SIMCOE COUNTY ROVERS
Summer is heating up and the month of July is a crucial one for both the Rovers women’s and men’s teams as they try to secure their spots for League 1 Premier League status next season.
On July 9, the Simcoe County Rovers hosted a highly anticipated double header at J.C. Massie Field. A boisterous and supportive crowd of approximately 800 excited fans, including Attorney General and Member of the Provincial Parliament for Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte, Doug Downey, packed the stands on a beautiful day to watch the teams play on Military Appreciation Night.
The Simcoe County Rovers women’s soccer team picked up a much-needed win and a crucial three points while the men delivered a statement win and a message to the league, beating defending League 1 champions Vaughn, 3-2.
With the wins, both the men’s and women’s secured League 1 Premier League status for the upcoming 2024 season.
Coming off a tough 2-0 away loss to the North Toronto Nitro’s last Wednesday, the women took to the pitch with determination, patience and purpose against a defense-oriented Unionville Milliken team that proved very difficult to break down.
While the Rovers dominated possession, they could not unlock Unionville’s stingy defense in the first 45 minutes and the game was tied 0-0 at halftime. The Rovers spent the majority of the second half in Unionville’s end and the breakthrough finally came in the 81st minute when Adriane Devlin slotted one home to give the Rovers a 1-0 lead, securing the win and the three points.
Coach Dave Kelly was excited about securing League 1 Premier League status next season.
“We’re delighted to have achieved our first objective for the season and securing League 1 football next season. This club needs to be competing at the highest level possible, so mission accomplished,” he said.
In terms of the 1-0-win, Coach Kelly stated: “Clearly, we dominated for 90 minutes, but we had to be very patient and rely on our game changers to come on and impact the game. Great goal by Adriane Devlin today as we look to secure a playoff position at the end of the season.”
The men took to the pitch Sunday evening in one of the marquee matches of the season. The “400” Darby was a highly anticipated affair between two teams vying for league supremacy.
Like their previous game, the Rovers came out focused from the start, attacking Vaughn from the opening whistle.
Ijah Halley collected a beautiful chip floated over the Vaughn defense by midfielder Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez and finished with a lovely half volley to give the Rovers a 1-0 lead just five minutes into the match.
The Rovers struck four minutes later when left back Cameron DaSilva put a cross into the box that landed at the feet of Shaun Claude Lawson who made no mistake putting the ball past a diving keeper to give the Rovers a 2-0 lead.
The game was a physical and intense affair, and the referee was kept busy with multiple fouls being committed by both teams.
The Rovers found themselves down a man in the 28th minute when Ijah Halley was red carded and sent off. Playing with 10 men, the Rovers continued to press, with striker Jevonte Layne putting in an excellent effort to challenge the Vaughn defenders.
Rovers struck again in the 35th minute as Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez scored a beautiful goal from the right flank when he cut back against the grain and fired a left-footed strike past the keeper to make it 3-0.
To their credit Vaughn didn’t hang their heads. They quickly struck back with a goal of their own in the 38th minute and the half ended with the Rovers up 3-1.
The Rovers came out for the second half knowing they would have to withstand sustained Vaughn pressure and hold firm to win the match There was no margin for a Rovers error in a very tightly contested half, as there was back-and-forth, consistent action from both ends of the pitch.
Vaughn made it a game, scoring a 70th minute goal to make it 3-2, but the Rovers locked it down and were able to score the win and a crucial three points in the standings.
In the second half, the Rovers continued to dominate possession in the opponent’s end and remained very strong defensively.
Rovers talisman Orlendis Benitez-Hernandez slotted home his 11th goal of the season in the 52nd minute which helped secure the win and a crucial three points for the hometown team.
Coach Jason Beckford was pleased with the win, but knows the team needs to remain focused moving forward.
“It was a great result for everyone involved with the club. Vaughan are the standard bearers, and it was very good psychologically for the belief of the players," he said. "However, we’ve moved on from that game and are looking forward to the next one versus Scrosoppi.
"On behalf of the players and coaching staff, we wanted to let our appreciation known to all the fans and people who came to get behind the team. Hopefully, we have more days like that to come in the not-too-distant future.”
Simcoe County Rovers president and founder Julian De Guzman was excited about the overall performance by both the women’s and men’s teams and the atmosphere at J.C. Massie Field during the doubleheader.
“It’s a massive achievement for the club," said De Guzman, "and only possible through the determination of the players and the people at the club who work so hard to support them.
“Both our men’s and women’s teams clinched spots in the League 1 Premier division for the upcoming 2024 season, and we had a season-high attendance for our match-day doubleheader. A big thank-you to our volunteers and shout out to our amazing supporters.”
The women are on the road to play Pro Stars at Terry Fox Stadium on July 12 at 8 p.m. and then return to J.C. Massie Field on July 16 to face St. Catharines Wolves Roma at 6:30 p.m. The men travel to Ontario Soccer Association to face Scrosoppi FC on July 15 at 6 p.m.
For more information on the Simcoe County Rovers FC, including schedule details, ticket purchase options and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.roversfc.ca. Single and group tickets to the match can be purchased by visiting www.roversfc.ca.
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