Vancouver FC made it three in a row and claimed a second straight Salish Sea Derby win on Saturday Sept. 30, as they defeated rivals Pacific FC 2-1 at Starlight Stadium.
Vancouver opened the scoring in the 28th minute through Gabriel Bitar, before adding a second in the 35th minute after Bitar found Vasco Fry for the midfielder’s first goal with the club.
In the second half, Pacific’s Easton Ongaro nodded home a set-piece goal in the 53rd minute, but they then came up short in their late bid to at least earn a point, as Vancouver’s Callum Irving made several key stops against his former team, and was awarded Gatorade performance of the match.
“When you see our first half performance, how tactically sound we played, as well as how we created the openings, it was (great),” Vancouver’s head coach, Afshin Ghotbi, noted. “We kept the ball well, took our two goals well, and even in the second half, when were under a lot of pressure, we managed that pressure quite well.”
The fact Vancouver is out of the playoffs had been a positive in some ways, Irving noted.
“Today was always going to be a chance for us to show how far we’ve come from the first game to now,” Irving commented. “We’ve had a chance now, with no playoffs on the horizon, to show what we’re about, and what we’ve been working on for next year.”
“And we haven’t wavered (in our belief), we haven’t given up despite the fact that we easily could have, guys could have just started getting on each other, people could have just said that they don’t want to be here.”
“Yet, every day in training, guys are trying, and through that, we’ve now been able to show up on the second last day of the season, when we’re been mathematically out of the playoffs for a while, and put on a performance like this, and that just shows the character of the players and of our club as a whole, showing what we’re trying to build, and I couldn’t be prouder of the guys for that.”
Despite their loss, Pacific still remain in a good position, guaranteed to finish no lower than fourth, and can still finish in the top two and potentially host a final.
Vancouver FC will finish off their season at home, as they host York United at Langley’s Willoughby Community Park on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m.