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Results and details of the Sunday November 12, 2017 League 1 Ontario Awards Dinner held at the Fontana Primavera Event Centre in Vaughan Ontario at 12:30pm.
I estimated there were fourteen tables with ten chairs per table. There were empty seats so I’d go with about one hundred in attendance. That would be the problem with the dinner in that there weren’t many players there with other commitments. After the meal the awards started to be handed out at about 1:50pm.
Ari Soroka (the stadium announcer at Oakville Blue Devils home games) was the MC of the event. He got procedures started by blowing a referee’s whistle. It worked bringing the crowd to silence. He had a recurring joke about being scheduled to also do a bar mitzvah to keep procedures moving along.
There wasn’t really any suspense because the ‘winners’ were announced two per day during the week to make maximize news headlines. Our programs even listed the winners.
First awards were to the Women’s and Men’s All Stars–1st, 2nd, and 3rdteams. There were eleven members on the first and second teams and eighteen men and thirteen women on the third team. This ensured that every team had at least one member. One telling point was that the all stars that came to the front to get a framed certificate there were only eleven women and twelve men.
Next up was the award for Coach of the Year as presented by Gary Miller, the OSA Technical Director. Jhon Ardilla from North Mississauga Panthers won for the Women. He was the only recipient who gave a thank-you speech. Duncan Wilde of Oakville Blue Devils was named Coach of the Year for the Men. He wasn’t in attendance as he was leading three of the club’s youth teams in a tournament in the USA. Accepting his award was OBD’s goalkeeping coach Glen McNamara.
Next up was the Fair Play Award. This was awarded for the first time this year and goes to the player who “consistently demonstrated exemplary behaviour on the pitch in a manner that is in keeping with the spirit of FIFA’s Fair Play standards, as well as boasting an excellent disciplinary record. Additionally, they were key contributors to their teams during the 2017 season”. Winner for the women was Cathryn ‘Cat’ Rogers from North Mississauga Panthers (coach Jhon Ardilla accepted). For the men it was Stefan Nikolic from Sanjaxx Lions (also not there). There were also Fair Play Awards for the team as a whole. Ottawa South United Force won for the Men’s Division and Aurora FC won for the women. Club official David
Diplacido accepted for Aurora.
Golden Boot Winners (presented by TFC exec/TSN broadcaster Steven Caldwell were awarded to Jade Kovacevic for FC London for the women. She scored 40 goals during the season plus 5 more in Cup play. Two North Mississauga players tied for second in the scoring race with 13 goals each. Jade was one of my favourites from Toronto Lady Lynx days. I asked her after the ceremonies whether she’d be back with the club. She answered she was looking at possibly playing in Europe but for now she’s working full time at the FC London Academy.
For the men, Golden Boot Winner was Jarek Whiteman of Vaughan Azzurri. He scored 29 goals in league play. Four players tied for second place at 17 goals each!
Goalkeeper of the Year (presented by Chris Williams of Soccer Express) were Emily Gillet for FC London (for Women) and Quillan Roberts of Woodbridge Strikers (for the Men’s Division). Woodbridge manager John Scarlato accepted for Roberts.
Defender of the Year (presented by Ron Smale president of the Ontario Soccer Association) winner was Diamond Simpson of Toronto Azzurri Blizzard (for women) and Johnny Grant of Sigma FC (for men).
Young Player of the Year (presented by Krista Cellucci of Soccer Express) was Samantha Chang from Unionville Milliken (for women) and Cyrus Rollocks from Toronto FC III (for men). Rollocks was one of the players who scored 17 goals. Last year’s winner was also from TFC III–that is Kota Sakurai who moved up to Toronto FC II and is currently at Princeton University in New Jersey USA.
MVP of the League winners were Jade Kovacevic of FC London (presented by members of the Peel Regional police) and Dylan Carreiro of Woodbridge Strikers (presented by Dino Rossi) and accepted by Woodbridge VP Adam Candido. Carreiro was away with York University playing at the U-Sports soccer championships.
