Court hears about football game that turned bloody

A player from an opposing soccer team rounded punched him in the face during a recreational league game in 2019, Adam Erickson told a judge on Monday.

The blow fractured the orbital bone in his right eye and the injury required 18 stitches, the 30-year-old testified on the first day of the trial of the man accused of assaulting him.

The pain from his swollen eye and the lacerations around it was “excruciating”, Erickson said, but he did not have to have surgery and although his vision was blurry for a month and a half, there is no had no long-term effects.

Joshua Gauthier has pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault in connection with the July 8, 2019 incident at Strathclair Field.

In addition to the plaintiff, Superior Court Judge Edward Gareau heard testimony from three other witnesses – a city police officer who investigated the incident and two of Erickson’s teammates.

Erickson told Assistant Crown Attorney Matthew Caputo that he played right midfielder for Team Jiggerz in a game against BDO that night in what he described as a division with a high level of competitiveness.

“Everyone was there to win,” he said.

The ball was moving on his side of the field, heading towards the opposing team.

Erickson said he was unsure of Gauthier’s position and had no interaction with him.

But “we were neck and neck”, were within 15 feet of each other and were converging, “both running for the ball”.

The 156-pound, 5-foot-11 man said he kicked the ball into the other team’s net, Gauthier called him “f…” and he replied that Gauthier couldn’t take a challenge.

“I turned my back” and then “I remember getting up on my hands and knees with blood pouring down my face.”

He told the court he felt anger and pain and was in shock. The game stopped, the referee whistled and someone helped him up.

Erickson said he didn’t know who Gauthier was or what he looked like.

“I was overwhelmed with rage and screamed in anger when they took me to my bench. I punched the metal canopy and fractured my hand.”

During cross-examination by defense attorney Don Orazietti, he insisted that Gauthier hit him from behind as he walked away.

“He didn’t hit me face to face,” Erickson said, denying insulting Gauthier and pushing him.

The plaintiff also rejected Orazietti’s claim that he was stabbing Gauthier’s legs, kicking and shoving him.

“I was just playing football,” Erickson said.

While acknowledging that he was a competitive person, he denied causing the incident.

Brandon Gribelli was the goalkeeper and team manager for Jiggerz in 2019.

At first, the match was not competitive because BDO lacked a player, but 10 to 15 minutes in Gauthier showed up and it became more physical, he said.

Shortly after, Gauthier, whom the witness describes as a good, more physical player, fouled one of Jiggerz’s defenders and argued.

Following a stoppage in play, Gauthier then had the ball, and Erickson was trying to take it away from him, when Gauthier turned around and punched him in the face, Gribelli said.

After being hit, Erickson fell to the ground.

“He got up pretty quickly. He wasn’t very happy. Words were exchanged. We’re all freaking out.”

The witness said Gauthier returned to his bench, but did not check to see if Erickson was okay.

Erickson wanted to go to Gauthier, but the other players came between the two men to separate them.

In frustration, Erickson hit their dugout, Gribelli said.

Gauthier received a red card and left the field.

Gribelli described play with BDO as aggressive compared to other teams in the league, as the others had more skilled players.

Individual players, like Gauthier, were aggressive, which is “why we didn’t like playing against this team,” he said.

On cross-examination by Orazietti, he agreed that Erickson was feisty enough, despite the hit, that he still wanted to go with Gauthier.

He denied that his team was known to be aggressive and played hard and tried to bully Gauthier because he was BDO’s best player.

Gribelli said he didn’t see Erickson push Gauthier and dismissed the defense’s suggestion that it could have happened and he missed it.

Another Jiggerz player, Nicholas Dilabio, was on the bench when the incident happened.

He said Gauthier had control of the ball, defending it with his body and turning his back on Erickson.

“Adam bent down with his foot to try and get the ball back,” Dilabio told Crown. “Josh pushed him away, turned around and punched Adam in the face.”

The witness said Erickson fell to the ground.

“I was in shock. There was a lot of blood,” he said. “It was football. I didn’t expect fists and so much blood.”

Dilabio said he did not hear any verbal altercation between the two men.

He agreed on cross-examination that both men were very competitive.

Gauthier was a quick and physical player, who knew how to handle the ball and scored often, he said.

The trial continues today.