By Dan Plouffe
It has the makings of an historic weekend for local soccer, with a pile of big matches set to be played on Ottawa pitches.
First up is the highest-profile contest of the bunch, when Ottawa’s Vanessa Gilles and the Canadian women’s soccer team play their first game on Canadian soil since winning Olympic gold in Tokyo, Saturday at 3 p.m. at TD Place stadium.
“For me, it’s kind of a full circle moment,” Gilles said during a media conference call earlier this week. “Especially in front of friends and family, as well, it’s just kind of a dream come true with the gold medal and a game at home.”
It wasn’t so long ago that a teenaged Gilles, early in her transition from tennis to soccer, was being visited by Christine Sinclair and friends while she was at Louis-Riel high school.
Back then, Gilles was part of a groundbreaking group that got to celebrate Ottawa’s first provincial youth soccer league east division title with FC Capital United (now Ottawa TFC).
Years later, local soccer teams are routinely bringing home a couple provincial crowns each year, but there has almost never certainly been a day where three clubs can clinch Ontario titles on the same day in Ottawa. Sunday will offer that chance.
OSU U14 Girls have OPDL title in the bag
The Ottawa South United Force have effectively already wrapped up their Ontario Provincial Development League under-14 girls’ championship – they’d have to lose by 48 goals to Vaughan in their season finale at 11:15 a.m. in Manotick to drop out of 1st.
OSU has blasted their opponents by a combined 84-8 margin in their 12-win, 1-loss season, including a 7-0 win in the second week over Markham, who sit 3 points back in the standings.
Ottawa TFC – who began with 3 losses and a tie before winning 9 in a row – were the only ones to deal OSU a loss this season.
Annabelle Chukwu is dominating the league scoring race with 25 goals in 13 matches – the next-best player has 11 tallies.
Ottawa TFC U17 Girls look to finish undefeated campaign
Featuring several players who helped Ottawa TFC to the region’s first-ever U17 soccer national title in 2019, the U17 girls’ reds have a chance to add another trophy to the case when they take on Vaughan at 3:30 p.m. in Cumberland.
Ottawa TFC will be after all 3 points in order to ensure that Markham – level in the standings with an identical record of 13 wins and 1 tie – won’t leapfrog them on the final day. Ottawa TFC owns a healthy tiebreaking edge in goal differential, having outscored opponents 95-6.
Markham and Ottawa TFC tied 0-0 in their only meeting. Paige Robert recorded the clean sheet in that contest and now has a streak of 6 consecutive shutouts going. Ottawa TFC has not allowed 2 goals in any game.
Ottawa TFC’s next-toughest match to Markham came in a 2-1 win over OSU, which has posted a 10-win, 2-loss, 1-tie campaign.
Ottawa TFC’s Flavie Dubé’s 26 goals scored is second only to OSU’s Sabrina Mangiaracina, who’s got 37 in 13 games this season.
West Ottawa Warriors after top spot in U17 Boys OPDL
The West Ottawa Warriors could use a helping hand from their crosstown nemesis as they seek the U17 boys’ overall OPDL crown.
West Ottawa has just one loss this year – a season-opening 3-2 defeat to OSU, which they’ve since followed with 12 consecutive wins, including their past 6 games by 1 goal.
OSU will be playing west division-leading Oakville on the final day of the season and could provide a big boost to the Warriors, who would likely lose out on goal differential tiebreaker should they wind up tied with Oakville in the standings.
West Ottawa will definitely want to win their 4:30 p.m. contest with Brampton in Kanata if they want to add the overall crown to the east title they’ve wrapped up (OSU, with 10 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie at present, will finish closest).
Ottawa TFC’s Darren Bouaziz is the U17 boys’ league-leading scorer with 17 goals.
Not quite as glamorous stakes, but Atlético Ottawa also play on Sunday, as they try to stay out of the Canadian Premier League cellar when they take on York United at 2 p.m. at TD Place.
The Sports Pages will be there for all the action. Follow our coverage here on OttawaSportsPages.ca and in our next edition of the Ottawa Sports Pages newspaper.