Most interesting moment was the method of awarding the Goal of the Year. These choices were posted on-line for fans to vote. There were something like 15 or 20 choices for men’s and women’s from a highlight reel of each category. I wondered how Jade Kovacevic would win as she had two or three of the nominees on the women’s side–would she split the vote or was voting for her specific enough? Fans had to register with Sportsengine website than they were allowed to vote just once. Now being the internet with some determination and a lot of time on your hands you could create multiple accounts and vote again! I wasn’tpaying too much attention to the vote count until a few days before the final tally but noticed that some candidates had zero or one vote and someone had something like 450. I was at the table at the dinner with Dino Rossi and some league officials and heard the inside scoop. The ‘winner’ had climbed to over 2000 votes when the voting ended at midnight Saturday! Whether it was a company doing this (a service like this can be bought) or what I also heard was overseas votes from the leading candidate’s parent’s country of Eritea (in eastern Africa) and a local television station in the home country wanted to interview him.I’ve looked up a news story on his team’s website and it appears he is of Afghan descent. What was arranged at the beginning of today was thetop three vote getters would be the ‘finalists’ and the winner would bechosen by a vote of all in attendance at today’s dinner. Hmmm, a mix of players, team officials and league executives–sounds like the method a lot of leagues use.
We were shown a compacted highlight reel with just the three finalists from the women’s and men’s divisions and had little chits of paper to vote for our favourite. League execs collected the ballots and counted them as we finished dessert.
Team Championships were run through quickly. FC London won both the Women’s League Championship and the Women’s League Cup. Woodbridge Strikers won the Men’s League Cup and Oakville Blue Devils won the Men’s League Championship (team captain Taylor McNamara accepted the award).
Ok now the winner of Goal of the Year: For the women it was Alessia Mattucci of Vaughan Azzurri. It was a freekick from the edge of the box but along the end line and she curled it around the goalie into the topcorner on the far side. My favourite of the three finalists.
Men’s Goal of the Year was Ameen Majtaba of North Mississauga Panthers.It was from a long throw-in that a defender headed away from the box and Majtaba with the ball behind him executed a bicycle kick from 15 yards into the far corner of the net. Now the strangest thing was I was at that game on September 16th North Mississauga vs FC London and in my report (and I’ll quote myself) said “That bicycle kick goal by Ameen must be considered a candidate if not the winner for Goal of the Year!” I looked that up on my phone before the finalists and showed itto Dino Rossi and NMP head coach Sam Medeiros. Holy Amazing Kreskin! And for those too young to know who he is, I’m a fan of Penn & Teller so now would be a good time to ask for a card trick I will perform a few years from now…”Sir, is your card the eight of clubs?”
Link to that original game report: http://www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com/reports17/17l1o246.htm
To finish the afternoon L1O Commissioner Dino Rossi gave a short speech. He thanked the leadership in the Ontario Socccer Association, the grassroots organizers, and Canadian Soccer Association most importantly for expanding the Canadian Championship to include for the first time the winner of the L1O league championship (Oakville Blue Devils) a spot in the Canadian Championship. He thanked Toronto FC of MLS for showing (by bringing in the fans) that soccer is popular enough to support a Canadian Premier League. He noted that three former L1O players are playing in the USL championship game tomorrow. Mark Anthony Kaye (TFC Academy 2014), Greg Ranjitsingh (Sigma FC 2014) of Louisville City and Mark Anthony Gonzalez of Swope Park Rangers (Sigma FC 2014). He even got down to thanking me and put me on the spot for how many games I’d been to this year. “63” I said.
Ron Smale from the Ontario Soccer Association discussed working with the Quebec counterparts discussing more interprovincial play. The OSA is proud of L1O accomplishments and community work.
MC Ari Soroka blew his referee’s whistle to end the meeting after getting in one more continueing joke about the non-existant category ‘Announcer of the Year’.
I’ve only posted pictures of the winners who were there to accept their awards.