National Signing Day, a day that players ready to graduate from high school this spring sign their university/ college declarations, featured a minimum of 16 League1 women and seven men's players in 2017.
Minimum is indeed accurate, for more League1 players may have also signed declarations, but not all did so at an publicly promoted event put on by their respective clubs.
And, of course, remaining players still have time to mull over their choice. The actual signing deadline for 2017 college/ university commitments is in the summer of 2017, though National Signing Day is a milestone warranting the pomp and flourish accorded by various clubs.
It is, after all, a huge accomplishment in a player's life. Barely one in five players are selected to advance to the college/ University field of play in the NCAA - widely considered the North American pathway for aspiring young professionals.
Representing League1 Ontario were 16 players that have made appearances in the women's division over the past two season.
Leading the pack was the 2016 League1 Ontario Young Player of the Year, Aurora's Sarah Stratigakis, who made a commitment to one of the most recognizable brands in the NCAA game - the University of Michigan Wolverines.
The Canadian U17 and U20 midfielder had a busy 2016, representing her country at both the U17 World Cup in Jordan and the U20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea, and 2017 has also started brightly.
Canadian Women's National Team manager John Herdman has already invited the 17 year old to the WNT camp in the U.S. at end of January, and named her to the February squad for a month filled of special events - the largest being a Bronze Medal Celebration match vs Mexico on February 5th.
Stratigakis' teammate at both Aurora FC and Canada U17 in 2016, goalkeeper Marissa Zucchetto, also declared on National Signing Day for Texas Tech.
Sarah Stratigakis (Photo: Canada Soccer)
Another thirteen women that appeared for the League1 Ontario Woodbridge Striker's squad in 2016, but have since made the switch to new club Toronto Azzurri Blizzard, signed on the dotted line before the February 1st National Signing Day, including:
Michaela Hawthorn (Southeastern Louisiana); Malikae Dayes (University of Maryland); Taylor Johnston (University of Memphis); Emily Simmons (Green Bay Wisconsin); Sophia Borea (University of New Hampshire); Makayla Dayes (University of Maryland); Chiara Brown (University of Memphis); Sarah Owusu (Eastern Kentucky University); Alyssa Julien (Eastern Kentucky University); Teniola Odetoyinbo (York University – Schulich Business School); Katya Tarasoff (University of Guelph); Jada Ellis (Bradford University) and Ashlee Azisuddin (McMaster University).
Additionally, three other players at Toronto Azzurri Blizzard made commitments at the same ceremony, and will play for the team in their inaugural 2017 season.
The three players and their respective commitments are: Dominika Philip (Humber College), Sam Murphy (University of Memphis) and Gabi Paupst (Bradford University).
Toronto Azzurri Blizzard National Signing Day 2017
2016 League1 Ontario Women's Champions, FC London, had starting centre-back Morgan Blair sign for Evansville University.
2015 League1 Ontario Women's Champions, Durham United FA, had one player from their 2016 side make a commitment on National Signing Day; Harper Bennett made a commitment to Fairleigh Dickinson University.
A new League1 club for 2017, Unionville-Milliken also had some signings to announce for National Signing Day. League1 fans will be hoping to see the three players line-up for the team in the summer ahead, not least as the three are regulars in the Canada U17 squad.
The group is comprised of Samantha Chang (South Carolina), Kennedy Faulknor (UCLA) and Shana Flynn (UCLA).
Kennedy Faulknor (Canada U17/ UCLA/ Unionville-Milliken)
On the men's side, just over half a dozen League1 players made their post-secondary commitments.
After three first round draft picks at the MLS SuperDraft in the last three years for Sigma's League1 Ontario players, the academy has earned the respect of many college scouts and programs in the States. By Signing Day, Sigma had three players with commitments south of the border.
Faisal Ghaffur (Akron), Sean Merrick (Holy Cross) and Simon Triantafillou (Syracuse) were all valuable players for the west division powerhouse in the past couple years, and will look to follow in the footsteps of Cyle Larin, Richie Laryea and Kwame Awuah.
Toronto FC III is also sending three League1 regulars to American schools: goalkeeper Brogan Engbers (Liberty University), Glenn Muenkat (Pittsburgh) and Rocco Romeo (Michigan State).
Finally, 2016 League1 Ontario Men's Division champions, Vaughan Azzurri, have one grad heading to the deep south: Aidan O'Hara is off to University of Alabama Birmingham.
Brogan Engbers (Liberty University/ Toronto FC III)