Forge FC secures fourth CPL Championship in thrilling home victory. Photo Credit: Facebook/Forge FC
Forge FC, Hamilton’s Canadian Premier League (CPL) soccer team, came from behind to win their fourth championship last weekend.
The match, which was played at Tim Hortons Field against Calgary’s Cavalry FC, went all the way to extra time after a 0-0 draw through 90 minutes before Forge FC went on to win 2-1.
The win marks the very first time in CPL history that a club has won the championship on their home pitch.
The first half was relatively uneventful, but in the second half Cavalry’s Ali Musse created a number of chances, including a shot fired high and a cross through the front of the goal that just missed the man coming in at the back post.
Forge subbed in Tristan Borges, the eventual hero, in the 68th minute and the team started to create a few more opportunities.
Then, in the 75th minute, Cavalry created a really strong chance with Musse crossing the ball in for William Akio which was then played to Jesse Daley who blasted the ball on goal.
However, Daley failed to get the ball past long-time Forge goalkeeper and Golden Glove winner Triston Henry who pulled off an incredible save.
Forge then ended up putting the ball into the back of the net before the end of the second half, but the referee called the goal off due to a foul in the buildup in what was a somewhat controversial call.
Since the match was tied at 0-0, both clubs geared up for 30 more minutes of play with the match going to extra time.
Cavalry’s Ali Musse opened the scoring in extra time in the 101st minute and it seemed as though Forge FC would be headed for defeat.
But, Forge’s Belgian international Beni Badibanga scored a stunning goal from outside the box to tie the game only seven minutes later.
The game then appeared as though it would go to penalty kicks.
But in the 111th minute Forge won a corner and Borges curled the ball directly into the net from the corner.
With their second stunning goal, Forge held the lead throughout the remaining minutes and claimed their fourth CPL Final victory in just five seasons.
Match attendance at Tim Horton’s Field was close to 14,000 strong.
Cavalry had finished first place in the league with 55 points (16 wins, 7 draws, and 5 losses), compared to Forge FC’s 42 points (11 wins, 9 draws, 8 losses), so the championship win was somewhat unexpected.
The fact that Forge managed to win after being behind made the win even more spectacular.
The CPL has seen considerable growth since its inaugural 2019 season, with the league adding expansion teams and match attendance steadily on the rise.
The 2023 season saw a record cumulative attendance of 429,915 during the 2023 season, a 19 per cent increase from the previous record set in 2022 of 360,832.
CPL Commissioner Mark Noonan says that the league is “proudly and unapologetically growing our own version of the beautiful game in these markets from coast to coast, developing an organic soccer culture that is by Canadians and for Canadians.”
Based in Hamilton, he reaches hundreds of thousands of people monthly on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. He has been published in The Hamilton Spectator, Stoney Creek News, and Bay Observer. He has also been a segment host with Cable 14 Hamilton. In 2017, he received the Chancellor Full Tuition Scholarship from the University of Ottawa (BA, 2022). He has also received the Governor General’s Academic Medal. He formerly worked in a non-partisan role on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.