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Rovers dazzle in front of hometown crowd during Spiritfest

Both the women's and men's teams collect wins during Barrie Soccer Club's annual event
2022-06-08 Rovers women
File photo

This past weekend saw the celebration of Spiritfest at J.C. Massie Field as both the women and men were in action in exciting League 1 play.

The Barrie Soccer Club’s annual Spiritfest Tournament welcomed teams from U13 to U18 from all over North America on June 3 and 4 and many of the participants came to watch the Simcoe County Rovers play.

The women kicked things off versus Tecumseh FC at 4 p.m. and started slowly, going down 1-0 in the seventh minute of the game. Giving up the early goal seemed to motivate the Rovers as they found their footing and equalized in the 22nd minute as Courtney Chochol found the back of the net for her fourth goal in the last two games. Heart-and-soul midfielder Cloey Uddenberg scored a few minutes later to give the Rovers the lead from which they never looked back.

An amazing first-half response was capped as captain Brianne Desa continued her torrid goal-scoring streak when she buried one in the 38th minute, sending the Rovers to halftime with a comfortable 3-1 lead.

The second half saw the Rovers play a more defensive-minded game to ensure victory. Though they conceded a late goal, they managed the game well and won the game 3-2.

Said coach Dave Kelly, “We were pleased with the result, if a little disappointed with our second-half performance. Tecumseh battled and are hard to beat and made it difficult in the end, so we were pleased to secure the three points in front of our fans.”

The men then took the pitch to face Electric City FC in a game that had added importance as it was the first match in the Trent Severn Cup, a unique second-year event that features a combined effort from both the men’s and women’s squads with the trophy being handed to the club with the best head-to-head combined scores. The women play the conclusive match on July 19 at J.C. Massie Field.

In a tightly contested match, there was no margin as both teams tried to get the opening goal of the game. That came in the 68th minute, when Electric City’s Nigel Buckley put one away, giving the Peterborough-based team a 1-0 lead. To their credit, the Rovers did not get down on themselves but pressed hard for the equalizer in front of the hometown fans. They were rewarded in the 83rd minute, when Rovers talisman Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez poked one home in a goalmouth scramble to even things up. The game looked like it was headed for a draw, but a lovely run by No. 8 and excellent delivery into the box saw Benitez-Hernandez score his second of the game in the 90th minute, sealing the win and sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Coach Jason Beckford was pleased with the result but knows the team has more to offer.

“Glad we got the three points as it’s important at this moment in the season to build on. We could have played better, but the boys stuck together and showed character and fight to come back and get the late winner.”

Doneil Henry, one of the Rovers owners and current Canadian national team player, took in the games and was impressed by what he saw on and off the pitch.

“It was great to finally experience a Rovers home match, and to collect six points between the men’s and women’s teams shows we’re headed in the right direction to grow the game in Simcoe County.”

Henry, who has recently been training with the men’s team, went on to add, “I’ve used the opportunity to get to know the group during the week and there’s something to be said about how professional everyone is going about their business on and off the field.”

The men are on the road to Windsor as they face Windsor City FC on June 11 at 4 p.m.

The women play Sunday, June 11 at 6:30 p.m. as they take on North Mississauga FC at J.C. Massie Field.

For more information on the Simcoe County Rovers FC, including schedule details, ticket purchase options and sponsorship opportunities, please visit

Single and group tickets to the match can be purchased by visiting

Be sure to check out the latest episode of Rovers FC TV featuring Cameron DaSilva and Jevontae Layne online at