Abby Dahlkemper has been named NWSL Defender of the Year for 2017. The third-year player from UCLA anchored a North Carolina Courage defense that posted a league record 12 shutouts during the season while playing in front of two goalkeepers. The Courage defense added another shutout, over the Chicago Red Stars, in a 1-0 semifinal win.
Dahlkemper arrived in North Carolina with the rest of the club upon being sold from Western New York in January. She was the 3rd overall pick by the Flash in 2015 and has started all 64 regular season matches plus four playoff games since joining the league. Additionally, Dahlkemper’s current streak of 5,580 consecutive regular season minutes played is a league record.
Outside of NWSL, Dahlkemper became a regular center back on the USWNT during 2017. She played all 270 minutes in the Tournament of Nations over the summer. She also played 90 minutes in both September matches against New Zealand.
The Courage have now been the recipients of three of the four announced season-ending awards. Earlier this week Paul Riley was named Coach of the Year and Ashley Hatch Rookie of the Year. Midfielder Sam Mewis is a finalist for Most Valuable Player which will be announced Friday.
NWSL Defender of the Year winners
2013: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2014: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2015: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2016: Lauren Barnes, Seattle Reign FC
2017: Abby Dahlkemper, North Carolina Courage