HAMILTON, Bermuda â€” Veteran defender Adam Straith was one of many Canadians to experience a first on Sunday.
Jay Chapman’s debut goal in the final 15 minutes spared Canada’s men’s soccer team some embarrassment as they earned a 4-2 victory over No. 186 Bermuda in a wild international friendly.
The game was turned on its head in the 55th minute when No. 120 Canada conceded a shocking equalizer, saw its substitute goalkeeper injured and after having only two goalkeepers on the roster, had to turn to Straith to step in for the final 35 minutes.
“I had never even worn ‘keeper gloves. That was the first time,” said Straith, who didn’t have too much to do but did make a few rather unorthodox saves to preserve his team’s victory.
“I think you could probably see that with my attempt at a punch (save).”
Jonathan Osorio, Tosaint Ricketts, and Anthony Jackson-Hamel also scored for Canada. Osorio and Jackson-Hamel’s goals were their first international goal and Ricketts’ was his 15th.
Bermuda’s goals came from Oliver Harvey and Lejaun Simmons.
Five players made their international debuts as Canada fielded a less-than-full-strength roster with the January camp not falling in a FIFA international window. Osorio, Jackson-Hamel and Chapman’s goals were all their first for Canada.
“I’m happy to make my debut and to get a goal is something that I’m very proud of,” said Chapman, who will jump right into pre-season with Toronto FC. “I don’t think I’ve ever scored for my country â€” maybe once or twice for the U-17s but anytime I can score it’s a big moment for me.”
The game concluded Canada’s first camp of 2017 with all players either about to start their respective pre-seasons with North American clubs or who are looking to finalize deals with new clubs as training camps are right around the corner.
“It was an adventure. It had everything,” said interim head coach Michael Findlay of the bizarre second half.
“The game itself, I would characterize it as a typical pre-season game for the players as they move through. That doesn’t take away from the fact that you always want to be better, you want to improve.”
Bermuda took a shock lead in the 12th minute when some slack Canadian marking on a corner kick allowed Bermuda to make a second cross in with Harvey scoring from close range.
Canada woke up and got the equalizer in the 21st minute when Ben Fisk crossed in from the left side. The cross found Jackson-Hamel, whose initial shot was saved but the rebound went right to Osorio who tapped in from close range.
Two minutes later, Canada got in front when Osorio found Ricketts running to the right side. The Toronto FC forward had the time to control and get a low, hard shot across the ball and over the line thanks to a rebound off the post.
Canada made five changes at half time and Sean Melvin, who came on as goalkeeper at halftime was fed an innocent pass by defender Straith in the 55th minute. It should have been an easy control for him but it looked to roll under his boot and just over the line.
Simmons chased in the play and was credited with the goal as he crashed into Melvin but the ball looked like it was already over the line.
Melvin picked up an injury due to a collision with a late-arriving Bermuda player and had to be substituted. Having only two goalkeepers on the roster and with a substitution already made, Straith came on to finish the game in goal.
Gavin Day, The Canadian Press