Coming off two outstanding regular season displays, and having stomped through their Quarter-Final and Semi-Final match-ups, FC London and Oakville Blue Devils will match up on Saturday in the 2019 League1 Ontario Women's Championship Final.
Within the ranks of the two side are two bonafide stars of the women's division: 2019 League1 Ontario Golden Boot winner, Jade Kovacevic (FC London) and the Golden Boot Runner-Up, Mahira Ali (Oakville Blue Devils). The battle between these two should be a riveting mini-match in itself!
Kovacevic is a three time League1 MVP and a four time Golden Boot winner - easily the top player that League1 women's division has ever featured. She is also coming off a season of professional play in Italy's Serie B at Roma CF.
Ali is a former Egypt Senior Women's international, a 2018 League1 Ontario All-Star, and a phenomenal attacking talent in her own rite. Check out her 2018 League1 Ontario Goal of the Year for a sample of her ankle-breaking ability on the ball.
London may have to be the favourite going into this match based on the fact that they've been to the big show before and taken home the laurels. London won back to back titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as a regular season title in 2018 before going out in the playoffs Semi-Finals.
On the other hand, Oakville Blue Devils are the 2019 regular season champs and won all matches bar two over 13 games. They also soundly beat London away in their one 2019 regular season meeting. If recent history is anything to go on, the tables could be turned.
What are the coaches saying?
Mike Marcoccia, FC London Head Coach:
"I think this final is different for us."
"It's hard to say one Championship has been more important than the other, but this one is different because the journey has been different. I've been the coach for four years and I've never lined up in a Championship game with six girls in my roster under the age of 17."
"When you see my team walk out for this Final, you will see some familiar faces but when you look down my bench - and possibly even at the starting lineup - you will see 16 and 17 year old players that are not even done high school yet. That in itself will mean something to me if we're successful."
"We see the experienced players preparing for this Final just as they always have, and now we are seeing a whole group of younger players simply fighting for a chance to get on the bus. That has been really cool."
Mahira Ali, Oakville Blue Devils (Photo: Kevin Raposo Photography)
John Yacou, Oakville Blue Devils Head Coach:
"I expect we'll see our key players perform on Saturday."
"Our top goalscorer, Mahira [Ali], our top midfielder Laura [Twidle], our centre-back, who has been solid all year, Rachel [Melhado]. In midfield we also have two hard-working players that haven't been mentioned a lot, Dani [Vis] and Jivan [Yacou]. They have been outstanding all year. It will be an exciting final."
"At Oakville Blue Devils we are proud of the success we've had, but maybe even more proud of the players we are bringing through. Going into this final we actually have a 2004 born player, who will be starting."
"I think this might actually be a record in League1. She has been our top youth player coming up and her name is Patrycia Kozak. She played in the Semis against Woodbridge and was a constant threat."
Projected Lineup (Oakville Blue Devils) - 4-3-3 formation: Elisa Lapadula; Leanne Forker; Rachel Melhado (c); Rana Hamdy; Talia Sierra; Danielle Vis; Maria Poveda; Mahira Ali; Patrycia Kozak; Oshay Lawes; Laura Twidle (c)
Projected Lineup (FC London) - 4-3-3 formation: Emily Gillet; Denise Fortin; Daniella Strano; Angelika Mihalopolous; Amber-Lea Hodgins; Julia Benati; Marisa Oliveira; Chelsea Zavitz; Nicole Neilsen; Jade Kovacevic (c); Kayla McQueen
HEAD TO HEAD
Alex Clements (FC London) - Out, knee
Emily Porteous (Oakville Blue Devils) - Out, concussion
Nicole Mailloux (Oakville Blue Devils) - Out, knee