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Ashlyn Harris nabs top goalkeeper honor

Ashlyn Harris lobbied to get home to play in Orlando and is now the Pride's first individual award winner. (Photo Courtesy Orlando Pride)

Ashlyn Harris lobbied to get home to play in Orlando and is now the Pride’s first individual award winner. (Photo Courtesy Orlando Pride)

Ashlyn Harris, one of the cornerstone players in the Orlando Pride’s expansion season, is the 2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year. The native of nearby Satellite Beach fell into the Pride’s hands in the expansion draft and spent the season wowing her hometown fans with regular doses of outstanding saves.

In May, Harris ripped off three consecutive shutouts and brought her minutes streak to 299, lofty marks for a team in its second month. Her most dramatic saves, if not her best, were in the dying minutes of the Pride’s June 23 win over the Dash. In stoppage time she had to shift her weight to reach for a Rachel Daly bicycle kick and then scramble to her feet to knock away Cami Privett’s second try. The Pride then ran a counter that ended with Jasmyne Spencer scoring the game-winning goal.

Unfortunately Harris’s defense came back from the Olympics battered and bruised the the Pride did not win after the break. She finished the season 5-9-1 with a 1.33 goals against average and 4 shutouts.

Harris played her first three NWSL seasons in Washington but when the Pride were launched she made no secret of her desire to play at home. Expansion draft rules prevented the Spirit from protecting all three of their U.S. allocations–Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger being the others. Rather than try and put the screws to the Pride, new Spirit coach gracefully left Harris unprotected and the Pride took her with their second pick (the first pick was Meghan Klingenberg who had already been traded to the Thorns as part of an earlier trade involving the Reign and Dash.)

Harris beat out Michelle Betos and Alyssa Naeher who won the award the last two years respectively.

NWSL Goalkeepers of the Year
2013: Nicole Barnhart, FC Kansas City
2014: Alyssa Naeher, Boston Breakers
2015: Michelle Betos, Portland Thorns FC
2016: Ashlyn Harris, Orlando Pride

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