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Vaughan travel to Simcoe in blockbuster clash during Premier Division opening weekend

By League1 Ontario staff, 03/26/24, 1:00PM EDT

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The 2024 Men’s and Women’s Premier Divisions kick off with some entertaining matchups.

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League1 Ontario heavyweights Vaughan Azzurri and Simcoe County Rovers headline the regular-season opening weekend as they face off in both the Men’s and Women’s Premier Divisions.

The men’s fixture between these sides is a rematch of the 2023 playoff semifinal which was won convincingly by Simcoe, who had achieved a postseason bye after finishing in the top two of the league table. Their regular-season meeting was much tighter with five goals shared between them as Vaughan almost came back from three goals down.

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Premier Division it was the Azzurri who won themselves a playoff bye as Rovers missed out on a postseason spot by three points. A solitary Jotam Chouhan goal proved to be the difference between these teams in 2023, 13 months after Simcoe were drowned out in their inaugural season by Vaughan.

Friday nights return

NDC Ontario, who won the Women’s Premier Division title in their inaugural season in 2022 and reached the final last year, will kick off the women’s season on Friday, April 26 against Guelph United.

NDC defeated Guelph 2-0 in an almost invincible season, only losing to Alliance in the regular season and title decider, and Guelph went on to secure the final spot in this year’s top flight.

Back-to-back soccer

There are two doubleheaders to look out for on the opening weekend.

Saturday, April 27 sees Sigma, who finished ninth last year, open their season at Tim Hortons Field against Scrosoppi, who topped the league standings in 2023. This lunchtime matchup will open the Men’s Premier Division in 2024.

Hamilton United take on Guelph United in the evening at Tim Hortons Field, after Canadian Premier League reigning champions Forge FC host Valour. The two L1ON sides were involved in last-day drama in August as Hamilton secured a 2024 Premier spot, and an injury-time free kick qualified Guelph for the playoffs.

On the Sunday, Blue Devils have themselves a home doubleheader at Sheridan Trafalgar Campus across both Premier Divisions. The men’s team scored three or more goals in six of their first 10 matches last season and open the new campaign entertaining Woodbridge Strikers. Woodbridge have a point to prove in the Premier this season after being elevated from the Championship in the offseason, and were 2-0 victors in this meeting in 2023.

The Blue Devils women’s team were just one of three teams to beat Alliance United last year and will need another endearing performance on the opening weekend if they are to get three points. Their visitors Alliance will be out to set a marker for the entire division as they aim to defend their ‘Champions’ crown.

More big matchups

Alliance United men’s opening game is against ProStars, who shipped five goals in this meeting last year. Although Alliance finished six points off the playoffs in 2023, they will have strong title ambitions in 2024.

Burlington had a revolutionary 2023 to reach the men’s playoffs and book their place in the Premier Division this season. They will be aiming for a similar campaign this year, beginning with a battle against North Toronto Nitros who have done the opposite to the Bayhawks – storming to fourth in the standings in 2022 and falling to 10th a year later.

FC London host Woodbridge Strikers in a battle between two teams looking to add to their L1ON silverware haul. The London side have topped the league standings four times since 2015, winning one playoff final and an L1 Cup, while Woodbridge are the reigning L1 Cup champions and 2021 Premier Division winners.

North Toronto visit North Mississauga in the last Women’s Premier Division game of the opening weekend; a match that the Panthers won 2-0 last season.

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