Kentucky soccer All-America alumnus goalkeeper Callum Irving made his first start for the Canadian Senior National Team playing the first 45 minutes of a 4-2 win at Bermuda in Hamilton.

Irving conceded the first goal, and left the game with the Maple Leafs leading 2-1.

Irving made his first appearance in only his second call up to the Canadian National Team, having been named to the match squad for Canada’s friendly vs. the U.S. Men’s National Team last January.

In earning his first cap he became the second Wildcat to earn a full senior national team cap. Charley Pettys picked up a cap with Phillipines on April 11, 2014.

Canada featured five debutants, including starters Irving, Ben McKendry, and Ben Fisk. Sean Melvin and entered for Irving in the second half.

Melvin was injured on the Bermuda play that equalised the match 2-2 in the 55th minute. With Canada not allowed to return Irving into goal, centreback Adam Straith finished the match in goal.

The UK great was selected following a week-long camp held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Head Coach Michael Findley chose 18 players to make the trip to Bermuda from the camp’s original 28 invitees.

“I’m extremely honored and proud to be selected for the match against Bermuda with the national team,” Irving said before the game. “It is the ultimate goal of every Canadian player to play for the national team, and to be considered throughout this process has been a fantastic opportunity for me.”

“We’re very proud of Cally and how much he has achieved so early in his professional career,” Kentucky Head Coach Johan Cedergren said. “Making his second match-roster after being out of college for a year is an impressive testament to Cally’s qualities as a goalkeeper and dedication to his craft.”

The Vancouver, BC, native recently signed with the USL’s Ottawa Fury for 2017 campaign. Irving spent the 2016 season with Rio Grande Valley FC in the USL, where he posted eight clean sheets in 14 appearances, allowing only nine goals on the year (.65 GAA).

He spent time training with RGV’s MLS parent the Houston Dynamo throughout the season, making an appearance on the bench for their Sept. 17 match at Real Salt Lake during a short-term loan.

Irving led Kentucky to an undefeated run through the 2015 conference season, earning Kentucky’s first-ever Conference USA Championship. Too add to the impressive CV, he did so while conceding just one goal in eight league matches.

He finished his UK career with the program’s all-time records in shutouts (27) and goals-against average (minimum 2,500 minutes – 0.86).

“I love this place,” Irving said of his UK career. “I came in as a freshman and it didn’t quite go exactly as I had planned. Everyone comes in with a thought of how they want it to go, and it went the exact opposite of that. The coaching staff had a lot of faith in me still, as well as my teammates.|

“I kind of found my place here and found my home. Over the past three years, I can see where we built it from and see that I had an impact on it. I just feel really lucky to be here the past four years. I have enjoyed my time, and I think I will be following UK men’s soccer forever. It is my family now.”

For the second time in as many seasons, Irving garnered three C-USA men’s soccer specialty awards as he was voted the Conference USA Player of the Year, the Conference USA Defensive MVP and a First-Team All-C-USA selection – as a senior. He also repeated as recipient of the Golden Glove Award, given to the goalkeeper who posts the most shutouts in C-USA play. Irving posted a 0.66 goals-against average (11th, NCAA) in 19 matches in 2015, totaling nine shutouts. Seven of the clean sheets came against C-USA opponents as he notched a 0.12 goals-against average, allowing just one goal in eight conference matches (773:45 minutes). Irving was named All-America by the NSCAA in 2015.

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by Jacob Most