2017 League1 Ontario Women's Mid-Season All-Stars
Technical Staff - Bill Markos (Unionville Milliken SC); Kwame Telemanque (West Ottawa SC); Mike Marcoccia (FC London); Glenn Faulknor (Unionville Milliken SC);
GK - Taylor Grant (Vaughan Azzurri); Patricia Koutoulas (Aurora FC)
DF - Kira Bertrand (North Mississauga SC); Tamara Brown (Durham United FA); Vanessa Gilles (West Ottawa SC); Diamond Simpson (Toronto Azzurri Blizzard); Chrissie White (North Mississauga SC); Maddie Iozzi (Durham United FA)
MF - Sarah Stratigakis (Aurora FC); Sarah Wong (Vaughan Azzurri); Claudia Piazza (Vaughan Azzurri); Julia Wong (Sanjaxx Lions); Victoria Pickett (Aurora FC); Taylor Potts (Durham United FA)
FW - Jade Kovacevic (FC London); Arielle Kabangu (West Ottawa SC); Lauryn Arruda (Darby FC); Ashley Campbell (FC London)
Unavailable - Marissa Zucchetto (Unionville Milliken SC); Julia Benatti (FC London); Meghan Scott (FC London); Natasha Klasios (Unionville Milliken SC); Lauren Raimondo (Woodbridge Strikers)
(Photo: Martin Bazyl)
The 2017 League1 Ontario Women’s All-Star match takes place Tuesday July 25 (7:30 p.m) at the Ontario Soccer Centre and will feature the best of League1 Ontario's female players versus the 2017 Team Ontario squad that will be heading to Winnipeg for the 2017 Canada Games at the end of July.
This match will feature the best players Ontario has to offer, including at least 15 current and former Canadian national youth and senior players between the two squads.
"The chance to take on Ontario's Canada Summer Games team was an opportunity we couldn't pass up," said League1 Ontario commissioner Dino Rossi.
"We see this as a win win situation. We get to showcase nearly 40 of Ontario's top female players while giving Ontario's Canada Games team a very good test before departing for this big tournament in Manitoba."
“League1's women's division has quickly established itself as the top level of women's soccer in the province, and very likely, the top level in Canada. We are very pleased with the quality of the young players coming up through the league and making important contributions."
Madeline Iozzi (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Team Ontario will be lead by head coach and former Canadian international goalkeeper, Bryan Rosenfeld.
"What I see is an opportunity for our Canada Games squad to get quality competition prior to the Canada Games," said Rosenfeld.
"No better than playing in our women's number one league in the province through League1."
The L1O team will look to use their wealth of experience at the international and collegiate level to gain the upper hand over their opponents.
Combined, L1O will feature eight former and current NCAA Division I members, two former NCAA Division II players, four that have played at the CIS level and one from the CCAA (Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association).
The L1O squad has ten current and former Canadian internationals that have played in FIFA U20 and U17 Womens World Cups, CONCACAF U17 Womens Championships and the 2015 Pan Am Games.
In goal, the League1 All-Stars will have former Jamaica U20 goalie Taylor Grant (Vaughan Azzurri) and Canadian U20 goalie Patricia Koutoulous (Aurora FC).
The international experience doesn't stop there. In the backfield, three out of the six defenders selected have played on the international stage. Players like Diamond Simpson (Toronto Azzurri Blizzard/ Canada Women's Senior Team), Kira Bertrand (North Mississauga Panthers/ Dominica Senior Team) and Maddie Iozzi (Durham United FA/ Canada U17) will look to take what they learned while playing internationally and use it to lead in this all-star match.
2017 League1 Ontario Women's Mid-Season All-Stars
The midfield duo of Aurora's Sarah Stratigakis and Victoria Pickett will prove to be a tough task for the Canada Games squad. Both Stratigakis and Pickett have represented Canada at the U17 and U20 levels, and were each a part of the 2015 CONCACAF U17 Womens Championship team that won silver, and the FIFA U20 Womens World Cup squad this past November.
Not to be outdone, the forward partnership of FC London’s Jade Kovacevic and Ashley Campbell will make for an interesting match.
Kovacevic has been able to dominate the L1O womens division ever since her side joined the league in 2016.
"She is a very dynamic player, a proven goal scorer," said Rosenfeld, who coached Kovacevic while she was with the U17 Canadian team.
Her goal scoring ability was awarded last year when she took home the 2016 League1 Ontario golden boot after scoring a league high 26 goals. Kovacevic has also dominated at the collegiate level, breaking Fanshawe College's female scoring record for goals in a season and is their all-time female leading scorer with 49 goals and counting. She also broke the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) single season scoring record in 2015-16 with 26 goals.
As for her FC London teammate, Campbell has also represented the Canadian U20 team and has broken school records while at the University of Dayton. In her senior year with the Dayton Flyers, Campbell broke the record for career goals for a female player after she scored 63 goals in 82 games played.
On the sideline, L1O will have Unionville’s Bill Markos and Glen Faulknor, West Ottawa's Kwame Telemaque and FC London’s Michael Marcoccia as their technical staff.
Jade Kovacevic (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
Even though they are up against a tough task, don't count out the Canada Games squad.
Prior to announcing his final roster, Rosenfeld mentioned that he and his staff ran a screening process starting in 2016. He then ran a trial period in January 2016 to March, and put those players up against Quebec this past March for a three game series.
Of the 18 selected players, 11 of them are youth internationals. Not to forget that another 11 are also on L1O rosters in 2017.
With players representing nations like Canada, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Ghana and Sweden, their international experience will be key when up against older opponents.
Leading the way is Canadian U20 player and Unionville Milliken SC captain Samantha Chang. In her first season in L1O, Chang has proved to be a solid central midfielder, who can dictate her teams play and can push forward when needed.
When asked how important Chang can be in a match, Rossi mentioned that, "Samantha was voted a mid-season First Team League1 All Star and would have been playing for our side if she wasn't a part of Team Ontario."
Up front, Vaughan Azzurri striker and Poland U17 player Anna Kowalczyk can prove to be a key factor when goals are needed. While representing Poland at the UEFA U17 Womens Championship, Kowalczyk scored three goals in five matches.
"I think at the end of the day we will be able to live with the competition," said Rosenfeld.
"We don’t have a lot of time to prepare, and neither does the League1 team. We will have a little more time together obviously with camp prior to [the match], but playing against experienced players always brings challenges for our younger players."
(Photo: Martin Bazyl)