Valour’s Austin Ricci Is The 2021 CanChamp Top Goalscorer
For the first time in history, a Canadian Premier League athlete has finished as the top goalscorer in the Canadian Championship.
Valour’s Austin Ricci finished atop the scoring charts with three goals, putting him ahead of a six-way tie for second place that featured a split of two MLS and four CPL athletes.
The 25-year-old striker recorded a brace in the club’s 3-2 preliminary round win over Atletico Ottawa before scoring his third tournament goal during the club’s quarter-final cup loss to Forge FC.
Scoring the above effort was Ricci’s last act of the season, with the forward’s high-pace collision with Triston Henry resulting in a season-ending knee injury. He underwent a successful surgery two weeks later, with his recovery progressing well.
I’m very happy to finish as the top goal scorer of the tournament. In a season that ended halfway for me due to injury, I’m extremely happy to walk away with an individual award. It is a small reward for all the hard work I’ve put in over the past year. Also very grateful to win this and be put on a list with other quality players that have won it such as Giovinco, Piatti, and Osorio.Austin Ricci
With 8 goals in just 18 appearances this season, 2021 has proven to be a breakout year for the Canadian forward. His previous two seasons in the CPL saw him do just about everything but score before he silenced the critics this year.
Related: Ricci Happy To Silence ‘Outside Noise’ With First Pro Goal
Prior to turning professional with York United (then York9 FC) in 2019, Ricci was a prolific goalscorer at the PDL, League1 Ontario, and NCAA levels: he scored 12 goals in 14 appearances for the Michigan Bucks, 5 in 8 for Vaughan, and 22 in 71 for the Oakland Grizzlies.
With his contract with Valour FC set to expire, it’s unclear what will come next for the striker: for new Valour boss Phillip Dos Santos, he seems an obvious choice to retain. Still, his stock has surely risen in CPL circles, which could attract intra-league suitors.
While Canada Soccer doesn’t give an award for finishing atop the tournament’s goalscoring charts, it did hand out two individual accolades yesterday: Toronto FC’s Jacob Shaffelburg won the Best Young Canadian Award, while CF Montreal’s Sebastian Braza was hailed as this year’s Most Valuable Player and given the 2021 George Cross Memorial Trophy.
The 2019 Canadian Championship saw Tomasz Skublak and Mohamed Kourouma finish as joint second-place goalscorers with three apiece, with Ignacio Piatti finishing at the top with four.
The 2021 Canadian Championship Final saw CF Montreal retain the trophy through a sole goal from Romell Quioto, though the awkwardly belated 2020 Canadian Championship Final has yet to be played.