League 1 BC Notebook and Power Rankings ahead of penultimate matches

VANCOUVER, BC – The first silverware has been given out, but the League 1 BC titles are still up for grabs. With a men’s and women’s win against the Whitecaps, Varsity FC became the inaugural League 1 BC Juan De Fuca Plate Champions while also clinching their spots in both finals. 

The Juan De Fuca Plate is awarded to the club with the most combined points from the men’s and women’s divisions in League 1 BC. Previously, it was awarded to the best semi-professional men’s side in the province. 

While Varsity clinched that title and spots in the women’s and men’s Championship matches, the TSS Rovers ensured that their men’s team wil play for a title, clinching their place with a win against the Victoria Highlanders. However, the second spot in the women’s final comes down to a battle between the Whitecaps U19s, TSS Rovers, and a suddenly thriving Unity FC. 

The finals are at Swangard Stadium on Aug. 1. 

Let’s look at a few storylines heading into the penultimate matchdays.

Jenna Baxter steps up big time for Varsity women

Varsity FC won’t have NCAA D1 athletes Holly Ward or Emma Regan when they take on the League 1 BC Final, but they likely will have Simon Fraser’s Jenna Baxter, who scored a hat trick and put the team on her back last week against the Whitecaps in a 4-1 win. 

While UBC’s Danielle Steer, Katalin Tolnai and Sophie Damian are constantly attacking threats, Baxter had been solid this season. She came up big with three critical goals against the Whitecaps on the back end of a weekend-to-back match. 

Head coach Jesse Symons ensured to save many of his players throughout the two matches, not forcing many to play a full 180 minutes in less than 24 hours. However, a quick start against the Victoria Highlanders en route to a 2-0 win allowed him to save some of his roster’s energy, and it paid off against a skilled Whitecaps side. 

While Baxter has played regular minutes for Varsity this season, she did not have the instant chemistry as many UBC-based players do. Still, she learned the systems quickly and has thrived as an attacking midfielder throughout nearly every game, none moreso than her performance against the Whitecaps. 

To this point, Holly Ward has been critical for Varsity’s attacking success, but without her in the final, it is positive to see players such as Baxter stepping up. 

All eyes are on Unity FC’s women

After beginning the season with a gruelling schedule, the opponents have lightened up for TWU-based Unity FC, and it might just see them sneak into the final on the women’s side. Head Coach Graham Roxburgh has got the group rolling and has added intriguing tactical shifts such as playing centreback Tilly James as a striker at a point this season. 

(Ben Steiner)

With a 3-2 win against Rivers FC in Kamloops this past weekend, things seem to be shaping up for the Langley side, heading into their final two matches against Victoria and Altitude, two slides they’ve already beaten this season. 

Currently, they sit third, four points behind the Whitecaps, but when comparing the two teams’ schedules and the fact the Whitecaps lost many of their top players to school, there could be a very significant shift in the standings. 

Additionally, if Unity sneaks into the final, the TWU vs UBC U SPORTS rivalry would dip its toe into League 1 BC’s inaugural championship match. 

Critical midweek matches at Swangard for Rovers, Whitecaps

(AFTN Canada)

While the men’s final is already confirmed as Varsity FC vs TSS Rovers, the Rovers men will want to put in a strong performance against a tough Whitecaps team, likely to finish third in the standings. However, while Erik Edwarson’s goalscoring highlights the men’s match, the focus on Wednesday will be on the women, with two sides battling to find that second spot in the final. 

The Rovers sit tied for third on 18 points, while the Whitecaps hold down the last available final spot with 22 points. However, with two matches remaining, both are very much still in the race, along with Unity. 

If the Whitecaps win, or there is a draw, the Rovers are eliminated. If the Rovers win, well, things get interesting. However, if it is a draw, Unity FC could win and catch the Whitecaps. With two matches to go, the standings are very open. 

For TSS Rovers, the must-win game will come down to a depleted group that has seen many of their top payers depart for the NCAA. However, Katie Bishop, Claire Ye, Isabella Muzzolini and Rata Athwal have been standouts and will be relied upon as they continue with the team until the season’s end. 

While the battle on the pitch takes precedence, there are two up-and-coming, bright and competitive coaches on the sidelines as TSS’s Chelsey Hanneson faces Katie Collar of the Whitecaps. Although the points are important on Wednesday, remember the two coaches, there’s a good chance they make it to higher levels in Canadian soccer. 

Women’s Power Rankings: 

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

Men’s Power Rankings: 

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

Leave a Reply