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CHICAGO (Aug. 2, 2016) – Washington Spirit midfielder Estefania Banini was voted the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player of the Month by the NWSL Media Association for the month of July of the 2016 NWSL season.
Banini, 26, scored four goals in July to lead the Spirit to a 4-1-0 record and a plus-six goal difference – both league bests for the month – as Washington closed a six-point gap at the start of July to draw level on points with league-leading Portland Thorns FC.
The Mendoza, Argentina native scored in three of the Spirit’s five games in the month to power herself into a tie with Portland forward Nadia Nadim for fourth in scoring with five goals on the season. She netted the first goal of the game in all three contests in which she scored – including the game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Red Stars on July 9.
The Spirit are 8-0-1 this season when leading at any point in a match – tied with the Western New York Flash for the best record in the league in that situation.
The Argentina international followed up in the next game with a two-goal performance July 16 that earned her NWSL Player of the Week honors for Week 13 and helped Washington emerge with a 3-2 win against champions FC Kansas City.
She then helped the Spirit avenge their only loss of the month with the opening goal in a 3-1 victory over Sky Blue FC on July 31. All five of Banini’s goals this season have come via her feet – with three occurring during open play, while two have resulted from set-piece situations.
Four of her five goals have come during the first half of games and Washington is a perfect 4-0-0 in games in which Banini has scored this season. She has scored the opening goal of the match four times – a team-best and a major reason why the Spirit have led for the most minutes (540) in the league this season, 43 percent of the time.
It is the first time Banini has been named as the NWSL Player of the Month. She joins forward and U.S. international Crystal Dunn (August 2015) as the second Spirit player to be honored with the award.
The Washington Spirit will return to action Thursday, August 18 at 8 p.m. ET against the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The NWSL Player of the Month is selected each month of the regular season by the NWSL Media Association, a collection of press that cover the league on a consistent basis. For more information on the NWSL Media Association, follow them on Twitter.