On Saturday night, Cavalry FC clinched the 2023 Canadian Premier League Shield. With Cavalry winning 1-0 against York United earlier on Saturday, and Pacific's 3-1 loss to Forge, no team can catch Cavalry at the top of the Canadian Premier League table. As a result, they earn a place in the 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup, their first continental competition, as well as hosting a 1st vs. 2nd playoff match that could send them directly to the 2023 Final (which they would also host). This is the second time in club history that Cavalry have been regular season winners, as they won both the spring and fall seasons in the league's inaugural 2019 campaign. It was truly a team effort from Tommy Wheeldon Jr.'s side this year, who embraced this title of 'new Cavalry', with new ideas on top of the principles that have made this club the most successful in CPL regular season history. Ahead are some of the key stats, players and moments that defined the Cavs title-winning season.
Five stats that were key to Cavalry winning the regular season titleScored first 21 times Cavalry FC scored the opening goal in 21 of their 26 matches so far this season, a big reason why they have a league-leading 14 wins. Just one loss at home Spruce Meadows has always been a fortress for Cavalry, and this year has been no different as they have lost just once in Calgary this season while picking up a league-leading 27 home points. 41 goals scored Cavalry have scored a league-leading 41 times this season, tied with Pacific FC. This is the most they have managed to score in a season since a stunning 51 tallies in their inaugural season. Two first-half goals allowed Cavalry have conceded just two first-half goals in their last 16 matches. They also lead the league in goals scored in the first half with 22, further evidence of how much they are able to start matches on the front foot. Outstanding in possession Cavalry FC on average lose possession just 123.6 times per match, which is the fewest among any club in the league this season. Not only are they one of the league's top possession teams, but rarely turn the ball over once they have control.
Five matches that defined Cavalry's run to the title
May 21 - Cavalry FC 2-0 Atlético Ottawa After a frustrating start to the 2023 season, in which they drew their first five matches, Cavalry finally picked up their first victory in late May with a 2-0 win over Atlético Ottawa courtesy of goals from Sergio Camargo and Daan Klomp.
July 9 - Pacific FC 1-2 Cavalry FCFor a lot of the season, it looked like Pacific FC were going to run away with the Canadian Premier League Shield. But perhaps an early sign that Cavalry FC were very much in the race came in July, when they ended a nine-match unbeaten streak for the Tridents with a 2-1 win at Starlight Stadium. Eryk Kobza and Fraser Aird were the goalscorers on that day.
August 4 - Cavalry FC 3-0 Forge FCIf there is one side in the CPL that has consistently been a thorn in Cavalry's side, it is Forge FC. The Hamilton side beat them in the league's inaugural final, and eliminated them from the playoffs last year as well. In early August, however, Cavalry picked up a statement result against their Ontario rivals, with a 3-0 victory courtesy of goals from Eryk Kobza, William Akio and Fraser Aird.
August 11 - Valour FC 3-2 Cavalry FCNot all of the biggest moments come from wins, and with Cavalry flying high after their win against Forge, they were quickly humbled by a second-half comeback loss against Valour. After William Akio found the back of the net on either side of half-time, the Winnipeg side scored three goals in the final 30 minutes. It was a lesson that Cavalry took in stride, however, as they are since undefeated in their past six matches, five of which have been wins.
September 2 - Atlético Ottawa 1-2 Cavalry FCTo start September, the penultimate month of the 2023 season, Cavalry were faced with the difficult task of playing three difficult road matches against playoff contenders Halifax Wanderers, Forge FC and Atlético Ottawa. That started in the nation's capital on September 2, a place where they had never won. A 97th-minute goal from William Akio changed that, however, and was another strong sign that Cavalry were on the road to something special.
Five players who played a crucial role in Cavalry's CPL Shield title
Goalkeeper - Marco Carducci One of the club's original signings, two-time CPL Goalkeeper of the Year Marco Carducci has been among the league's best once again this season. He has played every minute for the club this season, keeping seven clean sheets.
Defender - Daan KlompWhat was once a Defender of the Year-worthy campaign for Dan Klomp is quickly drifting into the Player of the Year conversation. He has been sensational both on the ball and without it, as one of the league leaders in successful passes (1,322, 3rd most in the league) while also making key defensive interventions. Klomp has also scored three goals and added an assist and is the only outfield player in the CPL to have played every minute this season.
Midfielder - Jesse DaleyThe young Australian has joined Cavalry and, in his first CPL season, embedded himself as a key member of the club's midfield. He leads the Cavs in assists (four - tied with Myer Bevan), interceptions (28) and tackles won (41).
Winger - Ali Musse Cavalry FC's biggest attacking differencemaker this season has undoubtedly been Ali Musse. He is among the league leaders in dribbles completed and chances created and has put up five goals and three assists this year.
Forward - Myer Bevan For the first time since their inaugural season, Cavalry have a player who has scored double-digit goals in a season as the New Zealander has now managed ten, as well as four assists. Five of those have come from the penalty spot, but having a player who can consistently finish off their attacking movements has been crucial this season.
Five stories from Cavalry's 2023 campaign
- The time is now for Cavalry to put an end to dark days under the brightest lights
- ‘We’ve only just started’: Loturi’s CanMNT call-up the latest Cavalry FC success story
- CPL Productions: Marco Carducci reaches 100 games with Cavalry FC
- ‘The pipeline is thriving’: Cavalry FC’s Goteh Ntignee joins French club FC Annecy in league-record move
- ‘I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future’: Cavalry’s Tom Field excited for second crack at CPL
Five best photos from Cavalry's 2023 season