(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)
League1 Ontario kicks off the 2019 season on Friday May 3 – the sixth in the standards-based, pro-am Ontario senior league’s history – with two matches in the women’s division and one in the men’s division.
"The 2019 season marks the beginning of a bold new era for League1 Ontario," said League1 Commissioner, Dino Rossi Jr.
"With new teams, new coaches and the expected infusion of many new young stars coming into the league, there will be no shortage of exciting story-lines around our league."
League1 rosters are due for a new look in the season ahead as a large number of players have graduated to professional environments around the world – including 31 former League1 men’s players currently signed to professional contracts with Canadian Premier League (CPL) clubs.
“This off-season has been the busiest in our history,” said Rossi. “We are so excited for the large number of all-star calibre players, both male and female, who have graduated to higher level professional opportunities, whether it be with Canadian Premier League sides or in foreign leagues.”
"This creates significant opportunities for the next generation to make their mark on League1 and catch the attention of the professional clubs, who clearly view League1 as the best platform for professional development in Canada."
In 2019, a table of 16 men’s teams will compete for the 2019 League1 Ontario title and a berth in the 2020 Canadian Championship. The teams will play a 15-match regular season, with eight teams qualifying for a post-season playoff competition to determine the champion.
Quarter-finals and semi-finals will feature a two-leg format in 2019, with the 2019 Championship Final to be contested on September 28.
(Photo: Martin Bazyl Photography)
In the women’s division, 14 teams will compete for the 2019 League1 Ontario title, each playing a 13-match regular season. The post-season qualification process will be the same as outlined in the men’s division, with eight teams making the final cut.
The 2019 Women’s Championship Final will be contested on August 31.
The L1 Cup (league cup tournament) will not be contested in 2019 and its future will be reviewed by the league's Board of Directors.
"We are excited about the changes we have made to our competition structure for 2019," said Rossi.
"We experimented with a unique playoff format last season on the men’s side and while it provided some drama, we believe this more conventional format will provide the best test for playoff qualifiers to determine who will lift the Championship trophies at the end of the season."
The 2018 League1 men’s champions, Vaughan Azzurri, have qualified for the 2019 Canadian Championship tournament. They will square off against CPL side, Halifax Wanderers, in a two-leg competition in early May (home – May 15; away – May 22). The winner of this opening round match will qualify to play Winnipeg Valour FC in the second round.
"The opportunity for our champion to participate in the Canadian Championship tournament is a massive honour and opportunity," Rossi added.
"We believe this Vaughan side, which will feature many new faces for 2019, as well as a new head coach in Patrice Gheisar, will be very prepared and will represent League1 very well."
"I look forward to cheering them on in Halifax and hopefully even making a trip to Winnipeg in June."
Vaughan qualified for the 2019 Canadian Championship by winning League1 Ontario in 2018 (Martin Bazyl Photography)
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