Orlando Pride Celebrates Player Accomplishments
The Orlando Pride hosted an awards ceremony to cap off a productive 2017 season. Several star players won awards for their many accolades, including MVP, Defender of the Year, and Comeback of the Year.
After reaching the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs for the first time in Club history this past season, a total of 12 awards were given out on Friday including five awards voted on by the fans.
The 2017 #GoldenSwan winners are:
Most Valuable Player & Golden Boot: Marta
Blockbuster signee Marta did not disappoint in her first NWSL season, leading the Pride in goals and assists during the 2017 season. The five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year finished with 13 goals and six assists, with her goal total ranking second in the league.
Though her statistical impact was evident, the forward’s connection with her new teammates both on and off the field became one of the team’s most integral pieces. Marta teamed up with striking partner Alex Morgan five times in the latter part of the season as the Pride went on a nine-game unbeaten streak to end the year and clinch a playoff berth.
Marta was named to the NWSL Team of the Month from June on, was a finalist for NWSL Most Valuable Player and won the Week 16 Goal of the Week.
Defender of the Year: Ali Krieger
The only Pride player to log all 2,250 minutes during the 2017 season, Ali Krieger brought her veteran leadership and outstanding defensive skills to the backline.
Naturally a right back, Krieger started all but five games at the center back position. In that role, the World Cup champion led the Pride in clearances (107), interceptions (47), blocks (12) and successful passes (1,099) while helping the Pride to their first postseason appearance. Krieger also picked up two assists and was a finalist for NWSL Defender of the Year.
Newcomer of the Year: Camila
With the ability to play anywhere from right back to left winger,
Camila’s impact was felt all over the pitch throughout the 2017 season.
The Brazilian international totaled four goals and five assists during the year, with three of those goals coming on world class distance strikes.
The 23-year-old, who was signed by the Pride last December, saw her season cut short after sustaining a right knee ACL tear and MCL sprain during the regular-season finale at North Carolina.
Comeback Player of the Year: Aubrey Bledsoe
After seeing her 2016 cut short due to a broken leg sustained in training, Aubrey Bledsoe came back for the 2017 season at the top of her game.
The 25-year-old goalkeeper featured in 11 games after Ashlyn Harris was sidelined with an injury. Bledsoe led the Pride to a 5-4-2 record over that time, including two shutouts and a Save of the Week winning stop on July 8 at Washington Spirit.
Coaches Award: Alanna Kennedy
Acquired by the Pride in January via trade with North Carolina Courage, Alanna Kennedy played an integral role in Orlando’s success during 2017. Naturally a center back, head coach Tom Sermanni shifted the Australian to holding midfield in a move that paid high dividends. Kennedy would go on to not only score five goals, but was a presence and key piece of the team’s transition – both offensively and defensively.
Kennedy played all but 59 minutes and finished first on the team in aerials (167) – over 100 more than the next player – second in passes into the final third (186) and headed clearances (31), and third in touches (1,513) and clearances (79). Her 98 aerials won marked the second-highest total across all players in the NWSL.
Humanitarian of the Year: Dani Weatherholt
The first player to volunteer at an opportunity in the community, second-year midfielder Dani Weatherholt was selected as the team’s 2017 Humanitarian of the Year.
Weatherholt can often be found at Orlando City Foundation events, including the Club’s Soccer for Success programs or visits at Orlando Health. During a 2016 visit, Weatherholt met 13-year-old Zayne Burton, a patient at UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health.
Weatherholt has become one of Zayne’s biggest supporters, visiting the Burton family a weekly basis.
Fan Vote Goal of the Year: Alanna Kennedy at NC Courage, Sept. 30 (watch)
With one, clean strike Alanna Kennedy handed Orlando Pride its 11th win of the season and catapulted the side into third place to end the 2017 regular season.
Kennedy beat North Carolina Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland in second half stoppage time, her fifth goal of the season, with a perfectly-placed free kick from 20-yards out. The goal would go on to win Week 22 Goal of the Week.
Fan Vote Assist of the Year: Ali Krieger to Alex Morgan at Boston, Aug. 19 (watch)
Defender Ali Krieger earned her second assist of 2017 during the Pride’s Aug. 19 match at Boston on a clever set-piece set up in the 73rd minute. Krieger capitalized on the free kick from just outside of the center circle, pinpointing Alex Morgan with a chip over the backline and setting the forward up for her second goal of the day.
Fan Vote Save of the Year: Ashlyn Harris at NC Courage, Sept. 30 (watch)
In a year that saw the Pride take home 11 Save of the Week awards, none may have been bigger than Ashlyn Harris’ 29th minute stop on North Carolina Courage forward Kristen Hamilton. Harris came up with a jaw-dropping save, denying Hamilton’s cross-goal volley with an outstretched, mid-air stop.
Fan Vote Game of the Year: Aug. 12 vs. Sky Blue FC (watch)
The Pride earned its most decisive win in team history on Aug. 12, downing Sky Blue FC 5-0 in a match that was pivotal in postseason qualifying.
Orlando and Sky Blue entered the match tied in the league table, both with 23 points, but the home team set the tone just four-minutes in when Alex Morgan finished off Marta’s feed to take the lead.
The Pride would never look back, adding goals in the 43rd, 47th, 53rd and 58th minutes. The match also marked the final career game for midfielder Maddy Evans, who retired from professional soccer following the victory.
Fan Vote Social Media Takeover-er of the Year: Toni Pressley
Defender and Florida State product Toni Pressley was tabbed as the Fans’ Social Media Takeover-er of the Year after numerously taking ownership for the team’s Snapchat account throughout the 2017 season.
Pressley humorously chronicled the team’s away trips, often featuring a behind-the-scenes look at life on the road including access to the team bus, inside the locker room or at the hotel with her roommate, Jamia Fields.
Source: Orlando Pride Press Release and Photos