Vaughan Azzurri vs Simcoe County Rovers – Saturday 7pm ET (North Maple Regional Park)
The Azzurri begin their playoff campaign this weekend as the team to beat – something that no opposition has managed this season in the Men’s Premier Division.
They have scored 76 goals this season which is more than double Simcoe County Rovers’ 37, winning 18 of their 21 games. Massimo Ferrin has led the line with 23 goals in 15 appearances, while strike partner Kosi Nwafornso netted 16 in 11.
Simcoe County Rovers left it fashionably late to see off North Toronto Nitros in the playoff quarterfinal; substitute Ryley Wishart scored in the 83rd minute and Ethan Beckford sealed the deal five minutes later.
The 2-0 victory in the quarterfinal means the fifth-seed Rovers have not lost, or conceded more than one goal, in the last seven games. Their defence will need to be in fine form against the Azzurri if they are to book their spot in the last two.
Simcoe County Rovers
The Azzurri hosted the Rovers in the regular season and the two teams shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 tie. Orlendis Benitez Hernandez starred for the home side, assisting Andron Kagramanyan for the opener and scoring one himself after Simcoe’s Jah'Moises Corona had levelled the score.
The Rovers then netted in the 87th minute through Reshon Phillip to take home the point – but a winner will need to be found at the weekend as only one of these teams can progress to the final.
Alliance United and Blue Devils
Blue Devils vs Alliance United – Sunday 4pm ET (Bronte Athletic Field)
Blue Devils were last season’s ‘nearly’ team, losing in the Men’s Premier Division final to Guelph United and falling in the Women’s Premier Division final to Woodbridge Strikers.
Last year the men’s team had to beat an undefeated Azzurri side to get to the trophy game (that’s Simcoe’s task now), but they are determined to go one better this time around. Striker Taha Ilyass has 19 goals in as many games and the team hasn’t lost at home all season.
Alliance United finished third in the regular season standings and overcame ProStars 4-0 in their quarterfinal match-up. Atchuthan Sivananthan and Nirun Sivananthan both scored two – adding to their combined total of 18 goals in the regular season.
It was Alliance’s seventh victory in their last nine games, scoring 22 and conceding just six in the process, which is tough form for Blue Devils to come up against.
These two sides met on June 12th and tied 1-1. Ilyass’ goal in the 54th minute looked like it would be the winner until Nick Killian scored in added time to ensure the points were shared.
Only two points separated these sides in the table and they have the two best defensive records in the league – Blue Devils conceded 16 goals in the regular season while Alliance managed one less with 15.