MENU
Wanderers’ Oxner reminds NSSL players ‘people are watching’ in finals preview

When Western Halifax won the Nova Scotia Soccer League Finals last year, Stephen Hart was watching from the sidelines and Christian Oxner was in goal.

Fast forward to this year and Oxner is becoming a star of the new Canadian Premier League for his hometown club the Wanderers, who are coached by Hart.

The Halifax-born keeper is hoping other up-and-comers follow in his footsteps now there is a pathway to pro soccer in Canada.

“It shows the opportunity is there,” Oxner said. “You have to go out and play a strong game and leave everything on the pitch because people are watching. I knew Stephen was when I played.”

The goalkeeper — whose terrific penalty save against Cavalry this past weekend has been shared all over social media — led his team to victory in the last three NSSL Finals.

Christian Oxner, saving a penalty kick against Cavalry at the Wanderers Grounds Saturday, August 10th. Photo: Trevor MacMillan.
Christian Oxner, saving a penalty kick against Cavalry at the Wanderers Grounds Saturday, August 10th. Photo: Trevor MacMillan.

While he recalls hundreds of fans lining the pitch, those matches were all played at Mainland Commons, so this year the change of venue is extra special.

For the first time, the Championship games for men and women, will be played at the iconic Wanderers Grounds.

“I know when we step on the field and play on a surface as nice as that it’s extra motivation itself,” Oxner said. “As a player you get lost in that moment because you never know how many chances you have to experience it.”

The switch to bring top level amateur soccer to the downtown Wanderers home stadium is a result of the unique partnership the club have with Soccer Nova Scotia.

With the Wanderers not playing at home again this month, it’s the last chance for fans to take in the beautiful game at the Wanderers Grounds in August.

Coming this Saturday, August 17th the top men and women’s NSSL teams will compete in a double header with the women kicking off at 3 p.m. and the men at 5:30 p.m.

“I’ve been to the mens and women’s finals the past two years and the standard is usually of a very good quality,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart. “They’re often evenly balanced games that lay in the hands of one or two individuals doing something special.”

Stephen Hart, shown at a sold out Wanderers Grounds crowd vs Cavalry, says fans attending NSSL Championship games can expect matches of 'good quality.' Photo: Trevor MacMillan.
Stephen Hart, shown at a sold out Wanderers Grounds crowd vs Cavalry, says fans attending NSSL Championship games can expect matches of ‘very good quality.’ Photo: Trevor MacMillan.

Having watched Oxner make the transition to the professional game, Hart would not be surprised to see others emulate him with the level of competition in Nova Scotia.

“Of course we are always looking for players that have that potential, so it gives us a chance to keep and eye on them and it’s important,” he said.

General admission tickets are for sale for the NSSL Finals, August 17th priced at $15 for adults, with youth tickets (12 and under) for $10 at the following link. 

https://www.tickethalifax.com/events/97411848/nssl-finals

We will know the teams who will be competing for trophies after Thursday night’s semi-finals at Mainland Commons.

The semi-final line up for Thursday, August 15th is as follows:

WOMEN –  6:30 Mainland #2  HALIFAX DUNBRACK vs HIGHLAND FC

                   8:30 Mainland #2 UDFC vs VALLEY UNITED

MEN     – 6:30 Mainland #1   UDFC vs VALLEY UNITED

                  8:30 Mainland #1   WESTERN HALIFAX vs HALIFAX CITY

Show up to Mainland on Thursday to see some quality soccer and very possibly a sighting of Christian Oxner himself!

Come on you Wanderers!