York surrenders streak; makes way for more Pacific dominance

York surrenders streak; makes way for more Pacific dominance

Sunday afternoon’s clash between York United and Pacific FC was stuck in a deadlock for the longest time. Both sides exchanged chances until Pacific finally found a breakthrough coutesy of a Sean Young header.

Thus, York narrowly missed out on continuing their winning streak. Which is probably why Tass Mourdoukoutas was unhappy about the result. With excellence in recent weeks being so common, room for growth and learning just wouldn’t be accepted.

“It’s more frustrating than anything,” said the Australian defender, “a bit disheartening to concede so late after being very resilient against a good side. On set pieces I think, with the size we have on the field we can manage the game properly, giving away silly fouls near the end of the game allowed them to play to their strengths. I think we lost on that.”


Set-piece struggles, both offensively and defensively, were occurring with too much familiarity for York. Mo Babouli, coming back into the fold after not being available last week, missed three crucial free kicks. He kept getting closer to goal, culminating in a shot which required an incredible diving stop by Tridents’ goalkeeper Kieran Baskett. Either way, you just can’t keep giving him the ball. Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé deserved at least one go at goal, because he was often standing over the ball too.

In regards to Gagnon-Laparé, it was strange seeing him on corners. Lassana Faye returned to match minutes after being suspended on yellow card accumulation last week, and he typically will try to swing the ball in. However, Gagnon-Laparé and Babouli, on all set-pieces where they were going for a cross into the box bar one, they opted for outswingers. This could’ve been because Baskett’s six-foot-three frame (plus Amer Didic and Thomas Meilleur-Giguére also both being very tall) would’ve cleared the ball easily, however if York had less numbers up top and more staying back waiting for a volley there could’ve been something made of that. Pacific are great defensively, so there’s no right way to attack but going straight at goal more often would’ve created much better chances.

Throw in the fact that Young’s goal came on a set-piece really doesn’t help the situation.

“I thought we were solid today, I don’t think we created as much as I would’ve liked, but they’re a good defensive team,” coach Martin Nash stated, “it was a great defensive battle; neither team gave much away. It’s tough, it really hurts to give away a late goal, but last week we were on the other side of it, we got a winner late, but you know, it happens, but we’ve got to be able to see these games out, but I’m proud of the effort these guys put in, just not enough.”

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We should focus on some positives though, because York truly weren’t all that bad. They made Pacific work very hard, something that they aren’t accustomed too as they reach seven matches unbeaten.

First of all, York managed to hold onto the ball for 45% of the game, but really their offensive spurts felt like more. York played through Babouli and Max Ferrari most of the time. The right flank, composed of Ferrari and Clément Bayiha, generated quite a few good crosses, one of which Babouli hit a post on in the dying seconds of the first half. Babouli would join both wings at times and really wasn’t doing too much in the middle of the pack, more central area that he typically calls home. That duo teaming up to get a through-ball to Bayiha worked well.

Interestingly, Ferrari must have been given permission to roam. He was never a fullback until last year, and back then it was shaky, but now he seems to have mastered it while going the extra mile. Ferrari, who was one of York’s brightest lights in 2021 as a winger, would leave the backline for large stretches of play and link up with the midfield. He resisted running into Bayiha’s areas, giving the former CF Montréal man his space to dazzle. Bayiha went two-for-two on successful dribbles, according to SofaScore, exhibiting plenty of fancy moves you don’t usually see in the Canadian Premier League.

Back to Ferrari now. He quite possibly was the man responsible for York not conceding to Dutch wunderkind Ayman Sellouf. Going toe-to-toe many times, Sellouf humbled him early on with a meg and quick run. Ferrari, with the only time he was dribbled past in the contest behind him, responded by being virtually unbreakable at the back. He did very well in a variety of positions. He’s always been versatile, but it really showed on Sunday.

Max Ferrari hunts down Ayman Sellouf in one of their battles on Sunday [photo by Pacific FC – Sheldon Mack]

It also has to be mentioned that the rest of the team embodied Ferrari’s very aggressive approach to trying to win the ball. York had a very high line of Austin Ricci, Brian Wright, and Bayiha. Pacific did grow frustrated by this, and they were prone to turn over the ball in the midfield. This short fuse was a catalyst to many scuffles and outright violent instances between players. There really should’ve been two red cards – Babouli and Manny Aparicio – but somehow both squads didn’t go over the top. Even still, unnecessary late challenges became a familiar sight in the later stages of the contest.

You also simply must commend Giantsopoulos for his efforts. In a perfect world, your last line of defence doesn’t need to always be on watch. But York’s skipper is consistently the force that doesn’t let the opposition run away with a win (if anything). With five saves, two of which from inside the box, Giantsopoulos’ cat-like reflexes came in clutch. On Pacific’s lone goal, he couldn’t have done anything about it. The six-foot-two Young overpowered everyone and his header down was too fast.


York also probably should’ve got a goal based on the areas they occupied. Contrary to a lot of this season, the box where York was going for goal was packed. It could’ve been seen as a 3-5-2 formation in transition and far up the field, because Wright and Babouli would try to force themselves into the area. This is quite promising. It signfies that maybe Martin Nash is trying to get this team to pounce much quicker on counter-attacks, which they’ve been doing a lot of recently. It’s something that early in the season was doing them no good, with number nines dropping back. Now, they should have it covered down the middle. Babouli’s unfortunate post came down to inches, and every other day that goes in.

Pacific, meanwhile, are untouched at the top. Five points clear of York and Forge with a game in hand means they can’t be overtaken for at least two more matches, but with this well-oiled machine, it’d be hard to imagine that they’ll stop.

“I always like to live in the moment,” Baskett said of the mentality when you’re number one, “just take every day as it comes, every training session just work hard and not think of the past or the future. Just try and get better every day.”

If that happens, it’s very scary for the rest of the league. York returns home for a Wednesday’s aforementioned contest with the Halifax Wanderers. The last time York lost to Pacific then played Halifax this season, well, it went quite swimmingly for the blue and green.

Top photo by Pacific FC – Sheldon Mack

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