It was a heated affair when Scrosoppi and Blue Devils met in the regular season
The Men’s Premier Division playoff semifinals take place this weekend across Saturday and Sunday, with top-two qualifiers Scrosoppi and Simcoe County Rovers taking on last year’s finalists Blue Devils and Vaughan Azzurri respectively.
Both games will be streamed on the League1 Ontario YouTube channel.
Scrosoppi’s playoff debut
Scrosoppi will be looking to make their first Premier Division Final after being founded in 2020. They finished 12th last season but have had a campaign to remember in 2023, winning 17 games to claim the regular-season trophy and qualify for next year’s Premier Division.
Scrosoppi go into the matchup with a group of fresher players than Blue Devils – who had a midweek quarterfinal against Burlington – and are three games undefeated. Scrosoppi also have the leading goalscorer from the regular season at their disposal – Tomasz Skublak scored 23 times this year.
Two-time champions Blue Devils have goal threats of their own. Their 4-1 win against Burlington in midweek was largely due to a great performance from Adam Czerkawski who netted a hat-trick within 59 minutes. He is the Blue Devils' leading scorer this season with 15 goals, making him the target man that Scrosoppi need to look out for, but midfielder Brandon Duarte has a knack of chipping in with crucial goals.
Adding to the tension, Blue Devils are one of just three teams this season that have defeated Scrosoppi – Duarte’s brace proving the difference in that match. If Blue Devils were to make it to this year's final it would be their third title game in a row after making it in 2021 and 2022 but losing out both times. Is the third time the charm?
Can Simcoe use their home advantage and week-long rest in their favour?
Rovers face the reigning champions
Vaughan Azzurri will be looking for revenge when visiting Simcoe County Rovers after their opponents stole the final playoff bye spot from them with both teams only separated by a singular point at the end of the regular season.
Vaughan have a strong attacking presence; Christopher Campoli is the regular season’s second-highest scorer, while Soji Olatoye and Ryan Robinson contributed goals in the 2-0 win over Guelph United in the midweek quarterfinal, showing everyone there are multiple threats in front of goal. If Vaughan overcome Simcoe this weekend it would be the second year in a row that they have made it to the final, having lifted the title last season, and they could be the first team in League1 Ontario history to win back-to-back playoff championships.
Simcoe County Rovers are also looking to create new milestones in their short history, as a win against Vaughan would put them into the Premier Division Final for the first time. They did win the U21 Reserve Division Final last year – beating none other than Scrosoppi.
In addition to having enjoyed a week’s rest, Rovers come into this game in dominant form with a six-match winning streak, including a 4-2 victory over fellow semifinalists Blue Devils. Simcoe also beat Vaughan 3-2 in their last meeting, and we’ll likely see more goals from them this Sunday as they’ve managed to score at least one goal in every game apart from one this season, their 2-0 loss against Sigma in May.
It’s all to play for.