2022 CPL Playoffs — Semifinal Leg 2
Forge FC vs. Cavalry FC (1-1 agg.)
October 23, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. MT
Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario
Watch Live: & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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Forge FC will look to advance to their fourth straight Canadian Premier League final when they face Cavalry at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday, who will be keen to return to their first final since the inaugural one in 2019.

With no away goals rule in effect in this year’s playoffs, the two sides are truly at a stalemate currently. They drew 1-1 in a tightly contested opening leg at ATCO Field in Calgary, with Daan Klomp’s first-half goal being nullified by a Woobens Pacius header early in the second half.

As a result, it is all to play for during this match, and 90 minutes, plus potential penalties should proceedings remain tied, will decide the season for both sides.

“Without the away goals we can basically say it is 0-0, and it is a one-game knockout to the finals,” said Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci. “I think that plays into a bit of an advantage for us where we can go there and realistically the pressure always lies on the home team.”

That home advantage is something that Forge has used well during the history of this fixture. They have lost just twice in seven all-time matches against Cavalry at Tim Hortons Field, including a win in the first leg of the 2019 final.

RELATED: Ten of the biggest Forge FC matches held at Tim Hortons Field

RELATED: ‘This isn’t the past’: Cavalry FC looking to write a new story at Tim Hortons Field on Sunday

However, part of the mentality for Cavalry going into this match is recognizing that the past is the past. They know that this Forge side has struggled in ways they perhaps haven’t in the past.

“They are a terrific side, they are very well coached, and they’ve got some valuable players,” said Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. “But they are also vulnerable at times, and I don’t think they have had as good of a home record as they would have once liked, so it is not the fortress that people make it out to be. It is a terrific place to go, we’ve just got to play up to it.”

Playing up to the occasion will mean a need to end an unfortunate trend for Cavalry in matches between the two sides this season. In four of the five meetings between these two sides in 2022 Cavalry had the lead. They blew that lead each time, including in the lone match they won against Forge this year and the first leg of this semifinal.

For Forge, they are just 90 minutes away from a fourth straight final. After winning the first two North Star Shields in the league’s history, they lost the final at home against Pacific FC last year. They are looking to get back to that stage and lift their third North Star Shield.

“What we have set as the standards at Forge, especially after that first year of winning, it is just consistently trying to do it every single year,” said Forge attacker Tristan Borges. “Obviously, every team wants to win but for us it is just trying to understand that we have the experience to go out there and do it again.”

There will be some game-time decisions made by Cavalry when they get to Hamilton, but they travelled with 20 players, including Charlie Trafford and Sergio Camargo who both could potentially be available for Sunday’s match.

Forge, for their part, will have plenty of options heading into this match as well. The one question mark remains centre-back Daniel Krutzen, who Smyrniotis said the group continues to evaluate as to whether or not he will be available for Sunday’s match.

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  • Woobens Pacius a major threat again after breaking goalless drought: Forge FC scored just nine times in their final eleven matches of the 2022 regular season. A big reason for that was the struggles of their 2022 leading goalscorer, Woobens Pacius, who scored 10 times this past season, but did not find the back of the net in the final 11 contests of the year. He finally broke that goalless drought early in the second half of the first leg, a goal that couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hammers for multiple reasons. It not only meant they returned home with the tie all square, but where one goal has come for the 21-year-old striker, many more usually follow. In July, for example, when Pacius was CPL player of the month, he scored six goals. For a Forge attack that has lacked a focal point in front of goal of late, a return to form for Pacius would go a long way towards them lifting a third North Star Shield. “That’s what we are hoping for tomorrow,” Smyrniotis said with a laugh, “when one comes three come after that. So if that can come tomorrow that would be great. But, no it is excellent for him, he puts in a lot of work like all the guys in training and for a striker, you can be part of a game all the time but what you want to do is put the ball in the back of the net. That gives you the most joy, and it gives your team the most joy.”
  • Can Cavalry find success in counter-attacking approach? During the first leg of this tie, at home at Spruce Meadows, Cavalry adopted a somewhat surprising approach. The side, who usually relish the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Forge, sat back a little more than usual and looked to hit the visitors on the break. The 38 per cent possession they had during that match was the lowest they have had against Forge all season.  The Cavs were mimicking, perhaps, the styles of Valour and Atlético Ottawa that have proven effective at frustrating and defeating Forge at times this season. On Sunday, away from home with even less pressure to dictate the tempo and terms of the match, Cavalry will again likely look to sit back and use Forge’s greatest strength, their ability to hold and shift the ball, against them as they look for gaps left by this aggressive style. “They’ve got some nice rotations, nice patterns, they are very synchronized in the way they do things,” said Wheeldon Jr. “It is a strength because it has given them success, but also you see the teams who have beaten them, and they haven’t had a great run over the last ten or eleven games, because people have figured out what their strengths are.”
  • Penalty kicks haven’t been kind to either side: If neither side can find a breakthrough during 90 minutes on Sunday, the match will head to spot kicks at Tim Hortons Field. Given their respective histories from spot-kicks, however, perhaps neither side will be particularly keen to see it get to that point. Cavalry was eliminated from the Canadian Championship this year in heartbreaking fashion after taking a lead against the eventual champions Vancouver Whitecaps, only to fall on penalties at Spruce Meadows. Forge, meanwhile, lost on penalty kicks to Toronto FC in the 2020 Canadian Championship final. Penalties have been particularly unkind to Forge, who lost to CF Montréal during an 11-round penalty shootout in the 2021 Canadian Championship semi-finals. The year prior, they bowed out in the quarterfinals of Concacaf League after a loss on penalties to Haitian side Arcahaie. While this gives them significantly more experience than Cavalry when it comes to penalty kicks, that history can certainly also weigh on the club’s penalty takers.


Cavalry wins: 6 || Forge wins: 9 || Draws: 4

Previous match:

October 15, 2022 — Cavalry 1-1 Forge FC


“It is great that we have got them on our pitch here. We win the majority of our matches here, but we have also lost games here. So you just have to make sure that you take the energy of the crowd, you make sure that you are sharp in doing what you do. We know with those two things combined a lot of positivity comes out of us playing at Tim Hortons Field” — Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis

“Especially when it comes to playing Cavalry you never know if [there will be] a goal in the first minute or the 90th minute with them. Obviously, that is something that we know as a team. For us we have played them multiple times so we have a good understanding of it.” — Forge FC attacker Tristan Borges

“Really enjoy going there. The fans are great because they have the songs that they’ve written for us, which if they are writing songs for us you know that you are inside their heads.” — Cavalry FC head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

“It all comes down to Sunday, we know in this league anything can happen on any given day and we will prepare as best as we can to go there and come out with the result we need to get to the final.” — Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci

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