League 1 BC Takeaways and Power Rankings after two thirds

VANCOUVER, BC – Over a month into the season and just over a month to go. The inaugural League 1 BC campaign is heating up for many teams as they take their final strides to reach the BC Day Championship Final, while one team is already out of the running. 

While there is still a third of the season to play, there are really four teams contending for two spots in the final, and it is quite similar on both the men’s and women’s sides. 

Without further adieu, here are three takeaways from what we’ve seen and trends to keep your eye on. 

Varsity are the clear favourites

If there is any club that could do the double this season and win both leagues, it’s Varsity FC. They’ve had a more manageable schedule but have continued to thrive even as the opponents have gotten more difficult. 

On the women’s side, the UBC-based club trampled over the Whitecaps U19s 3-0. The Whitecaps were rolling through the inaugural season, relying on an NCAA-bound backline and a group of players headlined by 10 Canadian Women’s U17 National Team members — but with the majority of their backline gone on Sunday, they were left with a young squad. 

While they still had the technical skills ad prowess, they were a lot less tuned than they had been with the older group, which showed against Varsity. 

Vanessa Tome celebrates after scoring against Altitude (Ben Steiner)

With Danielle Steer leading the way as an outright striker, Varsity forced their way up the pitch and harnessed skilled wingers to attack down the flanks. At the same time, midfielder Emma Regan, Katalin Tolnai and Sophie Damian control the ball and find attacking spaces. 

Whitecaps midfielder Jeneva Hernandez-Gray scored an own goal to open the day, while Tolnai and UFV’s Simi Lehal scored to complete the 3-0. 

Their fast attacking flair is tough to handle for any team and overwhelmed the Whitecaps on Sunday. However, Varsity has struggled against teams that play a low block and sit back. Looking at their loss to Unity FC and a tight 1-0 last-minute in against Altitude, the Varsity fullbacks can be shut down, and the side struggles when the wide players are eliminated. Still, they’re outright contenders to win the league. 

For the men, it comes down to strength, experience and pedigree. Against Altitude, they showed their prowess on set pieces, particularly with towering defender Joe Zupo and physical midfielder Mario Kovacevic. The pair led Varsity to a 3-0 win, with each goal coming off a corner kick. 

Caleb Clarke (Ben Steiner)

Against the Whitecaps, their experience stood out, as Caleb Clarke had his biggest game of the League 1 season, using his physicality to force his way through the Whitecaps backline en route to a hat trick and a 5-2 Varsity win. Zupo added another goal on the day, and former CPL draft pick Victory Shumbusho added another. 

The men’s team has yet to lose, while the women have one loss. Despite the seldom-dropped points, the Mike Mosher and Jesse Symons sides look to be final, if not championship bound. 

Altitude struggles to an early elimination

The inaugural season of League 1 BC has not gone to plan for Altitude FC on the pitch, as both their men’s and women’s teams were mathematically eliminated after eight of 12 matches. The men have yet to win and only gained 2 points, while the women have a win and a draw. 

While the club has created one of the best gameday experiences in the leagues, has the best kits and gained a substantial local following, the play on the field has not been there for the Faly Basse-coached sides. 

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

On the men’s side, there has been a lack of control in the midfield, and the opposition often dominates them. Out wide, they have found success with Sairoob SAiroob cutting to his right foot, but outside of him, the attacking talents have dried up. 

Meanwhile, for the women, there was an expectation that it may be a rougher season. With a roster primarily made of CCAA-level players from Capilano, there were no doubts they would struggle against U SPORTS opposition. However, there are a lot of bright spots to like, even as they play out the string this season. 

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

Sarah Loewen and Kelsey Fisher have been promising between the sticks. There have been positive moments from MacEwan’s Maya Morell and the UNB sisters duo of Alexandra and Aurora Highes-Goyette. Still, however, dropping close games and their inability to come up in key moments has cost them their season early. 

The club has a lot to build on and has a very good setup heading into the second year of the league, where an expected expanded schedule will keep them in contention for far longer than eight matches. 

Unity FC’s resurgence

It was not an easy start to the season for Unity FC’s programs, but as we reach the two-thirds mark of the season, they are in the conversation for a place in the final. Starting the year with the TSS Rovers and the Whitecaps, simple opponents were not on offer for Unity, but the season has gotten much friendlier down the stretch. 

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

With five matches to go, the men’s and women’s teams sit six points out of the final playoff spot and play teams ranked below them in all but one of their final five matches. However, with a softer schedule and a cohesive unit of players, success is on the horizon for both TWU-based teams. 

On the women’s side, head coach Graham Roxburgh has experimented with experienced centreback Tilly James as a striker, adding a fresh aspect to their attack, and so far it has been working. Additionally, their ability to run the play through TWU graduate Liz Hicks ensures they have some of the finest attacking movements in the league. 

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

While those two experienced U SPORTS players often run the show for the Langley club, fellow TWU Spartan Makenna Dietrich has been invaluable to the club, scoring the opening goal against Rivers FC in a 3-1 win. 

The Spartans women have three straight victories and look as though they have no signs of letting up any time soon. 

On the men’s side, it hasn’t been the electric attacking season that Mike Shearon would have hoped for, but they’re staying in games as they work their way up the standings. On Sunday,  Soren Disabitino scored a magnificent goal on a diving header against Rivers, powering them to a critical 2-0 win. 

There is still a lot of work for both sides, thanks to their slower points haul at the start of the season, but there is much more of a light than a glimmer for their championship hopes to head into the season’s final third. 

Can the TSS Rovers push to a home final?

It seemed a sure bet at the beginning of the season that the TSS Rovers would be one of the stronger sides in League 1 BC. Yet, as the season reaches the final stages, there are no guarantees they will be in the final at their home stadium on Aug. 1. 

The Women’s side in particular is in a tough moment and will have to adjust quickly. Midfielders Mia Pante and Asilin Streck have left for their NCAA commitments, and there are no simple solutions to replace critical players for head coach Chelsey Hanneson. 


TSS visit Altitude FC for the second Ironworker Memorial Darby on Wednesday night, and they will look to take control of the game earlier than they did in an 86th-minute win in the first leg between the two sides. Although a result is paramount, the match also offers the chance to iron out the best roster moving forward. 

While everyone will have to contribute to replacing the attributes lost to the NCAA, lead players such as Queen’s Gaels midfielder Raya Athwal have continued their strong play, and will be relied upon even more. At the same time, speedy super-sub Bella Roque may take on a larger role. 

On the men’s side, expect head coach Will Cromack and his players to keep plugging away and a definitive and organized style of play that has been working. While their play at the back has been calm, the TSS men will need more in attack if they are to take three points off Altitude on Wednesday in their continued push up the table. 

The Rovers have the quality to play in the final even without some of the NCAA players. However, the looming challenge is just how quickly they can adjust and force their way into the top two.

Women’s Power Rankings:

  1. Varsity FC
  2. Unity FC
  3. TSS Rovers FC
  4. Whitecaps FC
  5. Altitude FC
  6. Victoria Highlanders
  7. Rivers FC

Men’s Power Rankings:

  1. Varsity FC
  2. Whitecaps FC
  3. TSS Rovers FC
  4. Unity FC
  5. Victoria Highlanders
  6. Altitude FC
  7. Rivers FC

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