After a summer without soccer on pitches across the county, the Glengarry Soccer League announced its tentative plans for an indoor season to begin this fall, but that has now been nixed as well.
On September 23, the league issued a statement saying, “After reviewing the guidelines from OSA [Ontario Soccer Association] and the government, discussions with the EOHU [Eastern Ontario Health Unit], and monitoring the current situation with COVID-19 and the community, the GSL has decided not to run an indoor soccer league this fall.”
In some consolation, the statement adds, “We are going to reassess and consider having a shortened league come January.”
The GSL last saw action in early March, when the 2019-20 season came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, winter indoor soccer playoffs were underway. Initially, matches were postponed, with play subsequently cancelled and no champions declared.
Through the summer, other GSL programs were delayed and later cancelled, including all youth and adult outdoor soccer, as well as the competitive regional Glengarry Hearts teams that compete in the Ottawa-based ERSL.
As of posting this story, the league’s website had not been updated, still displaying information to register for the now-cancelled summer outdoor season.
The GSL has been limited by health and safety guidelines imposed by the league’s sanctioning body, the Ontario Soccer Association.
Under the OSA outline, as of September 17, leagues are now permitted play within a region (We are part of the east region, EODSA), with modified games (e.g. no throw-ins, limited handling of the ball) and training. In the case of indoor soccer, per government guidelines, a maximum of 50 people can be in the facility at any one time.
The latest announcement from the Glengarry Soccer League officially ended any prospect of a summer season of the beautiful game in the county, as the GSL has pulled the plug on play in all adult divisions.
That prospect was ended with this June 22 announcement: “Unfortunately, there will be no GSL soccer this outdoor season. The GSL has made the difficult decision to cancel ALL divisions. This includes Senior, Tier 2, and Hearts (in addition to the previously cancelled minor division).”
The addition of the Hearts to the cancellation list refers to the competitive Glengarry Hearts minor teams that the county fields each year to compete in the East Region Soccer League. The ERSL has not cancelled its season, which, in a normal year, would have begun in mid-May and run through August, occasionally into September.
A GSL representative told me that the county league was waiting on word from the ERSL and/or the EODSA (the Eastern Ontario District Soccer Association, which is the region’s governing body for the sport), but none came, so the GSL acted, officially silencing soccer balls in Glengarry.
Meanwhile, Ontario Soccer and the EODSA has announced that clubs can begin phase 1 of the Return to Play plan.
According to Ontario Soccer plan, phase 1 allows for a return to modified training. Restrictions include no contact and no league, exhibition, festival, or tournament matches.
Ontario Soccer notes that the organization “will determine timelines for each Phase in alignment with the Province of Ontario provincial health authorities involving government orders, restrictions, and guidelines.”
The ERSL has been working on a contingency plan to salvage a 2020 season, which now will not include any Glengarry Hearts teams. According to the current outline, “If we are not in Phase 3 of Ontario Soccer’s Return to Play Guidelines on or before July 31, 2020, the ERSL will cancel the 2020 outdoor season.”
The hope is that a 9-week season could start August 2, providing 10 to 12 games per team, and running through early October. This is what the ERSL bills as “our most extensive delay,” one of a number of scenarios within their contingency plan. Under this situation, divisions would be assigned two game days per week, Cup and Shield events would be cancelled, and there would be no two-week break in the schedule.
The Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club also cancelled its 2020 outdoor season for house teams and the Coyotes (tournament play).
The Seaway Valley Blazers ERSL teams, which play out of Cornwall, are still registered to play in the region’s competitive league, should its season proceed at some point. Currently, the club is set to field boys teams at the U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U15 (two squads), U16, U17, and U18 levels. On the girls side, expected teams are U10, U11, U12, U13, U14, U16, and U18 (two squads).
At the time of that announcement on May 11, the GSL stated that it would convene its board and committee members to explore options. Yesterday, the league announced there would be no minor soccer for the 2020 season.
“The Glengarry Soccer League has made the difficult decision to cancel the Outdoor 2020 season for the MINOR division. An email will be sent out to all participants with information regarding refunds. At this time, a decision has not been made for the Senior and Tier 2 divisions.”
GSL announcement, May 24
Matthew Houlzet, who serves at the GSL referee assignor and GSL minor referee-in-chief and works as a soccer official himself, tells me that the league is still hoping that there will be adult soccer in some form, though the schedule will have to be adjusted and/or compressed.
Typically, senior soccer begins in the latter stages of May, concluding in August. At best, this year, play could begin in July, unless Ontario Soccer extends the prohibition on play through that month.
The GSL will be looking at various schedule options that could see play (if it happens at all) extend into the fall, perhaps as late as October.
The only certainty at this point is that there will be no youth matches in the Glengarry Soccer League this summer.
