Jevontae Layne scored two goals as Simcoe County Rovers defeated regular-season champions Scrosoppi 4-2 in the Men’s Premier Division Final at Ontario Soccer Centre.
Shawn Claud-Lawson and Paul Karagianakos both netted for Simcoe within the first 10 minutes, only for Omari Cotterell clawing one back for Scrosoppi before the break. Layne’s precise spot-kick then restored the Rovers’ lead after the hour mark, and Tomasz Skublak’s 83rd-minute strike set up a grand-stand finish until Layne volleyed home his second.
The result meant Simcoe were crowned 2023 Men’s Premier Division champions in just their second season as a club after making the playoffs last year. They will also play in the Canadian Championship in Spring.
Backed by a great support from Barrie, Simcoe caught Scrosoppi off guard early on with their energetic press, as Layne picked off Joshua Parades and squared it to Claud-Lawson who tapped in from close range.
They had their second in the ninth minute as Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez won the ball against Luke Rankin and his cut-back was converted by Karagianakos. The Rovers then continued to dominate all over the park and Ijah Halley almost made it three but smashed the ball into the side-netting.
Scrosoppi were beginning to find their groove after half an hour but struggled to test Baj Maan in the Simcoe goal. Paredes’ curling effort soared over the bar, and Cotterell could only direct Alexander Zis’ corner onto the post, before Khody Ellis missed from close range.
Yet John Yacou’s side had proven in the regular season that they can come back from a two-goal deficit, beating Sigma 3-2 on July 23 with Skublak starting the comeback in the 41st minute. This time it was Cotterell who gave Scrosoppi a lifeline before the interval, as he received the ball unmarked on the left side of the box and found the bottom corner for his second goal of the campaign.
Jevontae Layne netted a brace
Their momentum continued after the break as Simcoe skipper Justin Earle had to intercept Ellis’ shot that was bound for an open net with Maan out of position.
Maan was then called into action twice in quick succession to keep Simcoe ahead, first reacting quickly to Zis’ deflected free-kick before producing a full-stretched diving save to push a distance shot onto the post.
Simcoe barely had a glimmer in front of goal in the second half until Benitez-Hernandez’s jinxing run forced a mis-timed lunge from Victor Gallo in the area, and Layne found the top corner from the spot.
With action coming thick and fast, Zis stung the diving hands of Maan with a low free-kick, and Cameron DaSilva was then shown a straight red after pulling Ellis’ hair in a challenge. A back-pedalling Maan could only parry a looping shot to the feet of Skublak who, after mis-hitting his first shot, found the roof of the net with the second, making the score 3-2 with seven minutes and stoppage time remaining.
Then a switch of play from Claud-Lawson sent Simcoe substitute Gabriel Boakye free down the right, and his lifted cross was converted at the back post by Layne to restore their two-goal lead, before Maan stepped up again to deny Danny Medeiros from close range in injury time.
Simcoe end the season having won 12 of their last 13 games and will bid to retain their crown in a 2024 Premier Division that will feature the top 12 teams from this campaign, as L1O introduces promotion and relegation.