The 2018 L1 Cup Finals will take place this Saturday August 4 (5 p.m. women's kickoff & 7:30 p.m. men's kickoff) at the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan, featuring a return to the finals from 2017 finalists Woodbridge Strikers and Vaughan Azzurri, and a first date at the big show from Unionville Milliken and Toronto FC III.
"The 2018 L1 Cup competition has provided great drama and entertainment," said League1 Ontario Commissioner, Dino Rossi.
"We expect that the finalists will put on a great show for their fans on Saturday. The L1 Cup Final double-header is always one of the highlights of the League1 Ontario season."
In the women's 2018 L1 Cup final, 2017 finalists Woodbridge Strikers will bring their unbeaten league and Cup form to bear on the year's first final, with memories of their 2017 loss to FC London likely still fresh in their minds.
Woodbridge and Unionville have met already once in 2018 with Woodbridge just squeaking by at home courtesy of a late finish by substitute Christabel Oduro (82'). With Unionville now facing challenging odds to qualify for the playoffs, the 2018 L1 Cup could represent their only shot at silverware.
"Statistically speaking, Woodbridge and Unionville are two very evenly matched sides and that bore itself out when these two teams recently squared off in regular season play," added Rossi.
"Far higher stakes are on the line in the L1 Cup Final so it will be very exciting to see which squad will step up and bring home the hardware."
On the men's side, Vaughan Azzurri will also have revenge on their minds after losing in the 2017 L1 Cup Final to Woodbridge Strikers. The Azzurri are no strangers to the competition, having won the inaugural version in 2014 and again in 2016. With a tough start to their 2018 regular season, and a loss in the 2017 L1 Cup Finals to drive them, Vaughan have a good chance to claiming their third Cup in five years.
Toronto FC III have been the form side in the men's 2018 League1 Ontario season, sitting atop the league standings with a record of 8 - 1 - 1 and a crop of impressive young professional prospects under the stewardship of head coach Danny Dichio. The Junior Reds haven't ever made it to an L1 Cup Final - despite winning the league in 2014 - and will be eager to bring some hardware back to BMO Training Ground.
"The men's L1 Cup Final is going to be very interesting," said Rossi.
"TFC III have impressed enormously this season, in both Cup and regular season competition. They never back down and will give the more experienced Vaughan Azzurri side a serious run for their money."
"However, Azzurri feature a number of perennial League1 All-Stars and have quality, experience and depth at their disposal so we can expect 90 minutes of outstanding football."
Where: Ontario Soccer Centre (7601 Martin Grove Rd., Vaughan)
When: Saturday August 4 - 5 p.m. women's kickoff; 7:30 p.m. men's kickoff
Cost: Tickets for Saturday 2018 L1 Cup Finals are $10 for both matches and tickets can be bought at the gate or through the member clubs
Watch: Online livestream available at league1ontario.com