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Forge FC, Atletico Ottawa record convincing wins in Canadian Championship play

Atletico Ottawa Atletico Ottawa - The Canadian Press

Forge FC and Atletico Ottawa, the top two teams in the Canadian Premier League, posted convincing victories in Canadian Championship preliminary-round play Wednesday.

Forge, which tops the CPL standings at 3-0-0, dispatched York United FC 3-1 in a game that was decided in the first half, while Atletico Ottawa, second at 2-0-1, hammered struggling Valour FC 7-0 to set a tournament scoring record.

Forge led 3-0 at the break and went to the bench in the second half at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont.

The goals came fast and furious at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa, where the home side led 4-0 at the break. Ottawa scored a pair one minute apart in the second half and then recorded three more in the space of six minutes in the second half.

Pacific PC got a Reon Moore goal eight minutes into stoppage time to tie TSS Rovers 1-1, then won 5-4 on penalties to complete the last-minute comeback in Wednesday's late match. Michael Hennessy had given the TSS Rovers a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute.

The TSS Rovers, based in Richmond, B.C., joined the field last month to replace the now-defunct League1 B.C. champion Victoria Highlanders.

Forge moves on to meet 2023 runner-up CF Montreal in the two-legged quarterfinal, while Ottawa takes on Pacific FC.

In play last week, Cavalry FC edged Vancouver FC 1-0 and Toronto FC recorded an easy 5-0 win over League1 Ontario champion Simcoe County Rovers. Cavalry FC faces the defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps in the quarterfinals.

Vancouver and Montreal both received first-round byes in the 14-team tournament,

The preliminary round wraps up Thursday when Halifax Wanderers FC hosts Ligue1 Quebec champion CS Saint-Laurent. The winner advances to face Toronto FC.

Forge has unfinished business with Montreal, which has ended its Voyageurs Cup run the last three years. The four-time CPL champions lost via an 8-2 penalty shootout in the 2021 semifinal, 3-0 in the 2022 quarterfinal and 2-0 in the 2023 semifinal.

Jordan Hamilton led the way Wednesday with a pair of goals for Forge. David Choiniere also had a goal for Forge, which defeated York 3-0 in the Toronto club's home opener on April 21.

Forge went ahead in the eighth minute when York lost a pair of battles for the ball in its own half. Playmaker Tristan Borges, named the CPL player of the month earlier in the day, sent a cross into the York penalty box that Hamilton headed in.

The goal came in the first start of the season for Hamilton, a former TFC striker.

Borges, who won the CPL’s Golden Boot, Player of the Year and Best Canadian U-21 Player awards in the league's inaugural 2019 season, has been in fine form so far this year with two goals and three assists in Forge's first three league games.

Choiniere capped a stylish attack in the 17th minute, roofing his shot in off the crossbar after a feed from Borges, with Hamilton and Beni Badibanga both involved in a stylish buildup.

York manager Martin Nash was cautioned in the 29th minute as things continued to go south for the visitors. The unrest on the York bench continued and goalkeeper coach Camilo Benzi was shown a red card a minute later.

Hamilton added to the lead in the 39th minute with Borges again involved in the play. Borges hammered a shot from distance off the goalpost and the ball came back to Hamilton, who knocked it home.

Josue Martinez pulled one back for York in the 87th minute, knocking the ball home after Brian Wright's header hit the crossbar.

Atletico Ottawa 7 Valour FC 0

Spanish veteran Alberto Zapater, star playmaker Ollie Bassett and Ruben Del Campo each scored twice as Atletico Ottawa made short work of struggling Valour.

Ballou Tabla also scored for Ottawa.

It was yet another loss for Valour, which is 0-3-0 in league play. And it could get worse with the Winnipeg side playing the first eight games of the campaign on the road.

Ottawa went ahead in the 14th minute when Valour defender Abdoulaye Samake was called for bodying Matteo De Brienne to the ground in the penalty box. It was perhaps a harsh call given both players were looking to head the ball after it came back into the penalty box off the crossbar.

Bassett made no mistake from the penalty spot. Samake had to leave the game as a result of the collision.

An unmarked Zapater made it 2-0 with a header off a corner in the 30th minute, and Del Campo beat goalkeeper Darlington Murasiranwa with a low shot a minute later on a rapid-fire attack.

Zapater piled on the pain in the 37th minute off another corner, which saw the ball headed back to the 38-year-old Spaniard from the far post. Zapater, with the Valour defence in disarray, had a simple header for his brace.

Ottawa kept scoring in the second half with goals from Tabla in the 63rd, Bassett in the 64th and Del Campo in the 69th.

The seven-goal outburst erased the tournament scoring record of six goals (Toronto defeated Montreal 6-1 in 2009, and Montreal blanked Toronto 6-0 in 2013).

Pacific FC 1 TSS Rovers 1

(Pacific FC wins 5-4 on penalties)

The stats sheet suggested Pacific F-C dominated, but it took a goal by Reon Moore eight minutes into stoppage time to prevent a huge upset.

Michael Hennessy gave the Rovers a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute, before Moore's last-minute heroics.

Pacific FC outshot the Rovers 20-2 (6-1 on target) and had possession 68 per cent of the time. Both teams had two yellow cards, while the Rovers had 12 fouls compared to Pacific FC's seven.

Josh Heard, Cedric Toussaint, Kunie Dada-Luke, Andrei Ticoveanu and Steffen Yeates scored penalties for Pacific FC, while Ali Zohar, Nikolas White, Hennessy and Matteo Polisi scored for the Rovers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2024.