In terms of other area leagues, today the Cornwall-based Seaway Valley Soccer Club announced the cancellation of its house league and Coyotes (semi-competitive, all-star program) seasons.
“Due in part to the closure of facilities, the uncertainty of distancing orders surrounding recreational programming, the amount of time it would take to properly organize a recreational soccer program, SVSC must in the best interest of all, unfortunately, cancel its House League and Coyotes programs for spring/summer 2020. It should be noted that this decision did not come lightly, but the safety for all is the most important to the club and we appreciate the patience from parents, players, coaches, and officials.
Should the situation change with current conditions of COVID-19, SVSC will be looking at other options to provide possible soccer training activities once it is deemed safe to do so.”
Seaway Valley Soccer Club statement, May 25
At this time, the East Region Soccer League, the top competitive youth loop in this area, continues to explore options for a 2020 season. The GSL via Glengarry Hearts and the SVSC through its Cornwall Blazers teams participate in this league.
The ERSL has not cancelled play for this summer, but has suspended all in-person activities per direction from Ontario Soccer. Updates on modifications to rules and potential play can be followed on their website here.
The Glengarry Soccer League’s indoor season has been suspended, effective March 13, says Tammy MacSweyn, GSL vice-president.
The lone match on the docket tonight was the last senior men’s regular-season game featuring the Barflies and McCrimmon. Nothing was scheduled for the March Break (next week), with GSL action originally booked to resume March 22. However, that is now in limbo.
MacSweyn explains that the league is following the direction of Ontario Soccer, which announced last night, “Ontario Soccer has made the difficult decision to immediately suspend all sanctioned soccer activities in the province until further notice.” This includes “all competitions, training, coach and match official education, and team-building activities.”
Registration for the summer outdoors season of the Glengarry Soccer League is currently underway, with standard rates available until the end of February.
Players (or parents of players) can register online via the GSL’s website or in-person at the dome in Alexandria, during regular hours of operation. This applies to all divisions offered, from U6/co-ed through tier 2.
All fees increase by $10 effective March 1 through March 21, with further escalations after that. The GSL encourages you to register this month for the best pricing.
Heading into the 2020 portion of the winter indoor soccer schedule, Alexandria FC tops the Glengarry Soccer League’s men’s table, with 15 points.
The leading squad won five of six matches before the Christmas break, suffering just one loss along the way. In second spot are the Barflies with 12 points (4-3 record), followed by Glen Sandfield (3-3), McCrimmon (2-4), and the Young Gunners (1-4).
Play is scheduled to resume on January 9 with two games on the docket. At 7:30 p.m., the Young Gunners will take on Glen Sandfield, and at 8:30 p.m., the top two teams will tangle.
The Glengarry Soccer League’s indoor season at the dome in Alexandria is scheduled to kick off this week, with senior women’s games starting Tuesday, while the men will begin on Friday.
Opening night in the senior women’s division on Tuesday, October 29 has Glen Nevis set to play Dalhart at 7:30 p.m., followed by Alexandria versus Glen Sandfield at 8:30 p.m.
Matches are booked to continued Tuesday nights throughout the winter, with the occasional game on Monday evening as well. There are five teams in the league, with the other squad being Vankleek Hill, which gets a bye for week one.
In the senior men’s group, which also features five teams, Glen Sandfield and the Barflies open the schedule on Friday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. That’s followed by a game between McCrimmon and Alexandria FC at 8:30 p.m.
Most men’s matches will be played Thursday nights through the season, with some games on Friday evenings. The fifth team, which gets a week one bye, is the Young Gunners.
Minor divisions begin Sunday, starting with the U18 girls. U11 co-ed plays Monday evening, U18 boys Tuesday (before the senior women) and again Thursday, and U7 co-ed and U13 co-ed Wednesday night.
The Glengarry Hearts U16 girls soccer team recently claimed the East Region Shield championship, with a 4-1 victory over Ottawa-based St. Anthony. The triumph capped off a successful run in the season-long tournament that runs alongside league play in the ERSL.
Miriam Boisvenue paced the offence in the finale, scoring a hat trick, while Ella Campbell added one goal.
The ER Shield is a knockout format tourney that saw the Hearts beat Russell (5-0) and Glengarry’s U15 girls (6-0) in previous rounds. Meanwhile, in other matches, the various other clubs from Cornwall, Ottawa, and surrounding regions fell by the wayside to set up the final match-up with St. Anthony.
In regular-season league play, the Hearts finished with a record of 9 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie, for 28 points. The team was +24 on goal differential. Glengarry placed third overall in the final standings.
Boisvenue topped the team (and league) in scoring, with 21. Camilla Gauthier counted 7 markers on the season, and Bowles had 5 to round out the top three. Alexa Sabourin backstopped three league-game shutouts.