Finalists Named For NWSL Season Awards

Crystal Dunn
Washington Spirit’s Crystal Dunn is a finalist for league MVP.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has revealed its 2015 NWSL Awards finalist for the Most Valuable Player, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and Best XI.

In the Final Round, owners, general managers, coaches, players, media and fans will vote through September 11 at 5 p.m. eastern time to determine the individual award winners and Best XI.

VOTE: http://nwsl.us/1Lkaqix

• Coach of the Year

Vlatko Andonovski – FC Kansas City

Vlatko Andonovski became the first NWSL coach to lead a team to the playoffs for the third year in a row after the Blues finished the season with an overall record of 9-6-5, 32 points. After winning the 2014 NWSL Championship, the Macedonia native led his team to its third top three finish despite missing four key players due to the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Earlier this season, he was also named Kevin Gray Coach of the Year in June as the best adult soccer coach in the Kansas City area.

Laura Harvey – Seattle Reign FC

Laura Harvey followed up her 2014 Shield winning campaign with more of the same, leading Reign FC to the top of the NWSL Standings, ten points ahead of the second place team. In addition to booking another trip to the post-season, Seattle captured the Shield for a second consecutive season. Harvey’s side remained a powerhouse on the pitch, finishing the year with a 13-3-4 record for a total of 43 points, and outscoring opponents 41-21. Reign FC also went the 2015 regular season without a home blemish for a second season, extending an unbeaten run on the Moda Pitch at Memorial Stadium to 23 matches across all NWSL play.

Mark Parsons – Washington Spirit

Mark Parsons led the Spirit to the playoffs for the second year in a row, ending the regular season with a record of 8-6-6. Parsons made a number of off-season acquisitions that bolstered the roster. Heading into the 2015 NWSL College Draft, Parsons had one fourth round draft pick, but through a series of trades came out of the draft with three stellar rookies who have all made an impact this season – Megan Oyster, Whitney Church, and Caprice Dydasco. He successfully converted Church from her center back position at Penn State to a starting right back for the Spirit. After the World Cup, Parsons was able to blend in seamlessly new and returning players from Nigeria, Australia, Canada, and the US.

• Rookie of the Year

Danielle Colaprico – Chicago Red Stars

The Red Stars rookie from Virginia played in and started all 20 league matches in her debut NWSL season. Playing as a defensive midfielder, Colaprico scored just one goal this season, but it proved vital as it was a game-winner that secured three points over Sky Blue in early May. Her biggest contribution to the team was in her defensive role protecting the back line behind her. Her ability to track back and tackle has proven vital to the Red Stars success this season. Though she was one of the youngest members of the team, she has been proven to be one of the most consistent, leading the team in minutes played (1,776 of a possible 1,800).

Sofia Huerta – Chicago Red Stars

The Santa Clara product had a strong start to her rookie season with the Chicago Red Stars. Huerta started her scoring streak against Boston in early May with two goals and an assist; this also marked the first goal of her professional career. From there the rookie went on to score four more goals over the next five games and assist on two others to finish the season with six goals and three assists. The forward was the first player in NWSL history to earn Player of the Week in two consecutive weeks in May. She subsequently won Player of the Month for May. When she wasn’t scoring, Huerta’s well-timed runs and speed made her a dangerous attacker that challenged defenders league-wide throughout the entire season.

Samantha Mewis – Western New York Flash

Mewis, a rookie out of UCLA, quickly became a key player for the Flash, starting all 20 games of the 2015 season and leading her club with four goals and four assists. Drafted with the Flash’s second pick (No. 4 overall), Mewis led all rookies in assists (4), shots (55) and shots on goal (27) this year. After earning her first professional goal in the Flash’s home opening win against Boston on May 2, Mewis finished her debut year with a dominant performance in the Flash’s 3-2 home finale win over Portland, scoring the game-wining goal, adding an assist and having a hand in WNY’s third tally.

• Goalkeeper of the Year

Nicole Barnhart – FC Kansas City

U.S. Women’s National Team veteran and longtime FC Kansas City’s starting goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart ended the 2015 regular season as the league leader in clean sheets for the third consecutive year. She played a total of 1,530 minutes in 17 games earning eight wins and shutouts with 54 saves and averaging 0.941 goals per game.

Michelle Betos – Portland Thorns FC

After starting just two matches in 2014, Betos started 14 matches, logging 1,260 minutes in goal, ranking among the top-three in the league in games played and minutes played. Betos surrendered multiple goals in just four matches this season for Portland, making several key saves and plays late in matches to secure points for Thorns FC. Most notably, Betos is the only goalkeeper to score a goal in NWSL history, tallying the game-tying goal while playing with just 10 players in second-half stoppage time against FC Kansas City on June 19 this season. Additionally, Betos also saved a penalty kick in a scoreless draw on the road against Houston on June 6.

Brittany Cameron – Sky Blue FC

Brittany Cameron was the only NWSL goalkeeper to appear in all 20 matches over the 2015 season, playing a league-high 1,792 of a possible 1800 minutes. The Sky Blue FC net minder also led the NWSL with 87 saves, 33 more than her closest competitor. The number gave her an average of 4.35 saves-per-game, also an NWSL best. Additionally, Cameron registered four shutouts and gave up one or less goals in 13 matches over the course of the 2015 season.

