Six Former CPL Talents Named In League1 Ontario Awards
The 2021 League1 Ontario Men’s Premier Division Awards have been announced, with several former Canadian Premier League players making the shortlist for the semi-professional division.
Given that a good batch of talent in the provincial division had obtained professional experience from the Canadian Premier League level over the last two years, it should come as no surprise that they’ve collectively been some of the league’s top performers, with many earning awards this week.
Without further ado, let’s look at the six former Canadian Premier League athletes who picked up awards for the 2021 League1 Ontario season:
Jace Kotsopoulos (West Division MVP / League1 Ontario Golden Boot Winner / Western Conference All-Star)
Former CPL Clubs: Forge FC, York United FC
Guelph United talisman Jace Kotsopoulos was the one to watch in the 2021 League1 Ontario season: he captained his team to a championship in its debut season, scoring an astounding 18 goals in 14 matches along the way.
The 24-year-old proved an astute CPL-U SPORTS Draft pick for Forge in 2019, scoring a goal on his league debut (one which helped send the club to the Concacaf League, no less) before returning to the University of Guelph after 219 minutes of game time.
The following year saw him make history as the first player to cross 905 Derby lines, signing for York United as a last-minute addition ahead of the The Island Games. While he only made a handful of minutes in 2020, he’s clearly a talent that can rise above League1 Ontario.
Svyatik Artemenko (West Division Golden Glove / Western Conference All-Star)
Former CPL Club: Valour FC
Former Valour FC emergency goalkeeper Svyatik Artemenko had a stellar year with Guelph United, leading the league in clean sheets with five and having a memorable night of heroics in the semi-finals, where he scored his spot kick and then saved one from his opposite number as his side went through 9-8 on penalties.
The 21-year-old had spent his preseason with Valour FC, and always seemed on the precipice of earning a full Canadian Premier League contract. While 2019 saw him travel with the side, he has yet to make his professional debut after impressing at the Got Game trials.
Quillan Roberts (East Division Golden Glove / Eastern Conference All-Star)
Former CPL Club: Forge FC
2019 Canadian Premier League winner Quillan Roberts landed with expansion side 1812 FC this year, entertaining crowds with a number of gasp-worthy saves. He would have had an iron man season if not for a red card, too.
The 27-year-old Guyanese international had made eight league starts for Forge FC in the inaugural Canadian Premier League season, helping the Hamilton-based side secure the first-ever North Star Shield. A proven talent, it’ll be interesting to see if the former Toronto FC and LAFC backup goalkeeper can force his way back into the professional level.
Justin Springer (West Division – Coach Of The Year)
Former CPL Side: York United FC
Former York United defender Justin Springer shared the west division’s coach of the year award alongside Guelph United head coach Keith Mason. The duo have been working together at the University of Guelph since 2020, and have evidently made quite the pairing in League1 Ontario, too.
The now-retired centre-back made fifteen appearances for York United throughout the inaugural CPL season. He held a depth role through the spring, but came back strong in the fall to feature heavily for the Nine Stripes.
His last professional game came through international duty on November 19 for Saint Kitts & Nevis, with the defender seeing out a nil-nil draw against Grenada.
Tomasz Skublak (Western Conference All-Star)
Former CPL Club: Halifax Wanderers FC
The prolific season followed some time abroad in the lower divisions of Poland and Germany, before which he had registered a single goal in 21 league appearances for the Halifax Wanderers. He was more prolific in cup action, scoring in every home-and-away round against the Vaughan Azzurri, Valour FC, and Ottawa Fury.
Jarred Philips (Eastern Conference All-Star)
Former CPL Club: Atletico Ottawa
Jarred earned his fourth all-star nod with gusto, making eleven appearances for the Vaughan Azzurri as the club finished top of the east before bowing out in the semi-finals. Having hoisted the league’s trophy twice already, however, you can expect Jarred to come back hungry.
Last season saw us list him as a likely CPL signing alongside Maksym Kowal, with Atletico Ottawa eventually naming him as a last-gasp addition to the club’s inaugural roster. Phillips went on to make five appearances for Atletico Ottawa, collecting a total of 292 minutes as a fill-in for Vashon Neufville.
We’ve also got to hand honourable mentions to former CPL-U SPORTS Draft picks Alexis Zis and Reggie Laryea, both of whom had stellar all-star-earning seasons in the west and east respectively. The prolific Alexis Zis was selected by Forge in the 2019 CPL-U SPORTS Draft, while Atletico Ottawa selected Reggie the following draft. Neither ultimately earned a pro deal, however.
Blue Devils FC midfielder Brandon Duarte earned a Western All-Star nod, appearing in thirteen matches as the side went all the way to the final. He trialed with Atletico Ottawa last year.
We’ll also give a nod to Sigma’s Kyle Walton, who earned a Western Conference All-Star shout this season: having trialed with both York United in 2019 and Atletico Ottawa in 2020, he’s certainly a defender who’s been on the precipice of CPL action. If not for a preseason injury last year, we might’ve seen him reach those heights.
We’d like to extend congratulations to all of the League1 Ontario athletes who took to the pitch this year, and we’re excited to see what will unfold in the 2022 League1 Ontario season – especially with the likes of the Simcoe County Rovers, Electric City FC, and Pickering FC all coming in.