Forge FC win “match for the ages” over Cavalry FC to secure fourth CPL championship

Forge FC win “match for the ages” over Cavalry FC to secure fourth CPL championship

(Photo Credit: @ForgeFCHamilton/

In what was indisputably the Canadian Premier League’s most exciting final in its five-year history, Forge FC overcame Cavalry FC 2-1 on Oct. 28 at Tim Hortons Field.

Tristan Borges’ Olimpico in extra-time sealed Forge’s fourth championship, capping off an outrageous conclusion to what was, for the first 70 or so minutes, an otherwise cagey affair.

The game’s other two goals also came during an explosive half-hour of extra time that followed a goalless draw between two teams that have almost always been neck-and-neck when facing each other.

All three goals were, without a doubt, fantastic, solidifying the CPL’s unofficial mantra of producing “bangers only.”

From the off, the stage was set for a historic battle on Saturday, as both teams had history to play for. Forge was vying to become the CPL’s first club to win the championship on home turf, while Cavalry was looking to become the first team to secure the “Double”, after taking home the league’s regular-season title three weeks ago.

But apart from a stunning palm save from Forge ‘keeper Triston Henry in the 75th minute off a shot from Jesse Daley to keep the game scoreless, there were few highlights to write about during regulation time.

The real excitement began shortly after the teams returned to the pitch for extra time.

Following a period of offensive pressure, Ali Musse opened the scoring for Cavalry in the 101st minute, curling a left-footed shot into Henry’s bottom far corner from outside the box.

On the lead-up to that strike, Myer Bevan did well to get behind Forge’s back line following a through-ball. Despite falling to the ground, the striker was able to poke the ball back to Daley. He laid it off for an incoming Musse, who wrapped the ball expertly past an outstretched Triston Henry to break the deadlock.

Cavalry’s players’ frenzied celebrations after Musse’s goal showed they thought they’d finally done enough to secure the team’s first playoff championship, and bury the ghosts of previous failed playoff attempts.

But Forge quickly proved why they have been the CPL’s playoff kings throughout the league’s history, equalizing a few minutes later with an audacious curler from Beni Badibanga.

Receiving a short corner kick, Forge’s recent signing wrapped an inch-perfect 30-yard shot into the far top corner of Cavalry’s net. the ball soaring just beyond the fingertips of a flailing Marco Carducci.

Tied 1-1 with 10 minutes to go, the match seemed destined to go to penalty kicks – for the first time in CPL final history.

But Borges, who had been subbed into the game late, had other ideas.

In the 111th minute, Borges trotted over to take a corner kick in front of the Barton Street Battalion.

Looking up, Borges must have seen something no one else did, because he whipped an in-swinging ball expertly toward Cavalry’s goal. Similar to Badibanga’s strike minutes earlier, the ball sailed over Carducci before nestling into Cavalry’s net at the back post.

It was an almost perfect re-creation of Borges’ previous Olimpico, scored for Forge back in July 2019.

Asked after the match if he meant it, Borges replied “of course,” of the corner-kick strike that broke Cavalry hearts.

“The number-one thing was just to try to put it on goal,” he told OneSoccer afterward. “That was our goal and obviously it worked.

“Obviously we had little set pieces to run through but in a moment like that, I think it’s just about getting it on goal and seeing what happens.”

Behind him, the Barton Street Battalion cheered the spectacular highlight-reel goal deliriously. Borges basked in the applause, his arms outstretched and a grin plastered across his face.

“They really deserved it,” Borges said, of the fans finally getting to watch Forge lift the North Star Cup on their home turf. “Obviously, we know what happened the last time we played at home in a final. We know it wasn’t what they deserved [losing in 2021], and it was just about putting on a performance today.

“Honestly, I’m just speechless – these fans deserved a win at home in the final and that’s what they got.”

The last few minutes were frenetic, as Cavalry threw all caution to the wind. The visitors sent ball after ball into Forge’s box in a desperate attempt to force penalties.

But Forge’s defenders closed up shop, keeping Cavalry’s attacks at bay to secure the title.

Cavalry head coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. said he was “gobsmacked” after the match, referencing the two goal-of-the-season contenders that sank Cavalry’s dreams of ending what he could only describe as a “finals curse.”

“Usually, I’m a man of a lot of words, but I’m speechless right now,” Wheeldon Jr. told One Soccer’s Kristian Jack moments after the match.

“I thought we were brilliant, I thought we deserved to win with the chances, with the way we’ve controlled it. And they’ve undone us with two goal of the season contenders.

“How does that happen twice?”

While he seemed in fairly positive spirits considering the nature of the defeat, Wheeldon Jr. said he was gutted for his players, commending their performance and overall fight.

“They’re devastated because they implemented a great game plan,” he said. “We created the chances and weathered the little bit of storm that they’d bring to us. We didn’t give them much.

“And then for them to hit two in the top corner… I’m absolutely gobsmacked, to be honest.”

Cavalry were arguably the better side throughout the 120 minutes, leading 21-17 in shots, holding 57 per cent of possession, and pumping 25 crosses into Forge’s box, compared to 17 from the hosts.

But just like the CPL’s inaugural final in 2019, the Cavs were unable to get the better of the Hamiltonians, who continue their playoff dynasty and hoist yet another trophy.

Forge’s head coach Bobby dubbed it a “match for the ages.” Echoing Borges’, he told OneSoccer it was incredible to finally lift a CPL trophy on the team’s home turf after winning their first three (2019, 2020, and 2022) on the road.

“It’s fantastic – look at this atmosphere,” he told OneSoccer in a pitch-side interview amid the players’ celebrations.

“It’s incredible. This club, this city, these fans, these players – they’re phenomenal. They’ve gone through their ups and downs this year, we’ve challenged them, and here we are again.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.