L1BC Weekend Preview and Power Rankings

VANCOUVER, BC – From a bright start in rainy May, league 1 BC is down to the final stretch of matches. What was once an opener race for the final has now narrowed down to three, possibly four, teams battling for spots at Swangard Stadium on August 1 and a chance at the first-ever L1BC title. 

On the men’s side, Varsity FC, TSS Rovers and the Vancouver Whitecaps duke it out for a spot in the final, while the women’s division looks all but set to be the Whitecaps are Varsity, barring a miracle run from TSS Rovers. 

This weekend features matchup storylines galore, with the Rovers playing Victoria and Varsity playing against Victoria and the Whitecaps on back-to-back matchdays. For the UBC-based club, it’s a chance to essentially secure their finals berth in both divisions, while both Rovers teams, moreso the women, need the full three points on Vancouver Island. 

Varsity tests depth in a back-to-back on both sides 

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

Varsity FC may be the deepest club from top to bottom in League 1 BC on both sides. With a UBC Thunderbirds-based squad, the women’s team doesn’t lose many players, and the men draw on deep connections with the T-Birds and Vancouver United Hibernian. 

If there is any club that can battle for six points on both sides in back-to-backs, it’s Varsity. 

For head coach Jesse Symons and the women’s team, immense depth will come into play. Debatably, a second-string Varsity team is still better than a Highlanders team, while the best players will likely be needed against the tactically sound Whitecaps. 

Texas’s Emma Regan remains with the team and is bound to feature in one of, if not both, matches, while Symons will have to adjust his tactics without Holly Ward, who is with the Canadian U20 team in preparation for the Women’s U20 World Cup. 

While leading striker Danielle Steer missed last week’s home clash with the Rovers, she is expected to feature this week, while Varsity will likely also play speedy forward Vanessa Tome. In addition, the return of Sophia Fereira and Jacqueline Tyrer last week solidified the defensive side, and those two will likely continue to take on significant minutes this weekend. As a side note, Ferriera’s younger sister, Ava, who is in 11th grade, also joined Varsity last week. 

To replace Ward, look for Tome or Katalin Tolnai to play out wide, or even Steer in a new role. Either way, Ward’s presence will be felt, but so will Varsity’s depth as they take on the Whitecaps and Victoria, two teams at the opposite ends of the standings. 

For the men, expect many of their players to play both matches as they tend to do in U SPORTS. The centre-back pairing of Joe Zupo and Jordano Pinto has worked well for them, and they are fit enough to play both matches. While the back end could play 180 minutes over two days, look for diversity in attacking selections with the likes of Caleb Clarke, Victory Shumbusho, and Sebastian Dzikowski, among others, all sharing minutes this season. 

It won’t be easy for either Varsity FC team to win both matches, but there’s little to bet against one of the top and most consistent sides in League 1 BC. 

Varsity visits the Victoria Highlanders on Saturday with matches at  1:00 and 3:15 before facing the Whitecaps at Ken Woods Field at 1:00 and 3:00

Reworked Juan De Fuca Plate adds intrigue

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

For years, the Juan De Fuca Plate has honoured the top semi-pro team in the province, and with the addition of League 1 BC in men’s and women’s, the trophy has taken on a new meaning. 

While clubs will battle for their respective league titles through the League 1BC Finals, the Juan De Fuca Plate will go to the best regular-season club by points combined from the men’s and women’s sides. 

With this addition, there’s an added level of intrigue for all sides, even though the battle for the top two spots in each division has begun to narrow. 

Currently, Varsity FC leads the combined Plate standings with 40 points. However, that’s only four points ahead of the Whitecaps, who could steal that top spot with a pair of wins against Varsity on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Rovers are in the conversation at 33 points. 

Although there is still the divide between the top clubs and the ones still figuring out their seasons, the trophy adds a new level of cooperation and value to both sides of League 1 BC, truly crowing the best club throughout the season, rather than just a men’s or women’s team. 

TSS Rovers men look to create a gap

(Credit: Ben Steiner)

When the TSS Rovers left the UBC pitch with a 2-1 win against Varsity FC last weekend, they could clearly see a spot in the final. With the championship match at their home pitch at Swangard Stadium, it is integral to the TSS club that one, if not both, their teams are on showcase. Right now, it looks like the men’s team is the best bet, and a win on Sunday at home against Victoria would all but ensure that. 

Erik Edwardson and Jun-Won Choi have been fantastic for the Rovers all season and found success in the reverse fixture against Victoria, something they will look to continue when they welcome the Highlanders to Sunny Swangard. 

Head Coach Will Cromack figured out how to shut down a high-flying Varsity FC side last week, and the Rovers have come into their own in the second half of the season after starting in the middle of the pack. 

The Highlanders aren’t too difficult to neutralize, with most of their attack coming through Kensho Ando and Isaac Koch; meanwhile, the Rovers have shown to be one of the better defensive teams in the league. 

At this point in the season, TSS is playing for a title, while the Highlanders play for pride and U SPORTS prep, making the points invaluable and the focus pinpoint for the home side. The Highlanders will also be playing the back side of a back-to-back after facing Varsity on Saturday. Either way, it should be a fun affair on Boundry Road this Sunday. 


Women’s Power Rankings 

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

Men’s Power Rankings

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

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