s definitely an opportunity for these guys to get recognized and maybe play in a higher league one day, said Hayley Weeks. “It would be cool if there was a womens league one day, that would be something to look forward to.”
Pacific FC was founded in 2018 and is the first professional level soccer team on Vancouver Island, making Sunday’s game one for the books. But putting two coastal teams head to head was also a historic match up for Canadian sports in general.
The CPL was founded in 2017 to capitalize on the growing call for soccer in North America coming on the heels of growing viewership in professional soccer over recent years. This April marks the new national professional men’s soccer league’s official opening. Seven clubs from five provinces will play for the CPL championship as well as against premier Canadian clubs from other leagues in the Canadian Championship.