A win in their final game of the season gave HFX Wanderers FC a handful of silver linings.
The Wanderers beat York9 FC 2-0 in front of 3,452 fans at York Lions Stadium in Toronto on Saturday to snap a 10-game winless streak and also gave them their very first win outside of Halifax. They were 0-4-1 away from home in the Canadian Premier League Spring Competition and 0-6-2 in the Fall Competition leading up to their season finale.
"It's good," Wanderers keeper Christian Oxner said to OneSoccer's Michael Leach after the game. "If you can send off a bad season, you send it off the way we did today, finally getting our first road win.
"I don't know whether to be happy or disappointed knowing that we could've done that all year. We could've been competing. But if there's one way we have to choose to send it off it's how we did today."
Juan Diego Gutierrez opened the scoring on a header in the 27th minute and Kodai Iida followed up with his first Canadian Premier League goal six minutes later. He pounded a left-foot strike into the top corner from about 20 yards out to snap his scoreless streak.
Oxner finished with his sixth clean sheet of the season, which ties him for fourth in the league. The former Saint Mary's Huskies star emerged as one of the team's bright spots down the stretch.
"It's kind of come at me pretty fast," Oxner said to Leach. "When I reflect I'll probably realize how crazy it was but this is what this league's for, for people like me. I was in Halifax and I never really had the opportunity to do this. ... I got one and I'm just trying to make the most of it."
The win gives the Wanderers a 3-7-8 record in the Fall Competition, which leaves them in last place. But that slate is a bit deceiving because they actually only lost one of their final nine games. They played to seven draws during that stretch, including a streak of six in a row.
The Wanderers were 6-12-10 overall in league play in their maiden season after a respectable 3-5-2 slate in the Spring session. They also advanced to the third round of the Canadian Championship and forged an immediate bond with their fans that will serve them well heading into their second season.
"It's a blessing to be one of the first people to do this and one of the first people to represent Halifax, the city I grew up in," Oxner said to Leach. "It means the world. I think we brought some real quality to the league this year - every team and every person that was involved. I think this league is going to keep growing and keep taking steps in the future. I think we have a good home here to play soccer in Canada."