The Wanderers are looking to make it a Canada Day to remember for the fans by securing third place in the CPL spring standings away at FC Edmonton.
Stephen Hart’s squad are travelling to Alberta in a confident frame of mind after a 2-0 win over Valour on Wednesday night at the Wanderers Grounds.
Mohamed Kourouma and Akeem Garcia both scored goals but it was the earlier spectacular saves of Halifax-born goalkeeper Christian Oxner many were talking about after the match, including his coach.
“I thought Christian was fantastic and he kept us in the game,” said Stephen Hart.
Oxner was more modest in analyzing his performance after his teammates named him man of the match.
“You just come out and try and look big and hope the ball hits you and that’s kind of what happened so I just throw myself in front of things and hope it goes well,” Oxner smiled.
The keeper — who always places his hand on his heart during the national anthem — said it was a good feeling to be marking this holiday as a professional player in a new Canadian league.
“It’s going to be cool playing on Canada Day and hopefully we can get the result to make it even better.”
However, in spite of Oxner’s heroics in goal, Hart and his players are not forgetting that once again the team did not get off to the best start.
Something they hope to turn around in Edmonton.
“We want to finish the right way in the spring season but we’re getting there,” said Mohamed Kourouma. “We are starting to play like we want to play and I think for the fall season we will be stronger.”
The game is a battle for third place with Edmonton also having recently hit their stride after a slow start.
Coached by Jeff Paulus, who used to be in the Canadian Navy and then gave adventure tours around Peggy’s Cove before his soccer coaching career took off, they’re a team Hart sees as dangerous.
“They have certainly found their rhythm and they will be difficult to play at home,” Hart said. “I think Jeff knows what he has and it was a matter of time before they started scoring.”
While the players wish they were at home for Canada Day with the Wanderers fans, Matthew Arnone said it will still be memorable celebrating together from aways.
“It’s a proud day for all Canadian players, I remember growing up watching the Blue Jays and them playing on Canada Day and that being an awesome thing,” the defender said. “The family would get together and we would have barbecues and now the fact I can be part of that as an athlete is something truly special.”
The Wanderers Canada Day match in Edmonton is at 4:30 p.m. AST on Monday.