Following a week of voting by fans, media, and the Spirit coaching staff, the following players joined Golden Boot winner Estefi Banini as Washington Spirit 2016 Team Award winners.
Golden Boot: Estefi Banini
Defender of the Year: Ali Krieger
Fan Favorite: Ali Krieger
MVP: Christine Nairn
Newcomer of the Year: Shelina Zadorsky
Estefania Banini lived up to her promise in 2016 as one of the best players out of South America after starting 2015 strong, but suffering a season-ending injury just four games into her first campaign in Washington. The Argentinian international scored a team-leading 5 goals within a 7-game stretch from June 18 to July 31, a critical time when the Spirit accumulated needed points during the absence of many of the league’s other top players due to the Rio Olympics. For her efforts, Banini was awarded NWSL Goal of the Week and Player of the Week in Week 13 and NWSL Player of the Month for July.
Defender of the Year / Fan Favorite
Washington Spirit captain Ali Krieger has been part of the team since the inaugural 2013 season. Despite missing time with the Spirit to become an Olympian, the right back was a consistent presence on the back line, making 14 regular season starts, including being the first U.S. Women’s National Team member to return to play following the Olympics. In addition to her constant leadership and defensive skills all season, Krieger contributed on the attacking end of field as well, scoring two goals this season including breaking the ice in the Spirit’s first semifinal win to give the Spirit the early lead that led to their win and appearance in the NWSL Championship match for the first time.
Third year Spirit veteran Christine Nairn has been a vital piece of the Spirit midfield, playing in every match thus far and starting all but two. The Annapolis, Md native scored three goals this season, including a brace against Houston Dash on August 18 that all but secured her hometown team’s top two position in the NWSL final standings. Her second goal against the Dash, a stunner from 35 yards out in what has become known as “Nairn Territory,” won her the NWSL Goal of the Week honors for Week 16. Throughout the season, her technical ability bossed the midfield, while her relentless defensive work personified the Spirit’s biggest strength in their historic run all the way to the big show for the first time.
Newcomer of the Year
Shelina Zadorsky, who was one of the new players from the CANWNT to come to the NWSL for the 2016 season, quickly became a fixture on the Spirit back line. After missing time with the Spirit to win an Olympic bronze medal for Canada, the center back reinserted herself into the starting lineup toward the end of the season thanks to her defending acumen, distribution, and aerial presence. Zadorsky also chipped in a memorable assist in the 2016 NWSL semifinal, sending in a beautiful ball for Ali Krieger to head into the back of the net for the first goal of the match.