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Simcoe County Rovers crowned League1 Ontario champions

Team beat Scrosoppi FC in thrilling final at Ontario Soccer Centre, will go on to play in Canadian championship

In a final to remember the Simcoe County Rovers won their first ever Men’s Premier Division Title in just their second season as a club last night at the Ontario Soccer Centre in front of a packed house. The team beat Scrosoppi FC 4-2 in a thrilling encounter and will represent League 1 Ontario in the Canadian Championship next spring.

The Rovers came into the match on a high, having won five of their last matches on the road securing second spot in the League and a bye to into the semi finals at home in Barrie. The team dispatched defending champions Vaughan in front of a raucous home crowd to secure their spot in the finals.

As they have all season long, the Rovers started the match with great energy and intensity putting Scrosoppi on their heels as soon as soon as the opening whistle blew. Striker Jevontae Layne picked off an errant pass and put a perfect ball onto the foot of winger Shawn Claud-Lawson who tapped it in from close range to stake the Rovers to a 1-0 lead.

The Rovers struck again in the 9th minute as dynamic midfielder Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez won the ball in a one vs. one battle with a Scrosoppi defender and his brilliant cut back was converted clinically by midfielder Paul Karagianakos who continued his fine run of form with the cool finish.

The Rovers continued to press the play and dominated possession with speedy winger Ijah Halley coming close to scoring when he hammered the ball into the side netting.

Scrosoppi settled down and while they didn’t overly test goalkeeper Baj Maan they slowly gained confidence at the 30-minute mark and put the Rovers under pressure. They broke through right before half as Omari Cotterell gave his team a much-needed boost of confidence when he found the bottom corner of the net after being left unmarked by the Rovers. The half ended with a 2-1 Rovers lead with 45 minutes left to play.

Scrosoppi started the second half with momentum and tried desperately to equalize. Rovers goalie Baj Maan was forced to make two big saves, one after the other keeping his team in the game as they tried to find their footing. The Rovers struggled to maintain the ball until Orlendis Benetiz-Hernandez as he has done all season long drove into the box and forced a Scrosoppi defender to pull him down drawing a penalty kick for his efforts. Striker Jevontae Layne stepped to the spot and drove a powerful shot past goalie Andreas Vaikla to make it 3-1 Rovers in the 67th minute.

Action came fast and furiously, as Scrosoppi opened their game up doing everything they could to score. Maan made a great save on a vicious free kick strike by Alexander Zis and the Rovers went down a man in the 76th minute as defender Cameron Da Silva was shown a straight red card for his interaction with a Scrosoppi player. Shortly after Scrosoppi trigger man Thomasz Skublak made it a 3-2 game when he scored in the 83rd minute to keep the pressure on the Rovers.

Winger Shawn Claud-Lawson found substitute Gabriel Boakye streaking down the right-hand side and Boakye sent a cross into the box that Jevontae Layne latched on to at the back post to score his second of the game and seal the deal for the Rovers in the 87th minute. To their credit Scrosoppi continued to fight, forcing Maan to make a couple of saves in extra time before the referee blew the final whistle.

Pandemonium ensued as the pro Rovers audience rushed the field to congratulate their champions and celebrate with the players and ownership group.

“Fantastic achievement from everybody involved with the club,” said Coach Jason Beckford. “Players, coaching staff, owners, volunteers and our fans have made a huge contribution to our success. Hopefully we will continue toto be a breeding ground for developing players who want to be professionals. We’ve established an environment and culture that has proven to work in just two seasons!”

“I could single our individual players but that’s not my style”, Beckford went on to add. Team first, individuals second. However, I have to say to watch the development of this group from losing to Sigma and Woodbridge early in the season to what t they have just produced is the reason you coach!” “Hopefully, these boys will get the opportunity to ply their trade at the next level in the months to come. What a season!”

The Rovers finish the season having won 12 of their last 13 games to cap an amazing second season. As League 1 Ontario Champions they will play in the Canadian Championship, an annual tournament played by Canadian professional teams. The winner is awarded the Voyageurs Cup and a berth in CONCACAF Champions Cup. The Canadian Championship is contested by Canadian teams in the MLS, CPL teams and the champions of League 1 Ontario, League 1 British Columbia and League 1 Quebec.

President, Co-Owner and Men’s Technical Director Founder Julian de Guzman was thrilled with the performance and the result. “An amazing accomplishment made possible by top class people who believe the game can grow and really enjoyed moments like we witnessed tonight. The fans were incredible and the group on the field, from staff to players, certainly embraced the professional environment and used it to their advantage. Soccer is now officially born in Simcoe County at one of the highest levels in the country and it’s only the beginning of more wonderful things to come. I couldn’t be any happier and am so pleased and thankful for achieving this milestone.”

For more information on the Simcoe County Rovers FC, including 2024, ticket purchase options and sponsorship opportunities,  visit