Forge FC will play in the CPL Final for the third consecutive season, having booked their ticket on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win at Tim Hortons Field over York United in the second of the weekend’s two semi-finals.
Entering the match, York coach Jimmy Brennan deployed the same 4-2-3-1 formation his side has preferred for most of this season, with Julian Ulbricht leading the line up top and Michael Petrasso sitting just behind as a number 10. Forge went with a similar shape, as Tristan Borges patrolled the middle in attack behind Woobens Pacius up top.
It was those two players who got Forge off the ground early in this game, as Borges found Pacius just nine minutes in with an excellent through ball into the box, and Pacius finished with a low left-footed strike off the far goalpost to make it 1-0.
After opening the scoring early on, Forge continued to press forward, with several chances within the first half hour coming extremely close. Thanks to some good last-ditch defending and work from York ‘keeper Nathan Ingham, though, the Nine Stripes managed to hang on and stay in the fight.
Not long before halftime, York found their equalizer; after a short cross came into the box and Forge couldn’t clear it well enough, Michael Petrasso — noticing goalkeeper Triston Henry was caught off his line — sent a chip over the top of all the traffic and found the net to send the contingent of travelling York supporters into an uproar.
The second half was a wide-open affair, with both teams moving quickly in transition to create a parade of attacking opportunities. Forge, though, found the breakthrough first. Omar Browne threaded a pass through a crowd of York defenders and a fortuitous deflection came into the path of Joshua Navarro, who had snuck in behind the centre-backs to find himself all alone in front of goal. He beat Ingham with a strong finish to make it 2-1 in the 66th minute.
The hosts added to their lead very shortly after, when a corner kick from Kyle Bekker found a mess of heads and ultimately trickled into the goal, with the final deflection coming off York midfielder Noah Verhoeven — though it was Navarro again who headed the ball into Verhoeven’s path.
Though York had a few good opportunities on the counter-attack in the final 20 minutes, the Forge defenders managed to stifle the visitors’ attempts to claw their way back into the game.
Having seen out the victory in professional fashion, Forge secured their trip to the 2021 Final — which they’ll host at Tim Hortons Field on December 5 against Pacific FC.
9′ — Woobens Pacius (Forge FC)
38′ — Michael Petrasso (York United)
66′ — Joshua Navarro (Forge FC)
73′ — Noah Verhoeven (OG) (Forge FC)
60′ — Yellow: Joshua Navarro (Forge FC)
61′ — Yellow: Noah Verhoeven (York United)
62′ — Yellow: Chrisnovic N’sa (York United)
62′ — Yellow: Tristan Borges (Forge FC)
76′ — Yellow: Dominick Zator (York United)
85′ — Yellow: Isaiah Johnston (York United)
88′ — Yellow: Diyaeddine Abzi (York United)
90′ — Yellow: Max Ferrari (York United)