League1 Ontario Men’s: Week 19 Permutations
There is one weekend left in the League1 Ontario Men’s Premier Division regular season, and eight of the 21 teams still have a significant part to play. Across the ten matches that will take place between Friday and Sunday, half of them are noteworthy regarding the tables.
A first round bye, a potential home playoff game, the final two playoff spots, and the last place in next year’s League1 Ontario Premier Division are all on the line. It could not be any more exciting for fans going into this weekend’s play.
Here are the permutations going into Week 19 of the season.
First round bye: Vaughan Azzurri (45 points), Simcoe County Rovers (43)
With Scrosoppi wrapping up the regular season title on Wednesday night, they have earned a berth in the semi-finals. One of either Vaughan Azzurri or Simcoe County Rovers will join the Milton-based club in qualifying directly for the final four.
Here is the interesting thing: both teams face clubs trying to secure a playoff spot. Simcoe County Rovers takes on Alliance on Saturday, while Vaughan hosts Burlington the very next day.
The situation is very simple: the only way for the Rovers to pass Vaughan for second spot is if the former wins, and the latter does not. Any other result will see last season’s champions hold on to second spot. Seeing that both sides take on playoff hopefuls, this could go either way.
Home playoff game: Blue Devils (39), Burlington (36)
While this is not the most significant race going into the final weekend, Burlington still has the chance to catch the Blue Devils at the last. With that said, it will not be easy for Burlington.
Blue Devils FC will be idle this weekend as their regular season came to a close last Sunday. A 3-1 reverse to Vaughan Azzurri saw them slip to fourth spot. With five defeats in their last eight, the Oakville club slipped from a potential regular season title to losing out on a first round bye, and things could still get worse for them.
As mentioned earlier, Burlington meets Vaughan Azzurri on Sunday evening. In order for them to pip Blue Devils for fourth spot, they need to win by at least six goals. It looks highly unlikely that Burlington will be able to achieve this feat, but you never know. If Vaughan secures second spot without kicking a ball, maybe they will field a different team.
Briefly, Guelph United is also on 36 points, but cannot catch Blue Devils as they cannot match the latter’s 12 wins.
Final playoff spots: Guelph United (36), Burlington (36), Electric City (34), Alliance United (33)
Four teams chase the last two postseason positions, as Guelph United, Burlington, Electric City, and Alliance United are all hoping to extend their respective seasons.
Both Guelph and Burlington have their fate in their own hands: a win will get them in the playoffs. Guelph meets the ProStars at home on Sunday, aiming to cling on to the last spot. A win will see them do that, though they will also clinch should Electric City and/or Alliance fail to win. If Guelph earns more points than Burlington, that will also be enough for a top six finish.
They will miss out on the playoffs if they lose and at least one of Electric City or Alliance win. They will also lose out if they draw, Burlington draws, and Electric City wins. That would see a three-way tie on 37 points, where Guelph would miss out as a result of having one less win than the other two.
As for Burlington, they are in an interesting position. While they could finish as high as fourth, they could also finish as low as seventh. A victory will see them finish no lower than fifth, while a draw will depend on other results. The only way a draw is not enough is if both Electric City and Guelph both win. That would result in Burlington losing out on goal difference. A defeat will end their season if Electric and/or Alliance win.
As for Electric City, they travel to Windsor for a Saturday encounter with Windsor City FC. Anything less than a win will see them lose out on a playoff spot. A win will put them in the playoffs if at least one of Guelph United or Burlington fail to win. If neither earns three points this weekend, an Electric City win will see them finish fifth.
Alliance United goes into the final weekend in the most difficult situation, and they need a ton of help in order to make the playoffs. Hosting Simcoe County Rovers on Saturday night, a win is a must, as otherwise their season ends regardless of other results. Yet, a win may still not be enough: along with three points, Electric City would need to drop points, and Guelph would have to lose. In that case, Alliance would finish sixth ahead of Guelph on goal difference.
It must be noted that an Electric City win would eliminate Alliance, as even if they win and both Burlington and Guelph lose, Burlington would claim the last playoff spot on number of wins.
Final spot in League1 Ontario Premier Division for 2024: Hamilton United (48.25), Woodbridge Strikers (46.75)
Of all the ten games in League1 Ontario this weekend, there is one clear standout game. One could not ask for a better end to this regular season than the game at Vaughan Grove Turf Field on Sunday night. There, Woodbridge Strikers hosts Hamilton United Elite, and what’s on the line? The last place in League1 Ontario Premier Division.
In what is already well-established, League1 Ontario is adopting a promotion and relegation tiered system starting in 2024. The standings from last year and this year’s regular season will determine the teams who will be involved in the L1O Premier Division in 2024, and who will be demoted to the Championship Division.
Of the 12 spots in the Men’s Division, just one place remain. That final place will be given to either Woodbridge Strikers or Hamilton United Elite.
It is a winner-takes-all clash between the two clubs. One will join the likes of Scrosoppi, Blue Devils, and Vaughan Azzurri in the Premier Division next year. The other will be part of the Championship Division alongside teams like Darby, FC London, and a beleaguered Unionville Milliken.
For Hamilton United, as long as they avoided defeat, they will be that 12th and final team in L1O Premier next year. The onus is on Woodbridge to top the Forge FC development club and remain in the Premier Division next year. That match will be on YouTube on Sunday night, as we could not ask for a better way to end the regular season.