Well, in the CPL Finals, Maxim Tissot sealed Forge FC’s North Star Shield triumph with a long-range free kick that fooled Oxnerin the 90th minuteas it bounced off his hands and the post before landing in the back of the net.
Oxner’s gaffe killed off any chance of a Wanderers comeback, but he looks back upon it as moment from which he can learn and grow as a player.
“If anyone was going to make an error in the final I’m glad it was me because, mentally, I can handle it and bounce back and use it as motivation to get even better,” Oxner told CanPL.ca. “It’s something that’s gonna haunt me for a bit, but I feel like it’s gonna haunt me in a good way and push me to get better.”
So, what exactly happened? How did Oxner manage to get beat by Tissot’s long-range effort? The 24-year-old native of Halifax explained his head was turned in the moment as he prepared to set up a counter-attack
“It’s just how it is sometimes in football – you have a sh–ty bounce in the wind. I was probably trying to think too far ahead of catching the ball and what I was gonna do with it next, instead of making this simple thing,” Oxner revealed.
Maxim Tissot makes it TWO for @ForgeFCHamilton in BIZARRE fashion, catching Christian Oxner with a mistake … but they all count the same! @ForgeFCHamilton, minutes away from their 2nd North Star Shield! ⭐️
The error led to Forge’s second goal and solidified a second-straight CPL Championship, but it hardly hampered The Ox’s run at The Island Games. Oxner finished in the top 90 per cent of CPL ‘keepers in claims (1.38) and saves (3.22) per 90 minutes, according to SportLogiq, who also highlighted his defensive action total as the most of any CPL goalkeeper. Oxner ended the Island Games with the most saves (22) and best save percentage (78 per cent) in just seven appearances. The CPL Finals were the only match in PEI that Oxner allowed more than one goal.
Oxner started his stay in PEI rather inauspiciously as he watches from the sidelines while recovering from injury. He described his return to the starting XI, in his team’s fourth match of the first round against FC Edmonton, as a turning point. HFX conceded just twice in Oxner’s four appearances to close out the first round.
“When you’re injured and come back you’re stepping into something that means something, even from the start of the tournament,” Oxner said. “There’s still some leeway if you lose the first one or two games, or you don’t pick up maximum points. When you come back from injury when I did, the third or fourth game, it’s already crunch time.”
The Wanderers were a much sturdier defensive outfit compared to last season, starting with centre backs Peter Schaale and Jems Greffard. The pair played in front of Oxner in matches, something he is quick to credit for his success.
“It’s wicked playing with those guys,” Oxner offered. “It’s good when you have a good connection with the guys off the field, too. I mean, me and Peter had a good connection last year. Jems is just one big kid, right? So it’s pretty fun to get along with.
“We were cracking jokes out on the pitch, too – you could tell we were having fun.”
A former standout with the Saint Mary’s University Huskies, Oxner is one of three HFX players up for CPL Awards in 2020 (Chrisnovic N’sa for best under-21 player and attacker Akeem Garcia for Player of the Year), all returnees from the 2019 season when the Wanderers finished bottom of the standings.
“A lot of the guys got talked about. It’s good when you win like that because a lot of people get recognition,” said Oxner, who suggested Andre Rampersad and youngster Jake Ruby didn’t get enough credit from media and fans.
“We had so much depth, it’s almost like there’s too many players to talk about.”
Oxner said more players are expected to spend the off-season in Halifax than 2019, but in the meantime, the top goalkeeper nominee has one eye on his Playstation. FIFA 21, the latest in EA Sports’ series of soccer titles, is set to be released next week.