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Thursday night action to kick off Championship Division

By League1 Ontario staff, 03/26/24, 9:58AM EDT

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The new League1 Ontario second tier begins its inaugural season at Ron Joyce Stadium.

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Hamilton United’s women’s team host the first-ever League1 Ontario Championship Division match as they welcome BVB IA Waterloo to Ron Joyce Stadium on Thursday, April 25.

League1 Ontario is split into three divisions this season with the men’s and women’s teams that finished in the bottom half of the Road to 2024 standings now vying for Championship Division silverware and promotion to the Premier Division.

Waterloo, who finished 15th in those Road to 2024 standings, were 5-1 victors in their encounter with Hamilton last season – a much more one-sided affair than the 1-1 tie they played out in 2022.

Returning for the first time since that season are Pickering, who open their Women’s Championship campaign against ProStars on Friday, April 26. Pickering’s men’s team then take on BVB IA Waterloo in their first Championship battle on the Saturday.

Inaugural Men’s Division winners TFC Academy will also return to L1ON regular-season action for the first time since 2018 after being announced as a Championship Division expansion team on March 23. They visit Darby in the opening game of the division on April 26.

It’s also a milestone weekend for Rush Canada and Scrosoppi who both make their senior women’s debut in League1 Ontario, visiting Tecumseh United and Unionville Milliken respectively. Rush won the Women’s U19 Fall Reserve Division title in November and could cause some upsets this season, while Scrosoppi will be taking inspiration from a successful 2023 campaign by their men’s counterparts.

Plenty to play for

North Mississauga won a tight game against St Catharines Roma Wolves last year, and they meet under the Friday night lights in the Men’s Championship Division.

Windsor City then visit FC London on the Saturday in a match between two teams that finished just one point apart in the Road to 2024 standings and treated fans to a five-goal thriller last season, with Windsor winning it in the 85th minute.

The final Men’s Championship game of the weekend features Unionville Milliken and Master’s FA, who ended 2023 second and third from bottom in the regular-season campaign. Will either of these sides push on up the table, or be battling to avoid the dreaded relegation playoff game?

In the Women’s Championship Division, the last-placed side will be automatically relegated to the League2 Division, and the opening-weekend game between Burlington and Darby could have major consequences come the end of the season. Both sides finished in the bottom four of the Premier Division last year, aiming to turn around their fortunes in 2024.

Let us know what games you are looking forward to in the opening weekend by using #L1ONSteppingUp on social media.