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2019 Women's Playoffs: Quarter Final Preview Pt. I

08/02/2019, 2:45pm EDT
By League1 Ontario staff

The 2019 League1 Ontario Women's Division Playoffs will kick off tonight and there is going to be some serious quality on display as the top eight sides from the regular season go to battle. 

Let's take a closer look at the match-ups...

1) Oakville Blue Devils (1) v Darby FC (8)

It was a big season for both Oakville Blue Devils and Darby FC.

A second season for Oakville women's side in League1 saw the team build off the quality they showed in year one, but where the consistency of results was hard to find in 2018 - the Blue Devils certainly shut up shop in 2019. 

The Blue Devils blanketed their 12 match list of results with Ws, losing only two matches in the season - Vaughan SC on May 26 and Hamilton United on June 28 - and largely taking their victories by two-goal margins at least. 

The team is heavy with offensive talent, including Egyptian international, Mahira Ali, Canadian internationals, Sarah Stratagakis and Patricia Koutoulas, Croatian international, Natalie Bukovec, All-American Paige Culver and further quality through the ranks from the likes of Roselyne Kyeame, Laura Twidle, Rachel Melhado and... well the list is long!

Darby also tooled up in 2019, bringing in Canadian international program players like Mollie Erikkson and Olivia Cooke. But the team's longstanding core - of players like Tori Chia, Selah Hopkins, Lauryn Arruda and a host of others - came into the 2019 season as far more mature and developed players than in previous years.

Darby has always had talent but struggled to get the results to match, but in 2019 head coach Graeme Burns unlocked the group's potential and sent them on a two month run of form to take the final playoff spot. 

Previous result: A 3-1 result in favour of Oakville in the final match-up of the season. Can the Darby girls reverse it with their home leg to start the two game series or will Oakville return to home grounds of Sheridan and wrap it all up?

Quarter-Final Details:

Fri Aug 2 (8 p.m.) Darby FC v Oakville Blue Devils @ Clarington Field, Oshawa

Sun Aug 11 (2 p.m.) Oakville Blue Devils v Darby FC @ Sheridan College, Oakville   

2) Woodbridge SC (4) v OSU Force (5)

With our second quarter-final, supporters are in for a treat. 

One of the perennial powerhouses of the league, Woodbridge SC, start out against one of the quality young sides that joined in 2019 - OSU Force. 

Woodbridge will have bad memories of the 2018 Final - when they dropped a heart-breaker to Durham in penalties - and doubtlessly have been gearing up for post-season ever since. 

A deep roster of quality and experience marks the Strikers game-sheet, with former Canadian internationals in Alyscha Blair and Diamond Simpson, as well as professional and elite former and current university players in the Bertrand sisters, April Syme, Cathryn Rogers, Christina White stand alongside talented youngsters like Ida Miceli and Lauren Hart. The team's form was patchy through the season, but finishing off with three clean sheets and impressive multi-goal wins - including a top 3-nil away result over FC London - will have the 'Bridge on a high going into the first round. 

OSU Force joined L1O in 2019 and came out the gates flying. The team racked up three strong wins on the trot, before hitting some potholes throughout June. 

An impressive array of goalscoring ability - from the likes of Clarissa Larissey, Kathrine Chadwick, Marion Taiwoo and Marie-Pierre Beaudoin - fronts a hard-working side with plenty of pace and self-belief. 

Under the guidance of head coach Abe Osman, a coach highly respected in Ontario circles for his longstanding work with top boys and girls sides out of Ottawa South United, OSU proved that their superb organization, quality on the ball and never-say-die attitude would bring them to the post-season in style. 

Previous result: A whopping 6-nil result in favour of Woodbridge at Vaughan Grove, Woodbridge, on the final day of the regular season. This result could either be a harbringer of things to come in the Quarters, or grant the hosts a premature sense of accomplishment and allow a determined OSU side to make their mark early. 

Quarter-Final Details:

Fri Aug 2 (9 p.m.) Woodbridge SC v OSU @ Vaughan Grove, Woodbridge

Fri Aug 9 (8:45 p.m.) OSU Force v Woodbridge SC @ Quinn's Pointe, Ottawa   

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