Simcoe County Rovers Enjoy Tune-Up Against Toronto FC II
The Simcoe County Rovers stood firm against professional opposition over Easter Weekend as the club prepares for just its second-ever League1 Ontario season.
The Barrie-based team looked sharp as it faced Toronto FC II, with the Rovers finishing the first half with a one-nil lead courtesy of speedy new signing Ijah Halley, who himself is a TFC Academy product who turned professional with York United.
It was another former Nine Stripe – Julian Altobelli – who levelled things for Toronto FC II in the second half, with the scores remaining even when the referee blew the final whistle.
Securing a draw against professional opposition will be seen as a big check mark for the SCRFC, who are in the midst of preseason preparations for the 2023 League1 Ontario season.
Toronto FC II, meanwhile, is two matches in to the club’s MLS NEXT Pro campaign and are still looking for their first win.
Year one for the Simcoe County Rovers saw the club reach the League1 Ontarios playoffs and even make the semi-finals, with several of the club’s inaugural squad impressing enough to turn pro in the time since: Ethan Beckford and Kahleel John-Wentworth have both landed in the CPL, while Leaford Allen and Aidan O’Hara are now playing outside Canadian borders.
That isn’t to say the club hasn’t brought in high-profile replacements to match the outbound pros: Ijah Halley arrived alongside another former York United midfielder in Javier George, while the Rovers secured another big boost through former Cuban internationals Alejandro Portal and Orlendis Benitez, too. All of them saw starts in the match against TFC2.
In net for the Rovers was former Forge FC goalkeeper Baj Maan, who made seven appearances for the hammers and is fresh off a preseason spell with Pacific FC. Also on the roster was former North Toronto Nitros midfielder Aidan Hugo, whom York United had called upon last year as an emergency roster fill-in. Having tasted L1O playoff defeat against the Rovers last year, he’s now changing Nitros green for Rovers blue.
The boys from Barrie had earlier planned to face another fully pro side in York United, though that preseason tilt was cancelled. York had themselves beaten TFC2 two-nil for their own preseason prep last month.
This marks the second year the Rovers have secured a preseason bout against pro opposition, with the inaugural squad facing the Halifax Wanderers last year.
The Simcoe County Rovers will begin their second-ever campaign with an away match against BVB IA Waterloo on April 16, with the JC Massie Field home opener coming a week later against Master’s FA on April 22.