TSS Rovers are back in the Canadian Championship and looking for another upset and some revenge

TSS Rovers are back in the Canadian Championship and looking for another upset and some revenge

Today is a year to the day of TSS Rovers’ huge Canadian Championship win over Canadian Premier League side Valour. Now, one year later, with the memories of that night still remaining strong in the minds of all TSS supporters, Canada Soccer announced that the club are heading back to the competition, setting up a revenge match against the team that eventually knocked them out last year, Pacific FC.

Victoria Highlanders had earned this year’s League1 BC berth in the competition with their last gasp come-from-behind win over TSS in the final match of the 2023 regular season, clinching the title in the most dramatic of circumstances. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be the end of the drama, with the Highlanders sadly announcing earlier this month that they would be ceasing operations of their men’s and women’s League1 BC teams, thus withdrawing from this year’s Canadian Championship.

As L1BC runners-up, TSS Rovers were expected to get that spot, giving them another chance to repeat last year’s heroics. It may have taken Canada Soccer nearly two weeks to finally make the decision, and less than two weeks before the match is to be played, but TSS will now face off against CPL side Pacific FC at Starlight Stadium in Langford on Wednesday May 1st.

TSS’ first match of the new League1 BC season was set to be a game at the Highlanders on Saturday April 27th. With that game now off the table, the Rovers have a bye week, meaning TSS’ first competitive match of the season will be that game with Pacific. A baptism of fire, not just for the players, but for new TSS head coach Brendan Teeling, who was promoted from assistant coach in the offseason and will take charge of the team for the first time in Langford.

“For me, it’s a massive game, a massive moment for me in my career as well,” Teeling told AFTN. “The boys are buzzing. Obviously not the circumstances we wanted with Highlanders dropping out. It’s just one of those things unfortunately. For them, it’s a negative. For us, it’s a positive. We get to go back into that competition and hopefully challenge Pacific and give them a test on their home turf.”

TSS’ Canadian Championship run last season captured the imaginations of football fans across Canada, becoming the first semi-pro side to knock out a professional club in the tournament’s history when they beat Valour 3-1 at Swangard Stadium.

They followed that up with a hard-fought, but ultimately losing effort, in a 2-0 quarter-final loss at Pacific.

TSS went toe-to-toe with the CPL side for most of the match, falling behind to a controversial penalty midway through the second half. A call which still rankles those involved and revenge is certainly on the minds of the Rovers players in their upcoming rematch.

“It’s very exciting for the group and we’ve been training now for a couple of weeks,” Rovers forward Matteo Polisi told us. “The group looks good, we’re connected, there’s good energy and we’re going into the game confident. We’re not going for an experience, we’re going there to win. This group, we’ve got experience now. We’ve tasted this tournament, so coming into this game, we can lean on that experience. We can lean on our mistakes, what went wrong in that game against Pacific last year.

“It was unfortunate to lose on a PK that was questionable, let’s just say, and this year we’ve learned our lesson. We can’t be making those mistakes later on in the game. If they’re going to beat us, let’s see them show their quality. Let’s see them score a 40-yard goal. Let’s see them break us down with some unbelievable play. We don’t want to just give them a soft goal. If they’re going to beat us, let’s see them beat us.”

Last year’s win over Valour was also the Rovers’ first competitive game of the year. This time they’ll be facing a Pacific side with three matches already under their belt, some established chemistry, and with a better level of match fitness than their League1 opponents. A tough task, but one which the Rovers players are relishing.

“Obviously I wish we could play more games before Pacific,” TSS defender Danylo Smychenko admits. “But to be honest, mentally, physically, I think we’re ready. The adrenalin will obviously be crazy, so I think we can pull it off. If we’ve done it once, we can do it again.”

Long-time Rover Connor MacMillan has no doubts that the team will be ready not just for the Pacific game, but what the bigger picture.

“We had an idea that we might be back in, so we’ve all been training with that in mind,” Rovers forward Connor MacMillan told AFTN. “So we’re pretty fit right now and we’ve been preparing in case that game was going to be on, so it’s not something that we had no idea about. Considering how last year went, we’re a little bit salty about how the penalty kick was given, so there’s a lot of revenge that we’re trying to look for here.

“We think we have a team that will have a really good game against them and our goal isn’t just to beat them, it’s to see how far we can go in the whole Canadian Championship. We’re pumped, and the best part is we have a lot of the guys we had last year, so that just makes it all that more exciting because we have that whole core that felt the same thing last year when we lost that game after beating Winnipeg.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Chris Corrigan at 12:56

    Absolutely buzzing.

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