Forge FC and young striker Woobens Pacius are on a roll.
Coming off a 1-0 victory over visiting HFX Wanderers FC last Saturday, Forge has won six straight in Canadian Premier League play while outscoring the opposition 17-3. Pacius accounted for seven of those goals, scoring in five games during the run, to up his season total to a league-leading 10 now that Pacific FC's Alejandro Diaz and his 13 goals have moved on to Norway's Sogndal Fotball.
"First and foremost he's a great young kid," said Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis. "He's a player who works really hard at his craft. And his craft is putting the ball in the back of the net."
The 21-year-old from Terrebonne, Que., earned CPL player of the month honours in July with six goals, including a highlight-reel strike July 23 in a 3-1 win over Valour FC. After a defender cleared the ball past him, Pacius — with his back to goal — pivoted at the edge of the penalty box to retrieve it and then, in one motion, turned and hammered a left-footed shot into the goal while the 'keeper stood rooted to the spot.
"When I was on the field I knew it was a nice goal, but when I looked at it on my phone it was better … "I think it's my prettiest," he said.
His second-minute goal, via a header off a corner, against HFX Wanderers last time out, is the quickest score in Forge history. And it made Pacius just the second Forge player to reach double-digit goals in a CPL season, following 2019 Golden Boot winner Tristan Borges.
"I'm really happy about my season right now. I'm really grateful to God for all the opportunities that he's given me," said Pacius, whose parents came from Haiti when they were young.
Pacius joined the CF Montreal academy at 14, leaving six years later to sign with Forge in August 2021. Since then, he has scored 19 goals and added three assists in 49 appearances for the Hamilton club in all competitions.
Smyrniotis says Pacius has shown he is able to finish from less-than-perfect positions.
"I think that's the mark of a very good striker and it's something he does well," the coach said.
"If you look at his development over this past year, I think his ceiling is very high … He had the privilege of working with some very good strikers in the past, as well before Forge, and I think, he's got all the qualities to be a top one" he added. "And most important is his mentality. He's a humble player. He's a humble guy who scores his goals. He's got a great smile on his face."
Six of his goals this season came from his right foot, three by his left and one from his head. He has converted two penalty kicks.
The six-foot-one Pacius hopes to catch the eye of Canada Soccer down the line with his play, although he is also eligible to represent Haiti. And while enjoying Forge and the CPL, his hope to climb the soccer ladder in the future, possibly in MLS or Europe.
Forge has no shortage of attacking options with newly signed former TFC forward Jordan Hamilton joining a strike force that already includes Pacius, Terran Campbell (six goals), Borges (five goals) and David Choiniere and Noah Jensen (three goals each).
Forge, CPL champions in 2019 and '20 and runner-up to Pacific FC in 2021, leads the league with 38 goals scored this season.
After a 1-2-2 start to the season, Forge has gone 10-2-0 in league play. The Hamilton-based club, which tops the standings at 11-4-2, hosts fourth-place Cavalry FC (9-6-4) on Friday looking to extend its winning streak.
In other play Saturday, it's Valour FC (7-6-5) at HFX Wanderers FC (5-10-3) and Atletico Ottawa (9-4-5) at Pacific FC (9-4-5). on Sunday, it's FC Edmonton (2-12-5) at York United FC (4-10-5).
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press