With the competition for the League1 Ontario 2017 women's division title looking like it will go the distance, keep an eye on two Matchweek 20 contests that will feature the three remaining contenders.
North Mississauga SC v Vaughan Azzurri @ Hershey Centre, Mississauga (September 9 - 7pm)
Four teams mathematically remain in the women's title hunt, but with ten points and four teams to overhaul and only four matches left - Durham United FA is unlikely to lift the 2017 trophy (as they did in 2015).
Instead, North Mississauga SC top the division with 37 points from 16 matches, followed closely by Vaughan Azzurri with 35 points from 17 matches, and these two top teams in the standings currently will square off at Hershey Centre on Saturday evening.
North Miss' form has been near flawless in 2017, setting the standard for the while division by losing only once in 16 matches, which was back on May 12 against Unionville Milliken SC. The team is currently on an eight-game winning streak, during which they have conceded only four goals and scored 37.
Colleen Beesley (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
In second position, Vaughan Azzurri has done what they have needed to, but have dropped losses to FC London, Toronto Azzurri Blizzard (x2) and Unionville Milliken. The team is on a four match winning streak, however, with 19 goals for and only four against in that period.
Vaughan and North Miss battled to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season, with a late Colleen Beesley strike cancelling out a Laura Twidle opener at McNaughton Turf, Vaughan.
Regardless of the result of this match, both teams face a difficult end of season match pattern.
North Miss will make the long trek to West Ottawa in Matchweek 21, before facing the always difficult Toronto Azzurri Blizzard and the 2016 League1 Ontario champs, FC London, in their last match.
Vaughan Azzurri will take on FC London next weekend at home in McNaughton Turf, Vaughan, before hosting Aurora FC on the final match of their regular season on September 24. With only six points left available in the season following this Matchweek 20 fixture with North Mississauga, and a possible deficit of five points if the match is lost, the Azzurri will know it is a win at all costs scenario.
Key players to watch: With nine goals (including two hat-tricks) in her last seven matches, North Mississauga striker Laura Twidle has shown a goal-scoring touch that is capable of turning matches on their head. 13 goals on the season puts her joint-top scorer in the North Mississauga team, and joint-second in the League1 Ontario Golden Boot race.
A stalwart in the Vaughan Azzurri side after logging minutes in every match this season, Colleen Beesley was on target last time these two teams met and will hope her knack of unlocking the North Miss defense will persist. With four goals in her last three matches, Beesley is showing some late-season goalscoring gold that the Azzurri will need if they are to take all three points.
Laura Twidle (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
FC London v Sanjaxx Lions @ German Canadian Club, London (Sat Sept 9 - 7pm)
Currently third in the League1 Ontario women's division table with 30 points from only 14 matches, defending League1 Ontario champions FC London is well-poised to make their two plus matches in hand count and blaze away to a consecutive title. For this outcome to occur though, London needs to start off with a home win over Sanjaxx Lions.
With only one win in 15 matches, Sanjaxx on paper look like easy opposition for London to start off their end of season title push. But Sanjaxx has proven to be difficult opposition for the top teams, beating a stacked Toronto Azzurri Blizzard on opening day, drawing long-running division leaders Unionville Milliken SC, and dropping a narrow 3-2 result to an in-form North Mississauga team - all while on the road.
FC London has a tremendous home record, only losing one match in two seasons at German Canadian Club, London, but that loss involved a defensive-minded Toronto Azzurri Blizzard side early in the season. A later home draw with a similarly defensive North Mississauga also marred the team's otherwise flawless record. Sanjaxx Lions have shown strong defensive organization in 2017 and could present a difficult problem for a London side that may be anxious knowing they must register a straight run of victories to catch the leaders after dropping points to Toronto Azzurri Blizzard in their last outing.
Jade Kovacevic (Photo: Martin Bazyl)
FC London has the better of recent history in head-to-head competition with Sanjaxx, having taken a 3-0 result at Monarch Park, Toronto back on July 2. London took an early lead in that match, but were held until just after the hour mark before they could nab their insurance goal. London will want to bag this result much sooner.
FC London will also want to put away these three points against the lowest-ranked team in the women's division when considering their end-of-season match pattern.
London faces 2015 champions Durham United FA on Sept 15, current second-place side Vaughan Azzurri on Sept 17, early-season table-toppers Unionville Milliken on Sept 23, and current women's division leaders North Mississauga SC on Sept 30. FC London will end the season with an Oct 6 road-trip to Whitby Soccer Centre to take on Darby FC.
Players to watch: The defending League1 Ontario Golden Boot winner and current Golden Boot leader, FC London's Jade Kovacevic is a player that cannot be looked past when considering the result. Kovacevic currently has 26 goals on the season (21 more than the any other FC London teammate) and has scored in every single match bar two. If Kovacevic is on target, FC London will be very hard to beat.
Julia Wong plays a key role for Sanjaxx Lions, personifying the team's defensive industry and chipping in with key goals too. Wong scored to help Sanjaxx draw the early season leaders Unionville Milliken SC in mid-August and has two goals in her last four matches. If the Lions can score one or two and shut down the London offence, expect Wong to be a big part of it.
Julia Wong (Photo: Martin Bazyl)