Late game heroics helped Alliance United come back from a goal down to lift their first League1 Ontario Women’s Premier Division title in a 2-1 win over NDC Ontario.
NDC-Ontario maintained a slim lead for most of the match, but Alliance kept relentless faith in themselves until the dying seconds. Cassie Chan raced forward from centre-back to the opposing box on a throw-in deep into added time and pounced off a loose ball to bury it into the net and level the match, extending the game into two 15-minute periods of extra-time.
Alliance pushed forward with momentum in the first extra period, and the winning goal came when Jenny Wolever launched a rocket free-kick into the box. Hannah Chown rose high to head in the title decider in the 101st minute.
The Markham, ON-based club was the only team in the last two years to beat NDC Ontario in the regular season, and the newly-crowned champions exacted revenge over their rivals after a three-goal heartbreak in the 2022 final.
NDC Ontario were the narrow favourites this year and controlled possession in the first half as Alliance compacted into a fortress to protect their goal.
The young defending champions showed moments of shaky passing, and Miranda Badovanic capitalized on loose ball control as she pressed to win the ball over Stephanie Schoeley. The forward took a shot from distance, but couldn’t make good contact on the ball as Noelle Henning made the routine save.
Alliance continued to frustrate their opponent’s attack, restricting their opportunities down the left flank, as NDC’s key forwards had limited touches in the first 45 minutes. NDC’s defence also held strong as they snuffed out Alliance’s counters to keep the first half scoreless.
NDC started the second half with the same control, pinning Alliance into their side of the field and generating chances and set piece opportunities. NDC finally broke through with the opening goal; April Lantaigne swung a corner kick into the box for Ava Greco to nod it in by the far post.
Laura Gosse, Alliance’s captain who had started in the defensive line, moved up to forward to spearhead the attack immediately to chase a goal. NDC stopped everything that came their way until Chan’s equalizer and Chown’s winner.
The reigning champions didn’t go down without a fight as they clawed for goals to send the match into penalties. Jadea Collin slalomed through Alliance’s midfield and down the wing to deliver into the box, but Annabelle couldn’t meet the ball to tie it up, and Alliance won their first major silverware since joining the Women’s Division in 2019.
NDC Ontario finished the 2023 season with the Ron Smale Cup after finishing in first in regular-season standings, and the young squad will look to learn from this experience as they challenge for trophies in the 2024 Women’s Premier Division, L1 Cup, and continue their development on the Canada Women's National Team pathway.
Alliance United will now head to Langley, British Columbia to represent Ontario in League1 Canada’s Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship, facing League1 BC champion Whitecaps FC in the semifinal on August 11.