• Defender of the Year

Lauren Barnes – Seattle Reign FC

Lauren Barnes was one of two players to play every single minute of the 2015 campaign for Reign FC, starting all 20 matches for a total of 1,800 minutes. The 26-year old centerback was an important member of a stout Seattle defense that allowed just 21 goals en route to the most wins in the league. Barnes was instrumental in creating chances at a moment’s notice for Reign FC, as seen in her two assists, both of which were pin-point balls played over the top. As quickly as she sprung Reign FC’s attack, Barnes remained a wall on defense, making it difficult for opposing teams to break down Reign FC’s back four.

Kendall Fletcher – Seattle Reign FC

Kendall Fletcher played a total of 1,698 minutes for Reign FC during the regular season, starting all 19 matches in which she appeared. The 30-year old cemented a backline that allowed just 21 goals all season.  The prolific centerback made a seamless switch to outside back early into the 2015 campaign, allowing Fletcher to be more involved in both the quick buildup of an attack and the attack itself. As such, the defender had two goals and two assists, including the game-winning tally against the Boston Breakers on August 26.

Julie Johnston – Chicago Red Stars

The 2014 NWSL Rookie of the year continued to build on her achievement and dominance on the field this season. Only appearing in 11 games for the Chicago Red Stars due to her success at the Women’s World Cup, Johnston’s consistency and composure was critical for the Red Stars back line. Despite her height of 5’7”, the central defender is dominant in the air in protecting the Red Stars goal. Showing off her versatility as a player, Johnston has been a contributor to the Red Stars attack. She has provided two assists in her 11 games this season, but also been the catalyst for Chicago’s attack, finding critical passes forward to her teammates.

Amy LePeilbet – FC Kansas City

U.S. Women’s National Team veteran Amy LePeilbet came back and played every single minute for FC Kansas City this season. She was one of the team’s two iron women and led the Blues’ backline to a one-goal-per-game average. Kansas City finished the regular season allowing only 20 goals in 20 games (best in the league). LePeilbet returned to coach Vlatko Andonovski’s starting lineup after battling two long-term injuries in the last couple of years. In addition, LePeilbet scored two goals, both game-tying tallies against the Chicago Red Stars.

Becky Sauerbrunn – FC Kansas City

FC Kansas City’s captain is looking for her third NWSL Defender of the Year award in a row after winning it in the league’s inaugural season and last season after helping the Blues lift the NWSL trophy. This season, she started and played eleven games. However, her biggest achievement was leading the U.S. Women’s National Team’s backline during the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was the only FCKC player on the roster to play every single minute throughout the tournament and was a crucial player for Coach Jill Ellis’ team.

• MVP

Crystal Dunn – Washington Spirit

Crystal Dunn won a record six NWSL Player of the Week Awards, the NWSL Player of the Month Award for August, and the NWSL Golden Boot for most goals scored in the regular season with 15. Her 0.75 goals-per-team-game is a new league record. Dunn led the Spirit into the playoffs with six game-winning goals. Her quick pace and technical ability allowed her to terrorize back lines across the league.

Jessica Fishlock – Seattle Reign FC

Jess Fishlock played 19 matches, all starts, for a total of 1,698 minutes for Reign FC during the 2015 campaign. She again solidified one of the best midfield pairings in the league next to teammate Keelin Winters. The defensive midfielder was a force for Seattle as she found ways to involve herself in the attack without leaving the midfield susceptible to counter attacks. Her seamless movement in the middle allowed for Fishlock to score eight goals on the season, doubling her production from 2014. Fishlock also tallied two assists on the season as Reign FC lead the league in goals scored with 41. Additionally, she won Player of the Week honors for Week 9.

Kim Little – Seattle Reign FC

Kim Little followed up her astounding 2014 campaign as a continued danger on the pitch. The 25-year-old played a total of 1,784 minutes for Reign FC, starting all 20 matches this season. While teams tried to contain Little, the playmaker did what she does best: create and score goals. Of the 27 shots she put on frame, 10 of them found the back of the net as Little finished the year tied for second in the league for goals scored. In addition to being a dangerous goal scorer, Little did wonders when it came to creating opportunities for those around her, and lead the league with seven assists. Little won Player of the Month in June after tallying three goals and an assist and took home Player of the Week honors in Week 19 following her first NWSL hat-trick.

Christen Press – Chicago Red Stars

Even though the forward missed a significant portion of the season due to the World Cup, Press led the league with the best goals-per-game average (0.90) finished tied for in goals with 10. Three of her goals scored were game-winners for the Chicago Red Stars. In each match she appeared in, her presence has been a threatening one to opposing teams’ backlines. Her constant mobility created lots of scoring opportunities for the Red Stars to attack and find opportunities in the final third. Her sublime technique with the ball and precision when shooting has made her a standout player this season in the NWSL.

Beverly Yanez – Seattle Reign FC

Beverly Yanez was a key member of Reign FC’s talented attack, playing 1,338 minutes. Through 17 matches, all starts, Yanez’s tactical ability prevailed as she found ways to finish her chances under immense pressure time and time again. The 27-year old lead the team in goals scored for the majority of the season and finished the year with a total of nine, including a brace in a 3-0 victory over Portland Thorns FC, an effort that won her Player of the Week for Week 15. She also tallied one assist as part of Reign FC scoring a league-high 41 goals.