2023 CPL Regular Season — Match #26 Pacific FC vs. Halifax Wanderers May 27, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. PT/11:00 pm AT Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca & TELUS Ch. 980 // Tickets available here

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For the first time in 2023, the two CPL sides that are the furthest away from each other geographically will play each other, as the Halifax Wanderers travel to Vancouver Island to take on Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium on Saturday. A 'coastal clash', as this matchup has been dubbed, geographical distance isn't the only thing separating these two teams right now, either - Pacific enters this game second in the CPL table after a recent surge, while the Wanderers are currently holding down the eight and final spot after a slow start. As a result, this game is more than just a chance for these teams to renew acquaintances, but a chance to either maintain their fortunes, or reverse them - depending on one's perspective. For Pacific, they're looking to put a busy week behind them, as they're also fresh off playing the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship semi-finals on Wednesday. A frustrating match given that they ended up being eliminated 3-0 by the Whitecaps in a second-ever Ferryside Derby, it has also left little time for Pacific to prepare for this match, with just two days between that game and this one. Because of that, they'll be eager to turn to their depth to help them grab all three points, as they saw some important regulars play heavy minutes in that Whitecaps game. The good news? That should be no issue for Pacific. Given that they've been rotating their squad all season long, using a squad they specifically built to handle the realities of playing in multiple competitions, a game like this is one where they'll really hope for that depth to bear fruit. "Two days is a quick turnaround, but honestly, we feel it's the maybe the best thing for us," Pacific's head coach, James Merriman explained. "The best thing for us right now is to move on, to move forward. We debriefed yesterday, Wednesday is gone, and now we're preparing for Halifax, so it's all about shifting our mentality and channelling our frustration toward this game." As for the Wanderers, they're looking for any sort of momentum to cling onto. It's not been a bad start, per se, as they've only lost once in their first six games, but they're yet to win, having drawn five of their first six matches before dropping their first game this past weekend. Therefore, not only are they searching for their first win, they head into this game with that defeat in the back of their minds, as they dropped a frustrating match 3-0 to York United at home last weekend. All of a sudden, that's turned down the optimism levels in Halifax, showing how important a game like this will be for them, as they'll need to find a way to turn it into a win. It won't be easy, but given that they've picked up points in the four road games they've played so far, they've got that form to tap into, as they chase a first win under head coach Patrice Gheisar since his arrival this offseason. "That was a bad day, Saturday (against York) was a really, really tough day for all of us," Gheisar said this week. "So we had a meeting, we spoke about it and the team is focused on going forward." "In our team's culture, if there's a problem, we want to talk about it, so we identified that we lost to a team that wanted it more than us, and you can't make excuses about that, you can't put it any other way."

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  • Pacific aiming to capitalize on Wanderers defensive woes: Through six games, one thing is for sure about Halifax - they're fun to watch, and play an exciting brand of soccer. That's been clear by the eye test, but also through the numbers, as they're fourth in the league in Expected Goals (xG) for, fourth for touches in the penalty box, second in passes completed and first in progressive passes. Yet, while they've played some free-flowing soccer, that has often come with a risk - they can sometimes be left open a bit defensively. For the most part, they've avoided trouble from that, but their 3-0 loss to York showed what can happen when teams exploit that space. That's been a rare occurrence, as they only allowed five goals in the other five games they played, but those same worries were there, so a result like that of the York game will only lead to more teams trying to put Halifax under pressure. Pacific should be no exception, either, given their status as the team that leads the league in goals (11), xG (10.52), shots (87) and touches in the penalty area (139). Plus, as a versatile attacking team, with different profiles across their frontline, they should be able to find a way to exploit the Wanderers' defence. In particular, players like Adonijah Reid, Josh Heard and Aymen Sellouf could be assets given their speed and ability to play between lines, and given that all but Heard played less than 60 minutes in midweek, they could all be options to start in this game. Along with Pacific's midfield, who will look to supply service to their attackers, they'll look to continue their strong offensive form, especially after they were shut out against the Whitecaps.
  • Return of Callegari a big boost for Wanderers: As mentioned earlier, the Wanderers enter this game reeling a bit, as they're fresh off a defensive performance to forget against York. A big reason for that, however? The absence of midfielder Lorenzo Callegari, who served a suspension for yellow card accumulation after playing every minute for Halifax this year. He's back this week, though, and that's good news for Halifax, as they sorely missed his skills on both sides of the ball as a defensive midfielder against York. They'll need that in this game, too, as Pacific's midfield group has been among the best in the league so far this year, especially on the ball. Callegari's qualities on the ball are evident, and he'll help Halifax keep control of the game in possession, but his defensive game will be just as important, as his side tries to slow down the likes of Sean Young, Manny Aparicio and Steffan Yeates. No easy task, but certainly one that they'd prefer to face with Callegari in the team, as last week showed. "When Lorenzo puts on our kit, everyone feels more confident, because he's been an important player for our team," Gheisar said of Callegari's return.
  • Might Baskett, Lamothe see action against former side? Anytime a player plays their old team, it's always a big boost of motivation. Either a chance to show a side what they're missing out on if one left amicably, or a chance to prove something if the split wasn't so kind, usually there's a bit of extra motivation for a player to face their old side. Which for two Pacific players, will be something they'll experience for the first time, as Kieran Baskett and Pierre Lamothe will be taking on Halifax for the first time since they departed the club this offseason. Plus, fittingly, both players have found their feet lately with their new clubs after slow starts. For Lamothe, he's finally healthy after a preseason injury, as he made his club debut last weekend before also featuring in midweek, while Baskett has pushed Emil Gazdov enough to start two of Pacific's last four games in all competitions (and is fresh given Gazdov played against the Whitecaps). Plus, with Baskett being a Halifax native, it'll be added incentive to play his old club, making it exciting to see what's in store for him in this game (although a return to Halifax in July might be even sweeter). "It's important for them," Merriman admitted. "It's always important and nice for players to play against their old clubs." For what it's worth, however, Pacific aren't the only ones with local connections - Halifax's Jake Ruby, Cristian Campagna and Tiago Coimbra are BC natives, so they'll likely have some family on hand for this game, while Théo Collomb spent last year with the Vancouver Whitecaps second team, too. It's not the same as playing an old club, of course, but it can boost one's motivation, which for a clash like this, will only add to the occasion.


Pacific FC (4-3-3): Baskett; Dada-Luke, Đidić, Meilleur-Giguère, Vliet; Lamothe, Young, Yeates; Sellouf, Ongaro, Heard

Halifax Wanderers (4-3-3): Fillion; Campagna, Nimick, Loughrey, Ferrazzo; Rampersad, Callegari, Daniels; Fernandez, Collomb, Ferrin


HFX Wanderers wins: 4 || Pacific wins: 6 || Draws: 4

Last meeting:

September 27, 2022 — HFX Wanderers 0-2 Pacific


“For sure, 100%, we were frustrated with the result, we were frustrated with our performance, so we had hard and good conversations about it. Importantly, in league play we feel that we've been very good, so we need to shift our focus, and I think a quick turnaround is important, and it's exactly what the group wants, it's exactly what we need, and we want to show a reaction and a response to Wednesday night.” — Pacific FC head coach James Merriman

“I just thought York had the desire to put in more work than we did, and that led to that really poor result. And we're going to come in here with the exact same thought process as York had for us. We have a lot of goals as a team, and one of our goals is not to lose two games in a row. So we're gonna come out, and sure, we're going to play our pretty football, and we want to score a lot of goals and not give up goals, but most importantly, our challenge to the group is to come in and put in the work as a team” — Halifax Wanderers head coach Patrice Gheisar.

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