The Woodbridge Strikers sunk Blue Devils FC with a seventh-minute goal to lift their first League1 Ontario women's division title.
The perennial powerhouse had yet to win the league's top prize until Sunday night at the Ontario Soccer Centre. Many of the core Woodbridge veterans that played in the gruelling 2018 finals loss played a huge part in the 2021 iteration that ended with smiling faces rather than broken hearts.
The long goal of the match was set up by Christabel Oduro dancing up the pitch, avoiding defenders until being tripped up for a foul.
Serena Dolan stepped over the ensuing free kick, launching a rocket from about 30 meters that dipped at the end to find the back of the goal. Blue Devils goalkeeper Elisa Lapadula got a glove on the ball, but the touch wasn't enough
Despite the lone goal, both teams piled on the chances. With no fear, Laura Twidle took shot after shot from outside of the box, getting close with a crossbar deflections and near misses.
Woodbridge's midfield of Dolan and April Syme protected their half and made key passes to the forwards in quick transition. Oduro consistently brought the ball into the attacking third with slick moves, creating chance after chance.
Both goalkeepers and defences kept the game close with key saves. Woodbridge came close to doubling their lead in the 64th minute before Emily Porteous slid in to block the shoot and clear the chance off the line. Elisa Lapadula stopped multiple Woodbridge chances, and Vanessa Fiore commanded her box well to limit the Blue Devils' opportunities.
The Blue Devils chased the equalizer late in the game, earning several corner kicks in the final five minutes and added time. 2004-born Patrycia Kozak got the Blue Devils fans out of their seats in the in 88th minute with a 20 meter curler that went just over the Woodbridge crossbar. However, they ultimately could not find the goal they needed to extend the game, forcing them to face a second-consecutive finals defeat.
Oduro's strong play over 90 minutes was rewarded with a Finals MVP award.
The Woodbridge Strikers finish their 2021 campaign with a 6-3-3 record and their first league title after a stellar run in the playoffs.
Blue Devils FC complete their season with a 6-5-1 record. They'll hope to rebound in 2022.