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Washington, D.C., (11/05/21) – Three Washington Spirit players have been named to the shortlist for the 2021 NWSL League Awards. Aubrey Bledsoe has been nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year, Ashley Hatch has been nominated for Most Valuable Player presented by Budweiser, and Trinity Rodman has been nominated for Rookie of the Year presented by Ally. This is the first NWSL award nomination for Hatch and Rodman, and the third for Bledsoe.
In 2021, Bledsoe was second in the league in games played (22) and minutes played (1980). Unlike 2018 and 2019, Bledsoe did not lead the league in saves, in large part due to the improved defensive performance in front of her. Bledsoe also recorded eight clean sheets, one shy of her total in 2019, when she last won the award.
Compared with the two other goalkeepers nominated, Bledsoe played more minutes, faced more shots, had more saves, and was tied on clean sheets with Portland’s Bella Bixby.
In a year with many great goalscorers, Ashley Hatch reigned supreme. The NWSL’s Golden Boot race this season came down to the final weekend and with 10 goals on the year, Hatch was able to secure the honor for the first time.
Her career year saw her score four goals with her right foot, four with her left foot, and two more with her head. While she was able to spread the love with how she scored, where she scored from was a lot more simple. Hatch scored her first nine goals of the year from inside the box and capped off the year with a rocket of a shot from outside the 18-yard box to stay atop the scoring chart. In the eight games that Hatch scored in this year, the Spirit were undefeated, winning six of those matches.
Trinity Rodman came into this year as a big name with lots to prove. Having not played a minute of college soccer, it was unclear how she would do at this level. But after her first season, it is clear that Rodman is a star. She is the only player in the league to have five or more goals and five or more assists and lead all rookies in both goals (6) and assists (6). Her pace and size caused problems for defenses all season and her sharp ability to read the game improved throughout the season.
Rodman not only had an impact on the offense, but she was a part of a forward group that thrived in its collective ability to put pressure on the opposing team. This was a big part of the improvement on the defensive side of the ball for the Spirit in 2021, especially in the latter half of the season.
In the preliminary round of voting, players, owners, general managers, coaches, and the media voted on the individual awards to determine the final nominees. The preliminary round used a weighted scale, broken down by players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (25%) and media (25%). The nominees for each of those 2021 NWSL Awards are:
Most Valuable Player, presented by Budweiser: Jessica Fishlock (OL Reign), Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Angela Salem (Portland Thorns FC)
Defender of the Year: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Caprice Dydasco (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Menges (Portland Thorns FC), Carson Pickett (North Carolina Courage)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC), Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Kailen Sheridan (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Victoria Pickett (Kansas City Current), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
Coach of the Year: Laura Harvey (OL Reign), Scott Parkinson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mark Parsons (Portland Thorns FC)
Additional awards to be voted on in the final round include:
Best XI, presented by Mastercard, honoring a first and second team representing the top 22 players in the league.
Fans wishing to vote on the individual award winners, Best XI, and Best XI Second Team can access the voting ballot here. All votes must be submitted by Tuesday, November 9 at 11:59 p.m. ET. The final round of voting uses a weighted scale of players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%).
These award winners will be announced in the days surrounding the NWSL Championship game, which is set to kick off Saturday, November 20 at 12 p.m. ET at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. The contest will air live on CBS Television Network and stream live internationally on the NWSL’s Twitch channel.
In addition to the awards listed above, the winner of the inaugural Nationwide Community Impact Award will be announced and honored at halftime of the 2021 NWSL Championship match. For more details on the Nationwide Community Impact Award, please click here. The league will also select and announce the Championship MVP presented by Budweiser during the postgame, on-field presentation.
For more information on the 2021 NWSL Championship presented by Budweiser, click here.