The 2023 NWSL end-of-year award finalists were announced in October and the winners have now been revealed. Candidates for MVP, Defender of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year were decided through a preliminary round of weighted voting on the following weighted scale:
- Players (50%)
- Owners, general managers and coaches (25%)
- Media (25%).
The winners were determined by a final round of voting on the following weighted scale:
- Players (40%)
- Owners, GMs and coaches (25%)
- Media (25%)
- Fans (10%)
So who made the final cut and who took home the awards? Take a look look:
Most Valuable Player: Kerolin Nicoli Israel Ferraz
Winner: Kerolin – North Carolina Courage
Finalists: Sam Coffey (POR), Debinha (KCC), Naomi Girma (SD), Sophia Smith (POR)
Kerolin was voted 2023 NWSL MVP in just her second year in the league. The North Carolina Courage is the first Brazilian and fourth international player to earn the honors. The individual award is the second trophy for her in 2023 after leading the team to the 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup in September.
She’s the first-ever Latin American player to be voted MVP and played in 19 games as she aided the Courage to the playoffs as the third seed. The 23-year-old blazed the pitch whenever in attack for the Courage, and led the league in dribbles completed (67). Defenders were often left guessing as nine of her 10 goals came from inside the box, a league-best this season.
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jane Campbell
Winner: Jane Campbell – Houston Dash
Finalists: Katie Lund (LOU), Kailen Sheridan (SD)
Campbell set a career high this season with eight clean sheets and is the first-ever goalkeeper to win the award in Houston Dash history. The long-time Dash keeper was drafted by the club in 2017 and set multiple single-season career bests this year.
She led goalkeepers in the league in saves (91), goals against average (0.83), and fewest goals conceded (18). The club’s fewest goals conceded this year came close to breaking a league record, the current record was set at 17 goals conceded by North Carolina Courage in 2017 and was matched by Portland Thorns in 2021.
Campbell also earned ironwoman honors for the third time in her NWSL career and is just the fifth goalkeeper in the league to secure 30 regular season shutouts.
Coach of the Year: Juan Carlos Amoros
Winner: Juan Carlos Amoros – Gotham FC
Finalists: Casey Stoney (SD), Becki Tweed (LA)
Gotham hired Amoros over the offseason after he led Houston Dash to their first-ever NWSL postseason appearance as interim head coach. He and his coaching staff have implemented a playing style for the team that has an emphasis on organized defensive tactics.
The club led the league in possessions won (1554) and shots faced (205). They finished second among all teams in shots on target faced (82), interceptions (36) and duels won (1142). He led Gotham to their third NWSL playoff appearance and their first postseason victory and clean sheet with a 2-0 win against North Carolina Courage and are now into the NWSL Championship after beating the Portland Thorns in the semifinals.
He’s the sixth coach to win the award and the first in club history.
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Defender of the Year
Winner: Naomi Girma – San Diego Wave FC
Finalists: Sarah Gorden (LA), Ali Krieger (NJNY), Kaleigh Kurtz (NCC), Sam Staab (WAS)
Girma’s earns the league’s best Defender accolade for a second consecutive season. It’s her third individual end-of-year award after winning both defender and rookie of the year in 2022.
Despite navigating dual duty for club and country during the FIFA 2023 World Cup, Girma featured in 19 games for the Wave this season. She was a mainstay in nine of San Diego’s shutouts. Her distribution was key for the club and was among top five across the league in completed passes (948) and passing accuracy (88.86%). She was top ten in the league among defenders who led in total clearances (80) and was second on her team in tackles won (15), blocks (15), and interceptions (18).
Rookie of the Year: Jenna Nighswonger
Winner: Jenna Nighswonger – NJ/NY Gotham FC
Finalists: Messiah Bright (ORL), Alyssa Thompson (LA)
Nighswonger was drafted No. 4 overall out of Florida State and featured in 20 games this season. The rookie logged over 1,500 minutes as she navigated a new position on the pitch. Her versatility was on full display as the midfielder took over the fullback position for Gotham FC in their incredible “worst to first” season.
She scored three goals for the club tied for second among the rookie class this year, and won 35 tackles leading all rookies. The 22-year-old was also top five among rookies in possessions won (107), duels won (78), and interceptions (18).