The 2017 League1 Ontario women’s season continued to showcase the top female talent in the province.
FC London were crowned League1 Ontario women’s champions - the first ever back-to-back champion - after finishing with a 15W-2L-3T record. Leading the way for the two-time winners was leading scorer, 2016 MVP and two-time L1O all-star, Jade Kovacevic.
It is no surprise that Kovacevic scored an untouchable 40 goals in 20 games in 2017, considering her past record-breaking history. Kovacevic sits third all-time in goals with 49 in Ontario College Athletic Association (OCAA) play for Fanshawe College. She also is the school's leading goal scorer, scoring 23 more goals than second-placed Melanie Moulton.
Before leading the line for Fanshawe, Kovacevic played her trade for Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2012. In her freshman year, she finished tied as the schools leading point producer with three goals and six assists and was named to the SEC All-Second and SEC All-Freshman team.
Throughout her career, Kovacevic has appeared for the Canada U-17 team and the U-20 Women’s World Cup team.
Behind league leader, Kovacevic was the North Mississauga Panthers scoring duo of Cassandra Briscoe and Laura Twidle.
Briscoe entered the 2017 campaign with one goal in three games in 2016. She would start this season with one goal in her first six matches, but after earning a more attacking role, she ended up scoring 12 in her last four games - tallying two hat-tricks against Durham United FA on Jul. 8 and Darby FC on Jul. 22.
The Northwestern State University alum has turned into an important veteran presence for her North Mississauga team, especially since she excelled at the NCAA Division I level.
Appearing in 71 career games for the Lady Demons, Briscoe finished her collegiate career with 11 goals and nine assists and was a 2015 All-Southland Conference Second Team member.
Briscoe’s North Miss teammate Twidle finished her first L1O season with 13 goals in 14 matches, which isn’t out of the ordinary when you look at what she produced at the NCAA Division I level for Central Michigan.
A Central Michigan Chippewas member from 2009-12, Twidle is the school's seventh-leading scorer with 18 goals and finished eighth in total points with 44.
Twidle is also a decorated collegiate athlete, being named to the 2009 MAC All-Freshman team, the 2010 MAC All-Conference tournament team, and was apart of the 2010 and 2012 All-MAC First team’s.
Finishing the 2017 year with 12 goals in eight games was 2016 L1O all-star Laura Goose from Durham. Goose is no stranger to the L1O goal scoring leaderboard, adding 12 goals in 14 games in 2016, good enough for second in scoring.
Goose has a connection with North Mississauga’s Twidle, as the two played together for Central Michigan from 2011 to 2012. Goose is also a member of the schools record book, scoring the fifth most goals (21) from 2011-14.
Finishing the year with 11 goals in 11 games and fifth in L1O women’s division goal scoring was Woodbridge Strikers prospect, Nicole Kozlova.
Kozlova entered her first season in L1O scoring on her debut against Goose’s Durham on May. 6 and proved to be the linchpin in Woodbridge’s attack.
A member of the Ukraine U-17 and U-19 team’s, Kozlova had a strong year in 2017. She appeared in three matches for Ukraine’s UEFA U-19 Championship side and represented Team Ontario at the 2017 Canada Games in Winnipeg.
She also earned herself a scholarship to NCAA Division I school Virginia Tech this summer.
Also entering her first L1O season with first-year club West Ottawa SC is striker Arielle Kabangu.
Kabangu took the league by storm after scoring four goals in her first five games in 2017, and finished the campaign off with eight in 18 games, earning herself an L1O all-star spot.
The West Ottawa striker was able to bring her vast experience to the NCAA Division II level, where she became a Saint Leo University legend.
In 72 career games for the Lions, Kabangu put up 66 goals and 21 assists, finishing in the top six in all seven offensive categories.
Kabangu also racked up numerous accolades such as the 2013 and 2016 Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Player and Offensive Player of the Year, the 2013 SSC Freshman of the Year, was an NCAA Division II All-American in 2013, was a member of the First Team All-SSC in 2014 and 2015, and the NSCAA Third Team All-American team in 2014 and 2016.
Rounding out the top seven in L1O women’s scoring is someone familiar to FC London fans and teammate of Kovacevic, Ashley Campbell.
Campbell joined her London teammates in late June and got her first two L1O goals in her sixth game against Vaughan Azzurri on Aug. 2. She would finish the year with eight goals in 15 games.
The former University of Dayton star has allowed the defending L1O women’s champions to have an almost unstoppable front duo with Campbell and Kovacevic. In fact, London are 13W-0L-2T with Campbell in the lineup.
So far, Campbell has been able to provide her new team with the same offensive prowess as she did with her NCAA Division I team, the University of Dayton Flyers.
Throughout her four year stay at Dayton, Campbell finished with 63 goals and 24 assists in 82 matches. Her goal total is the most in school history, while her point total is good enough for second all-time. She also leads Dayton in scoring from 2013-2015
Just like Kabangu and teammate Kovacevic, Campbell has a shelf full of accolades that include Atlantic 10 Offensive player of the Year in 2013 and 2015, an All-Atlantic 10 First-Team award in 2013,’14 and ’15, was a All-Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team member in 2012 and led the Atlantic 10 in goals, shots, points, and game-winning goals in 2013.