2017 National Women’s Soccer League Awards Finalists Revealed
The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced Thursday the list of finalists for Most Valuable Player, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year.
GoalNation — like many other media outlets – voted on the finalists and we all eagerly await the winners to be announced. All of these talented finalists deserve congratulations for their accomplishments, as does the league for providing a fabulous season of professional women’s soccer.
In the final round of voting – owners, general managers, head coaches, players, media and fans will vote from now to Oct. 6 at 5 p.m. ET to determine the individual award winners as well as the 2017 NWSL Best XI.
Coach of the Year
Rory Dames – Chicago Red Stars
With a record of 11-7-6 (39 points) in 2017, Rory Dames is the only coach to have earned 30 or more points in every one of the five NWSL seasons. With the Chicago Red Stars from the start of the league, Dames is also the only coach in the 2017 playoffs to have been with the team since the NWSL’s inaugural year in 2013.
Paul Riley – North Carolina Courage
After coaching the Western New York Flash to the 2016 NWSL Championship, Paul Riley embraced the challenge of leading the team through their relocation to become the North Carolina Courage. Riley has helped to prepare players for the international stage with their respective national teams – as shown most recently by the emergence of Taylor Smith with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Tom Sermanni – Orlando Pride
In just a year, Tom Sermanni has led the team from a fledgling side that finished in ninth place in 2016 to a championship contender in 2017. In 2017, the Pride offense became the most potent in the league, scoring 45 goals across 11 players, compared to 20 goals between six players the year prior.
Rookie of the Year
Jane Campbell – Houston Dash
Jane Campbell finished her rookie season with a franchise-high three clean sheets over 16 games for the Houston Dash in 2017. Selected with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, Campbell made 65 saves this season for the Dash. The Stanford product was also named to the NWSL Team of the Month for July.
Ashley Hatch – North Carolina Courage
The No. 2 overall selection in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, Ashley Hatch emerged as a key part of the attack for the North Carolina Courage – making 13 starts in 22 appearances for the NWSL Shield winners. Hatch was named to the NWSL Team of the Month for June and was nominated for Goal of the Week twice during that month.
Mallory Pugh – Washington Spirit
The youngest player in the NWSL made a major impact Mallory Pugh’s rookie season, leading the Washington Spirit with six goals in just 16 appearances after signing with the team in May. The 19-year-old had several signature performances throughout the season. She finished the season with another two-goal performance at home Sept. 30 against Seattle Reign FC.
Goalkeeper of the Year
Adrianna Franch – Portland Thorns FC
Adrianna Franch anchored a Thorns FC defense that allowed the fewest goals (20) and posted the best goal differential (+17) during the 2017 regular season as one of just two goalkeepers in the NWSL to start every match and play every minute.
Alyssa Naeher – Chicago Red Stars
Alyssa Naeher helped Chicago earn its third-straight playoff appearance as she recorded six shutouts while facing the second-most shots in the league. Naeher conceded just 25 goals in 22 appearances this year for a 1.14 goals against average.
Katelyn Rowland – North Carolina Courage
Since claiming the starting role for the North Carolina Courage, Katelyn Rowland has posted eight shutouts to add to the team’s record-breaking 12 total shutouts in 2017. She made 16 starts for the Courage this season and boasted a 0.75 goals against average – the lowest GAA in the league among goalkeepers with at least 1,000 minutes.
Defender of the Year
Steph Catley – Orlando Pride
Steph Catley continued her dominance during her second season with the Pride. The 23-year-old Australian led the Pride in total touches (1,667) but showed her attacking versatility down the flanks, leading the Pride with 75 crosses and finished second with 27 chances created.
Abby Dahlkemper – North Carolina Courage
Abby Dahlkemper played every second of the 2017 NWSL season. It was the second consecutive year that she did not miss a minute on the field and her current streak of 5,580 consecutive minutes (62 games) is an NWSL record. Dahlkemper’s skill on set pieces makes her the Courage’s go-to for corner kicks and free kicks – as reflected by the 116 corners she’s taken in 2017.
Ali Krieger – Orlando Pride
The only Pride player to appear in all 2,160 minutes, Ali Krieger brought her veteran leadership and outstanding defensive skills to the Orlando Pride backline. Krieger’s addition played a major role in the transformation of the Pride defense, while her versatility contributed to much of Orlando’s success.
Becky Sauerbrunn – FC Kansas City
Becky Sauerbrunn has been the league’s most consistent defender throughout the five-year history of the NWSL. In 2017, she led the league in blocks (24), was fourth in connected passes (1,176). Sauerbrunn was voted the NWSL Defender of the Year in each of the first three seasons of the league’s existence.
Casey Short – Chicago Red Stars
After being named an allocated player for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Casey Short found her place in Chicago’s strong backline in just her second year in the NWSL. Short and the Red Stars defense had a goal against average of 1.25 in 2017, the third-best in the league.
Most Valuable Player
Samantha Kerr – Sky Blue FC
The 2017 Golden Boot winner, Samantha Kerr set a new NWSL single-season scoring record with 17 goals in 22 appearances. Five of her 17 tallies were game-winning goals, to go along with four assists. She became the first player to record two hat tricks in the same season, recorded the fastest hat trick in league history as she registered three goals in 12 minutes.
Marta – Orlando Pride
After being acquired as a blockbuster signing in March, Marta did not disappoint in her first NWSL season. Marta finished the 2017 season second in the league in both goals (13) and assists (6), also team highs in both categories. Four of her goals were game-winning goals and she led the league in chances created with 64.
Samantha Mewis – North Carolina Courage
Samantha Mewis dominated the center of the field for the North Carolina Courage as her six goals – including three game-winning goals – and three assists helped power the club to the 2017 NWSL Shield. A consistent force in the middle of the park, Mewis won 64 percent of her duels and 79 percent of her tackles this season.
Christen Press – Chicago Red Stars
Regaining her role as captain, Christen Press registered personal bests with both 11 goals and four assists in regular season. Five of her goals were game-winning goals and four of her 11 goals came from the penalty spot – tied for the most in the league.
Megan Rapinoe – Seattle Reign FC
With 12 goals and one assist in her 18 games played, Megan Rapinoe finished the 2017 NWSL season with her highest ever goal total and the third most goals in the league this year. Four of her goals were game-winning goals.
Twice named NWSL Player of the Week, and the Player of the Month for July, Rapinoe scored against six of the other nine NWSL teams this year.
Source: NWSL News Release