The sixth League1 Ontario season rolls out this weekend, featuring 15 matches across both men's and women's divisions. Come and see if you can pick out future Canadian stars!
In our third women's match overall, and the second fixture on the Day Two slate, we're off to the Nation's Capital for a debut appearance and the visit of one of a talented young side from the north GTA.
OSU Force will host Aurora FC at Quinn's Point, Ottawa on Saturday May 4 (1:30 p.m.).
OSU Force join League1 women's division for a debut season in 2019, and you can expect to see a top young side of standout NCAA players and very promising youth products.
In addition, the team will be managed by a highly-regarded coach in the province, Abe Osman, who has led numerous OSU sides to achievements in the elite youth section and tournaments in Canada and abroad.
League1 - We're all very excited to see the talent that OSU can present from the Ottawa-region. Can you tell us a bit about your players?
Abe Osman - "The league of course has a highly regarded reputation in the province for men's and women's football, and with our women's team joining for the first time in 2019 we would really like to hit the ground running."
"As a club we always aspire to be top professionals even though we work in an amateur setting. Everything we do is with the goal of playing the right way and presenting a professional looking program, as well as attracting top players. We want to put a very good product on the field, not only for fans to admire and watch, but also to provide a natural pathway for girls and young women to get to the next step."
"Clarisa Larisey is quite an accomplished player. Unbelieveable speed, provides leadership, scores goals and has experience in the league."
"Emily Amano is another very accomplished player in her time at OSU. She played University ball in the States. She brings great creativity and trickery, who looks to score goals as well as assists. Amano's eye for the game plus Larisey's speed and constant threat up front will set the table for the rest of our team to follow and emulate."
"In terms of some of our younger players, we have a number to look forward to:
Shannon Phee is a 2002 that is going on a division I scholarship to LaFayette. She also plays in the number ten role and brings pace and power.
Catherine Chadwick is another player to highlight. She is a midfielder as well, an excellent tackler, great engine in midfield. She will be going to McGill.
Lastly, Erin Foley is an important player that will be playing in defence for us, as will Julia Bailey. Nibo Dlamini and Marisa Gravel are two other players that will have a huge influence on how we play as well."
Aurora FC has been a source for some top women's players in League1 history, and this year is no different.
With a crop of young homegrown talent coming through the club, and now hitting their second year in the league together, one can expect a potent mix of well-honed chemistry, youthful industry and creativity from the yellow and black.
In 2019, the team is back under the stewardship of esteemed head coach Gianni Cimini.
League1 - Aurora has consistently had an individual or two that have been true standouts in the league, often featuring some youth internationals in the past.
What can viewers expect in 2019 from your side?
Gianni Cimini - "I'll start by listing off some players to look for:
Markela Bejleri is an attacking midfielder that is clever on the ball, she protects the ball very well. She connects dots all over the field for us. She's able to connect the final pass and is good on set pieces.
Samaya Bouak is a winger that likes to dribble at players one v one. She likes to pick up speed and get behind opponents and she's very dynamic in that sense.
Laura Morelli is the captain of the group and she's coming back from a great year at University of Guelph. She's a centre-back and is a leader in the back with Julia Ruffalo. I'll be looking to the experience of those two to help lead us.
Courtney Chocol is a number nine. Courtney is an 2002 born player that has a good frame, can run in behind and score goals. She's an out and out number nine that will be in the league for the first time and that will be interesting to watch. It's been an issue for us, just having strong number nines.
Sam Murphy will also be joining us again, and she is one that can score goals and is very competitive."
"Really, there are so many good pieces in this group to highlight and some excellent chemistry in there as well."
"You can't say there is one piece that stands out, but we have a lot of young talent that is eager to prove themselves. This could be the year that they prove it."
League1 - A first season in a league can be a real learning experience for any team. Where are you setting your objectives in a debut year?
Abe Osman - "My objective in the first season in the league is to learn a lot about the league, the players, and the predominant style of play. I'm always looking for things that I can learn and pick out as a coach."
"I've been coaching for a long time and one of the successes I've had is being able to adapt and learn quickly about how leagues are played and the best way to achieve success."
"In terms of a team, I think every coach is ambitious enough to hope they land on the right foot and our approach will be no less. We want to represent the OSU brand in the league and play our way."
"We are looking for a strong start with our mix of young and senior players and, ultimately, to provide a pathway for the players in our region. If we can finish mid-table or higher than that would be a huge accomplishment. We don't know what other teams are like, but I know as a coach that we will represent the Ottawa brand very strongly given the quality of players we have and the preparation that they have been putting in."
League1 - Aurora is a team that has shown in the past that it has players of top quality, but at times struggled to get that potential and ability to be reflected in the results column. What is your objective for the year ahead?
Gianni Cimini - "I think our big objective is to continue laying the foundation in the years to come for this group because they are still young. They will also model an identity and playing style for OPDL teams to emulate."
"Our second objective would be to get the results that our performances deserve. We were somewhere below the middle last year, and this year we want to finish above the middle of the pack."
"This is a young but very committed group. They are going to make mistakes but it's just a question of how quickly they learn from mistakes. This wouldn't happen in their own age group, but that's also the benefit for them to grow and learn."
"This is our second season in League1 for this particular group and you never know, they may be able to pull together a run of great performances. The results haven't really met the performances in the past and we're hopeful we can change that."
"This is a group that we know very well, that we've developed through the club for many years, so we've invested a lot in them and there are some excellent pieces. It's going to be all about the experience for us."