League1 Ontario’s 2020 schedule was released Thursday, unveiling a pair of condensed seasons and revamped championship formats for both men’s and women’s divisions.
League1 Ontario women’s sides have another piece of hardware to aim for in 2020 along with the regular season and playoff championship.
League1 Ontario and Première ligue de soccer du Québec will hold a Final Four end-of-season tournament from August 14 to 16, pitting the top two sides from each league in an inter-provincial playoff.
L1O will send the 2020 regular-season champion and playoff tournament champion as representatives. If the regular-season champion also wins the playoff championship, then the playoff runner-up will qualify for the 2nd spot.
This is a chance to promote the women’s game,” League1 Ontario women’s commissioner Carmelina Moscato said. “We have Canada’s premiere women’s leagues playing beside one another.
“We’re sitting on a gold mine. The highest level of women’s soccer at the minute is right on our doorstep. We can do more. We want to do more.”
This inter-provincial playoff comes a week after the women’s championship final, which will take place August 8 – three weeks sooner than 2019’s showdown. Regular season play will conclude on July 12. Wrapping up the season by mid-August will allow university athletes to return to their respective schools while playing an entire L1O season – something previously not possible.
“We had a chance to align the schedules and calendars and we took it,” Moscato said. ”We want players to stay because the competition is great, they have a final four.”
Women's play will begin on Saturday, April 25th with three games, starting with Alliance United hosting FC London.
To view the 2020 L1O women's schedule, click here.
Meanwhile, the road to the 2021 Canadian Championship has changed for League1 Ontario men’s teams.
Thursday’s schedule revealed a new "Champions Final”, where the regular season champion and the playoff champion will square-off on Sept. 12th with the winner representing L1O in the 2021 CanChamp. If the same team wins both the regular season and the playoffs, there will be no Champions Final match. Last season, Master’s FA earned L1O’s spot in the 2020 CanChamp after beating FC London in the playoff final.
1O’s men’s season has also been condensed year-over-year, starting a week earlier on April 24th and ending by mid-August. A three-round, three-week playoff will follow – doing away with home-and-away playoff series used in 2019.
“The reality is a significant and growing proportion of our players depart for university or college in the fall,” League1 Ontario commissioner Dino Rossi said. “It just makes sense to end the season a few weeks earlier. “
“Our goal is to enjoy a more seamless transition between the League1 summer season and the College/University season. Our new schedule virtually eliminates any overlap, which has proven to be stressful for players and coaches.”
Overall, the 2020 L1O men’s docket of games will run four weeks shorter.
“In 2019, we began this process of curtailing the length of the season and in 2020 we are seeing the full execution of this strategy, with the Playoff Final scheduled for the Saturday of Labour Day weekend.
“Expect to see how the competition calendar is structured for the next several years at minimum, although we are always open to ideas that will improve the experience,” Rossi said.
Darby FC and North Missisuaga FC will open the 2020 L1O season in Whitby on Friday, April 24th.
To view the 2020 L1O men's schedule, click here.
April 24-April 26 – Opening Weekend
June 16-18– Canadian Championship Round 1, Leg 1
June 23-25– Canadian Championship Round 1, Leg 2
August 16 – End of regular season
August 21-23 – Men’s playoff quarterfinals
August 28-30 – Men’s playoff semi-final
Sept. 5 – Men’s playoff final
Sept. 12 – Champions Final (if needed)
April 25-April 26 – Opening Weekend
July 12 – End of regular season
July 18-19 – Women’s playoff quarterfinal
July 25-26 – Women’s playoff semi-final
August 8 – Women’s playoff final
August 14-16 – Women’s final four in Quebec