Sky Blue FC announced their 2017 team awards on Wednesday, led by Australian international Sam Kerr, who took home two team awards. Kelley O’Hara, Nikki Stanton and Kailen Sheridan were also among the award winners.
Most Valuable Player
Completely unsurprisingly, this year’s team Most Valuable Player honor went to star striker Sam Kerr, who netted 17 goals to lead the league in scoring and break the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) single-season goals record. As a result, Kerr was also awarded the NWSL Golden Boot award at the start of the postseason.
Kerr’s 17 goals this season not only led the team in scoring for the third consecutive season, but they also increased her NWSL career total to 43, another league record. She became the first player in the league to score four goals in a single game and the first player to score multiple hat tricks in a single season when she led Sky Blue to a 5-4 home win over Seattle. Her dynamic play week in and week out saw her named to the NWSL Best XI and four consecutive Teams of the Month (May-August) and earned her multiple Player of the Week accolades.
Defender of the Year
In her fifth season with Sky Blue, outside back Kelley O’Hara was named the club’s Defender of the Year. Despite splitting time between Sky Blue and United States women’s national team (USWNT) duties, O’Hara made 17 starts in 18 appearances for the team, scoring four goals and tallying three assists. She was also instrumental in the team’s success on and off the field, even being named co-captain in the wake of Christie Pearce’s season-ending accumulation of injuries.
Midfielder Nikki Stanton was awarded the Unsung Hero award, a new award for the team this season. She saw a career-high 13 starts in 16 appearances for the club and was a key component to the Sky Blue defense, shifting between the midfield and backline as needed by her team. Although she only recorded one assist on the season, her impact on the team was much larger than what any stat sheet would reflect.
Goal(s) of the Year
Another new award for 2017 is the Sky Blue Goal(s) of the Year award, which goes to a Sam Kerr-led five-goal team performance on August 19 against Seattle Reign FC. Kerr (4) and Maya Hayes (1) combined for all five goals in the second half to lead the New Jersey-based club to yet another dramatic come-from-behind win at Yurcak Field.
Save(s) of the Year
Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan’s 11-save performance against the North Carolina Courage on May 24 at WakeMed Soccer Park earned her the Save(s) of the Year honors, the third and final new award this season. Although Sky Blue lost to the home team, 2-0, Sheridan’s 11 saves were crucial in preventing a much larger win margin for the team that would go on to win the 2017 Shield. They also set a new NWSL team record for saves in a single match.