Pacific FC defeats Halifax in CPL’s opening weekend

(Aaron Lynett/CP)

LANGFORD, B.C. — The drumming and singing never stopped Sunday afternoon as a sold-out crowd at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., welcomed the Canadian Premier League on its opening weekend.

Pacific FC defeated HFX Wanderers FC of Halifax 1-0 in a fast-moving contest that kicked off the start of a new era in professional soccer in Canada.

Pacific FC opened the scoring at the 23rd minute of the 1st half on a header by centre back Hendrik Starostzik off a corner kick.

Victoria fan Dave Buttree said watching professional soccer in his home town is a dream come true.

"This is great for Victoria and great for Canada," he said at halftime Sunday. "We need our own domestic league. I’ll come to as many games as I can.

Buttree said he has travelled to Europe to watch top matches, but is looking forward to backing his home side.

Westhills Stadium, whose stands are currently being expanded, was sold out at 5,000 spectators.

Pacific FC centre back Lukas McNaughton was ejected from the game in the second half after receiving two yellow cards.

League commissioner David Clanachan said he was pleased with the talent on the field and the support of the fans after attending Saturday’s opener in Hamilton and Sunday’s game at Langford.

York 9 FC and Hamilton’s Forge FC played to a 1-1 draw.

"Everybody’s been waiting for this," said Clanachan, at Westhills. "They are rooting for us, the home team."

He said the opening weekend set the tone for the style of play for the league, which is a focus on open, fast play with few delays.

"We’ve got a good flow in the game," said Clanachan. "We’ve talked to the players and we want a good standard of play. We don’t want this diving and rolling around."

Under league rules, teams must have a minimum of six domestic players and a maximum of five foreign players in their starting.

The seven CPL teams will each play 28 regular-season games, 14 home and 14 away.

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