By The Numbers: A Look At League1 Ontario’s TOTW Nods
In a regular season that was filled with goals, record-setting blowouts, and drama aplenty, the 2023 League1 Ontario men’s season will conclude this weekend with an almighty clash between Scrosoppi FC and the Simcoe County Rovers.
The regular season saw them finish first and second respectively, so their playoff form comes as no surprise – but that still got us thinking about what we can learn from the regular season overall.
We took a look at all the 2023 League1 Ontario season team of the week nods to paint a picture of not just the top two clubs, but some high performers to keep eyes on moving forward.
3 – The Number Of Players Tied For Most Team Of The Week Nods
Amazingly, there are no less than three players who led the team of the week honours rankings with eight apiece, and two of them are destined for the final.
Alliance United’s Nikola Stakic – who won midfielder of the year last season – made the case once again with eight individual team of the week nods, while former Canadian Premier League ballers Orlendis Benitez (Simcoe County Rovers) and Tomasz Skublak (Scrosoppi FC) also accrued eight apiece for their stellar, point-grabbing efforts.
All three of them have tasted professional ball before and seem to have surpassed the L1O level – though for now they remain at the semi-pro level into their mid-twenties. Massimo Ferrin proved players of that age could jump right in to the CPL level, so it remains to be seen if the CPL will come calling for any of the team of the week leaders.
We’d also like to give a special nod to Blue Devils’ duo Adam Czerkawski and Kevin Sinclair, who were the next runners-up with six and five TOTW honours apiece, the best for any defender.
17 – The Most TOTW Nods A Single Club Got
The Simcoe County Rovers officially took home the most Team of the Week features with seventeen, with former Cuba international Orlendis Benitez collecting eight of them while Allen Blegay (who is just 16, by the way), Jevontae Layne, Paul Karagianakos, Baj Maan, Justin Earle, and Tajay Reid split the rest.
There was plenty of parity amongst the top sides for the most-represented club, with Alliance United, Blue Devils FC, Burlington, and Guelph United all having sixteen apiece, while finalists Scrosoppi FC had a hearty gathering of fourteen, more than half of which came from Tomasz Skublak.
21 – Every Men’s Team Made The List
Every single League1 Ontario men’s team was represented in the Team of the Week rankings this season, with 21 of an expected 22 teams being represented (Pickering FC wasn’t able to field a team this year, and their license will go to a new club in 2024).
The 21 League1 Ontario men’s teams averaged nine representations throughout the season, with only three having less than five: 2019 champions Master’s FA had three, while struggling sides BVB Waterloo and Unionville Milliken saw just one nod apiece.
While Unionville finished a clear bottom team and will hopefully prove more competitive in the League1 Ontario Championship, defender Micah Chisholm – who recently signed in the youth ranks with Hannover 96 – ensured they got at least one face on board in the regular season’s final stages.
3 – The Most Highlighted Keeper
The number three is back again in a big way, representing the highest number of team of the week nods given to a single goalkeeper. The honour goes to Guelph United’s Carter Robart, who collected seven clean sheets in 21 matches to help the 2021 L10 champions reach playoffs.
He was eligible for this season’s U SPORTS Draft, so it’ll be interesting to see if a solid season helps him earn a pro opportunity next year. At just twenty years old, the six-foot-two shotstopper has room to grow, especially as he continues to get experience with a competitive U SPORTS side like the Guelph Gryphons.
Additional shoutsout to Daniel Clarke (Woodbridge) and Darlington Murasiranwa (FC London), who came next with two apiece, with the latter already securing a return to professional football through Valour FC!
52 – Times A Former CPL Athlete Cracked The List
This number might be off a bit for all of the CPL’s quiet emergency call-ups, which are quite hard to track. We’re counting players like Michael Williams, who almost made his CPL debut at the age of 15, or Dino Bontis, who was signed on a dev deal by Forge but never ultimately played a match.
With former CPL talent grabbing TOTW nods 52 times, that means that 25% of the league’s weekly honours went to someone who had accrued professional experience in Canada’s domestic top flight.
Given that League1 Ontario is touted a pathway to professional football, we’re really pleased to see that former pros are able to consistently highlight themselves at a competitive level that will only rise with a new top flight in the provincial ladder.
31 – The Number Of TOTWs The League1 Ontario Championship Finalists Got
This year’s playoff finalists laid claim to some 15% of the overall team of the week honours, which is a staggering chunk for just two of twenty-one teams to grab.
With the Simcoe County Rovers landing seventeen to Scrossopi’s fourteen, is the Barrie-based club a favourite coming in, or does Scrossopi head coach John Yacou get that nod for leading the team to first in the regular season? They’re big questions to consider, but either way both of the expansion clubs have put in a sterling season.
Whatever happens this Saturday, we can’t wait to see who will lift the trophy and earn a berth into the 2024 Canadian Championship when the final plays out on Saturday, September 2.