New colours. New team. New stadium. Same campus. For four members of York9 Football Club, their days as York Lions may be over but they've returned to the York University campus to play in familiar surroundings for the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League (CPL).

York alumni Michael Cox, Daniel Gogarty, Ryan Telfer, and Colm Vance were all members of the 2015 national championship squad for the Lions and are looking to make their mark in the CPL as part of the first roster in York9 history. Current Lion Emmanuel Zambazis his first season with the Lions in 2018, makes a total of five players with York history playing for the newly formed team.

The CPL, which launched its inaugural season in April, features seven teams from across Canada. The rosters of the teams began to take shape in November 2018 with the first ever CPL-U Sports draft, where Gogarty became the first draft pick in York9 history when they selected him fourth overall in the first round. Zambazis was selected by the team in second round, while Cox and Vance were both signed to contracts by the team over the winter. Telfer was acquired on a season-long loan from the Toronto FC in March.

"It's great being able to play in a familiar setting," said Gogarty, on what it's like playing professionally on the York campus. "Being close to home means all my friends and family get to come out and support us which is something I don't take for granted. It's certainly helped with the transition from university, not having to move and staying close to home has made the transition to the CPL much smoother for me."

A few more familiar faces on the York9 team include Lions master coach Carmine Isacco, who is the first assistant coach with York9 FC; Luca Forno, who is also pulling double duty as Lions assistant coach and serving as York9’s equipment manager and as Lions assistant coach; and Constantine Poulos, who played with the Lions from 2009-10 and is the strength and conditioning coach for both teams.

Full story available: From Lions to York9 FC