Final Score: Cavalry FC 1-1 (3-5 on PKs) Vancouver Whitecaps FC Goalscorers: Bevan 72'; Klomp (OG) 85' 2022 Canadian Championship Quarterfinal
Match in a minute or lessThe Vancouver Whitecaps advanced to the semifinals of the Canadian Championship for the first time since 2018 on Wednesday night, beating Cavalry FC on penalties after it was 1-1 after the 90 minutes. After 70 minutes without the game's opening goal, Myer Bevan fired Cavalry into the lead, smashing a shot into the top right corner from distance, sending the fans at ATCO Field into a frenzy. The Whitecaps didn't let that faze them, and equalized just over ten minutes later with a header from Érik Godoy redirecting off Daan Klomp and into the back of the net to make it 1-1. With no extra time in the Canadian Championship, the game went straight to penalties, where the visitors would emerge victorious. After the first seven shooters scored, Ali Musse missed his penalty in the fourth round, giving Cristián Gutiérrez the chance to win the game -- an opportunity he took advantage of.
Whitecaps cool under pressure to find equaliser and win in the shootoutThe Whitecaps have had a difficult start to the 2022 season, and as head coach Vanni Sartini said to reporters after Wednesday's match, may have had a different reaction to going down 1-0 not too long ago. The players are starting to get the desired mindset -- where they believe that they have the ability to win any game, or battle back from adversity to try and get a result. Vancouver dominated the first half of the match, and if not for some strong defending from the Cavalry backline -- particularly some big saves from Marco Carducci -- should probably have been up by a couple of goals before the break. They didn't score, however, and against the run of play conceded a wondergoal to Cavalry's in-form striker (and former Whitecap) Myer Bevan. The Whitecaps, who had been on the front foot for most of the game, continued to do what they had been doing all night -- running at the Cavalry backline and piling on the pressure. It seemed like a goal was soon to come if they just keep pushing, and in the 85th minute tied it up at 1-1. From a Déiber Caicedo corner, Whitecaps defender Érik Godoy got his head on the ball, before it struck Daan Klomp and beat Carducci. That gave Vancouver even more life, and scoring a late winner certainly wasn't out of the realm of possibility, but Cavalry were in survival mode and were able to force a penalty shootout. The Whitecaps went five-for-five on spot kicks, with Lucas Cavallini, Caicedo, Cristian Dájome, Leonard Owusu and Cristián Gutiérrez all scoring. "The guys now have a sense of belief, it's by the fact that they're playing better, but there's a sense that we can do a better job and the guys are really helping each other," Sartini said after the match. "The guys that came on were ready to give one hundred percent, so I'm happy and it makes me confidence for the future, both in MLS and in the cup. "In a game like today, where we played well in the first half and then conceded a goal and undeservedly go down... if it would have happened a month ago when the team wasn't in a good place mentally, we wouldn't have the strength to get back in time. We showed everyone in the last 5-6 games that we never give up, there's much more trust in what we do and the players see that even when things are not going well, we can get back." Sartini also had a lot of praise for his team's opponents. "We didn't create any problems for Cavalry until they created a problem for us, scoring that fantastic goal," Sartini said. "It woke us up and we had chances again. We scored and in the end in the penalties it could go one way or the other. "In the grand scheme of things we had more chances to score and probably deserved to win, but Cavalry put up a fantastic fight and at the end if they would've won, they would've deserved it."
Penalties are something you can practice, but sometimes that still isn't enoughAfter the match both head coaches said that they had their players practice penalties in the days leading up to this match, as is standard procedure for most teams ahead of a match like this. With a very competitive match on the cards, and there being no extra time in the Canadian Championship, penalties were always a real possibility. Vanni Sartini even said postgame that his squad practiced walking from the centre circle all the way up to the penalty spot, before taking their shot and walking back, to simulate a real game scenario as much as possible. There aren't any fans, or any legitimate stakes, during a shootout at a training session, however, so it's impossible to truly master it without an abundance of in-game experience. Whitecaps goalkeeper Cody Cropper, however, wasn't with the team for training yesterday. He was activated off the MLS health and safety protocol list on Wednesday morning, but Bevan's miracle goal aside looked sharp in his return to the pitch, and saved Cavalry's fourth penalty taken by Ali Musse, to give his side an opportunity to win. "He probably practiced by himself in the mirror at home," Sartini joked. "I only joined the team this morning, so unfortunately I was not able to practice the penalties, but we practiced before the Valour game," Cropper explained after the match. "Practice makes perfect right now, and that was a huge benefit for us. I have to give credit to the backroom staff for doing their homework on the penalties, statistically speaking guys go to certain sides and in this case we did our homework... fortunately for the fourth one it went our way." Unfortunately for Cavalry, who also practiced penalties in the leadup, they didn't have the same success from the spot. Bevan, Jose Escalante and Elliot Simmons all took their penalties, but Musse's was saved and Carducci was unable to keep any of Vancouver's shots out of the back of the net. "You can practice as much as you can... we had a system and a structure and we asked the boys to commit to it and they did," said Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. after the match. "The keeper guessed the right way and got a good hand to it, and that's a wrap." It was the second penalty shootout of the quarterfinals, as York United also advanced to the semifinals from 12 yards out, beating Pacific FC in Langford on Tuesday night.
Cavalry proud of their performance, turn attention back to the CPLDespite the heartbreaking way that it ended, there were a lot of positive for Cavalry to take from this match. They once again went head-to-head with an MLS team with a much bigger budget than them, and were able to hold one of the Canadian national team's best attackers off the scoresheet in Lucas Cavallini. Before the late equaliser they were minutes away from finding a way to win a match despite not dominating it -- an important quality for any team with the championship aspirations that they have this season. Closing out the game would have been another "cupset" for the Whitecaps at the hands of a Canadian Premier League opponent, but Cavalry were beaten by a team that was expected to win, and a team that were simply better than them for a lot of the match. They gave themselves a good platform to build on in future matches, as they turn their attention back to the CPL season. With 21 games left in the regular season, starting with a trip to face York United on Sunday, their resilience and efforts could translate well for them for the remainder of the competition. Cavalry currently sit in second in the CPL on eleven points, ahead of Atletico Ottawa on goal difference and six points back of Pacific FC. "It was a hard-fought game," said Cavalry defender Mason Trafford. "It's tough to go out on penalties like that, but I'm really proud of the boys' performance, and I thought we had it after that beautiful goal that Myer Bevan scored, I thought we were going through 1-0. It's obviously disappointing to concede on a corner kick, but we played a good team with some quality players out there and we gave it as good as we've got. "It comes down to those fine margins, unfortunately it wasn't our day today. That's disappointing, but congratulations to them. We'll build off this. We just went toe-to-toe with an MLS team and we'll go back to the league now even more hungry to succeed."
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Cristián Gutiérrez, Vancouver WhitecapsGutiérrez put in a great all-around performance from left back, leading his team in tackles and chances created, and scored the winning penalty in the shootout.
What’s next?With the victory on Wednesday night, Vancouver will host York United in the Canadian Championship semifinals. Cavalry are back in CPL action on Sunday, also against York United, as they travel to Ontario for a weekend clash. Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and on Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to ask for OneSoccer today.