“Henry! Henry!” his name echoed out through the Hamilton night as a surprised Triston Henry turned and started walking towards the edge of the box. He rolled the ball out of the hands of his counterpart, CF Montréal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza, took a few more strides and stopped briefly to place the ball down on the penalty spot. Moments earlier, Henry had come painfully close to stopping a penalty from Montréal’s Joel Waterman and like any good goalkeeper, his mind now focused on stopping the next shooter. Only, this time he had another responsibility first. Behind the net, a media member had said something that caught Henry off guard -- the two sides had reached the 11th round. There was nobody on his team left to shoot. He was up next. Now facing the net he had so capably defended all night, Henry slowly approached the spot, and struck the ball to Breza’s right. “I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be taking a penalty,” said Henry. What happened next was more of a nightmare. Breza anticipated well and was able to smother Henry’s attempt. Then, after his own moment of confusion and realization that he too had to take a penalty, Breza wrongfooted Henry to secure victory for CF Montréal. It was October 27, 2021, and Breza’s penalty had just sent his side to the Canadian Championship final, leaving Forge to rue missed opportunities in a game that they still feel they should have won. Montréal would go on to lift the 2021 Voyageurs Cup. Nearly six months to the day, Forge and Montréal will renew acquaintances in the quarterfinals of this year’s Canadian Championship. As they step onto the Stade Saputo pitch on Wednesday, there will be one thing on the mind of the Forge players. “Rematch,” said Henry. “A little bit of redemption.”

David Choinière, for his part, has pretty fond memories of that October night. The Forge attacker remembers an impressive performance from his side, who in front of their home fans dictated the match against their MLS opponent. Deep in a playoff race at the time, CF Montréal coach Wilfried Nancy chose not to start several of his key players. Forge very nearly made him pay for that decision. The Hamilton side put Montréal under immense pressure for 90 minutes and had multiple chances to win the match. Those chances continued in the penalty shootout, where Henry made saves on Ballou Tabla and Samuel Piette. “It was a wild night, it was a fun night, but we didn’t end up winning,” recalled Choinière. “But it was overall a really good performance from our team and at that moment we knew we could compete with an MLS side without any problems.” It was a moment where they learned not to fear any opponent. Just a few months after that match, Forge became the first Canadian Premier League side to qualify for the Concacaf Champions League. That run in the Concacaf League took them through some of the most difficult and hostile environments in the region, culminating at the world-renowned Estadio Azteca, where they held their own against Cruz Azul. Since their inception on 2019, Forge have played in a stunning 27 knockout round matches, including the CPL playoffs, the Canadian Championship and continental competition. They will be armed with all of that experience as they head into Stade Saputo, looking to take another step towards returning to CCL action. “We understand the pressure and we understand that we have to give everything to get through to the next round no matter who the opponent is,” said Henry of what the team has learned in knockout situations. “So we can take that experience and use it in the game against Montreal. It is do-or-die and the better team on that day goes through.” Finding the motivation to give everything they have won’t be difficult. Beyond the opportunity for redemption, Forge players are looking forward to testing themselves against a very good Montreal side, who have had an excellent start to the season. “Every time you play an MLS side you are super motivated,” Choinière said. “You want to show that you are at that level, you want to show that you can compete against those guys and it is a moment for us to do it again and try to get that win” For Choinière this match will be something of a homecoming. The Québec native spent seven years in the CF Montréal organization before joining Forge. His brother, Mathieu, still plays for Montréal, and David is hoping he will get to line up against him when he visits a Stade Saputo stadium he has not been to in several years. “I talked to my parents earlier this week and they are super excited,” said Choinière. “They are lucky to have two sons who play professional soccer and they face each other. My parents told me they are going to bring a lot of friends and a lot of family to the game. It is just a special occasion for the family.”

On Wednesday, Forge face a Montréal side who are arguably the best in the country right now. Montréal went almost two full months without a loss in MLS action between mid-March and mid-May and are one of the league’s best offensive sides. Forge know they will be in tough, but have proven over the last few years that are capable of competing with anyone in the region. Their mentality going in will be the same as always. “We are going to go out there and try to win the game, we felt like we left a little bit out there,” said Henry. “We felt like we left a little bit out there on the field last year and hopefully we can get some redemption.” And should history repeat itself and the match go beyond 90 minutes, Henry won’t be caught off guard again. “I’ve been practicing penalties this year, so I will be ready.”

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