A strong hand of management is needed to guide a team to success at any level, and in the 2019 League1 Ontario there were two head coaches that stood out from the field for their ability to bring a team to full potential over the regular season.
And, in a dramatic twist, both coaches wear the same crest on their top; any idea who they might be??
Check out the 2019 League1 Ontario Coaches of the Year!
Oakville Blue Devils were an absolute juggernaut in the 2019 League1 Ontario season - across both divisions.
Men's head coach, Duncan Wilde, and women's head coach, John Yacou, guided their teams to the top of the regular season tables with insightful match IQ and managerial acumen in spades.
Wilde is no stranger to the top of the table. He took the Blue Devils to League1 titles in 2015 and 2017 and, although the format of competition has changed slightly over the years, he showed in 2019 that he and his technical staff of Billy Steele, Brett Mosen and Glenn McNamara still have the knack for generating winning form.
The Blue Devils dropped only one loss and two draws over the 15 match slate, establishing a strong defensive base that conceded a mere eight goals (second in league) while scoring 29 (nearly an average of two goals per game).
The Blue Devils bowed out of the playoffs after a grueling second leg battle with the eventual champions, Masters FA Saints, but it took until the very final minutes of the post-season for a side to finally unlock the Blue Devils' puzzle.
(Photo: F10 Sports)
(Photo: Bob Twidle)
On the women's side of the 2019 Oakville Blue Devils' program, head coach John Yacou harnessed the full potential of a team stacked with talent and eager to prove a point.
Despite a strong regular season and clear indication of their ability over the course of the 2018 season, Yacou's side had bowed out just ahead of playoffs (only one point short of the cut). In 2019, team and head coach returned with a vengeance.
Yacou found several top new signings with which to augment his talented team - for example, senior experience from former Canadian international Rachel Melhado and youthful quality from Patrycia Kozak - and took the league by storm.
Blue Devils' women led the league in scoring with 47 goals from 13 matches, and were just one goal out of taking the top defensive record as well after conceding only 12 goals. A loss in late May and another in late June were the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect regular season record, during which Yacou's side claimed six clean sheets.
The Blue Devils only seemed to gather steam through the playoff period as well, decimating Darby FC with an 8-nil aggregate scoreline over two legs before meeting powerhouse side, Woodbridge Strikers in the Semi-Finals. The opposition was a familiar one, as it was the Strikers that had put Yacou's side out of playoff contention in 2018. In 2019, the team banished the hoodoo from the season before, winning the second leg and showing immense composure to win in penalties.
Although Yacou's team was ultimately stopped by FC London in the Final, the team's performance was near perfect; it took a last-gasp goal from London's talisman and 2019 League1 Golden Boot winner, Jade Kovacevic, to eventually end a dream season.
Congratulations to Duncan Wilde and John Yacou - 2019 League1 Ontario Coaches of the Year!