Simcoe County Rovers Top Scrosoppi in L1O Men’s Final
In what was a thrilling conclusion to the League1 Ontario Men’s Premier Division season, the Simcoe County Rovers defeated Scrosoppi 4-2 in Saturday night’s final. The goals were spread out well throughout the game, making for an entertaining match.
For Scrosoppi, they won the regular season title, earning them a bye to the semi-finals. There, they got past Blue Devils FC 2-1 to reach the final. They won the head-to-head meeting with Simcoe during the regular season, a 3-2 victory back in July.
As for Jason Beckford’s Simcoe County Rovers, they also earned a bye to the semi-finals after they passed last season’s Champions Vaughan Azzurri during the final weekend of the regular season. Rovers would go on to defeat Vaughan 3-0 in the semifinals, booking their place in Saturday’s curtain closer.
It did not take long for Simcoe County Rovers to take the lead in the final. Just five minutes in, former Altetico Ottawa striker Shawn Claud-Lawson put the ball into an empty net off a deflected cross. The Barrie-based side could not have asked for a better start to the game.
Even still, just four minutes later the Rovers doubled their advantage. Cuban international Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez managed to get the better of his marker, finding Paul Karagianakos in the box. The latter made no mistake in beating Andreas Vaikla to double Simcoe County’s lead.
After that, Scrosoppi started to get into the game. Down 2-0 just nine minutes in, they had to improve very quickly as they were second-best for the opening quarter hour.
As Scrosoppi grew into the game they started to create chances. A few minutes before half-time, the pressure would finally pay off. Alexander Zis found Omari Cotterell with a perfect cross, who made no mistake in beating Baj Maan to halve the deficit.
Scrosoppi continued to dominate the second half as they searched for an equalizer. Maan was at his best for Simcoe, making multiple saves to maintain the lead for his side.
Midway through the second half, Rovers scored a third. Benitez-Hernandez got into the Scrosoppi box and was taken down by Victor Gallo, earning Rovers a penalty. Jevontae Layne stepped up and made no mistake, slotting home the spot kick.
Now down 3-1, Scrosoppi went back it trying to get back in the game. With 15 minutes left to play, Cameron Da Silva received a straight red card for pulling Cody Ellis’ hair, giving Scrosoppi a man advantage.
Less than 10 minutes after that, Scrosoppi would get their second. After Maan made another big save, league leading scorer Tomasz Skublak did well to compose himself before firing the ball home.
However, that was the closest Scrosoppi got. Simcoe County Rovers scored once again minutes later. A cross into the box found Layne, whose excellent shot beat Vaikla for his second of the match.
That was the final goal of the game as the Simcoe County Rovers held on for the 4-2 win. The victory means that not only are they the 2023 League1 Ontario champions, they also qualify for next year’s Canadian Championship, becoming the fifth different L1O side to participate in the competition. They will be an interesting watch in the national cup tournament.
It was a fantastic way to end what was a phenomenal campaign. Next year being the start of the new three-tier system, it will only get better in League1 Ontario.
Header Image Photo Credit: Martin Bazyl / League1 Ontario