CHICAGO (Sep. 27, 2018) –North Carolina Courage captain Abby Erceg was voted the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Defender of the Year for the 2018 NWSL season, the league announced today.
Erceg, 28, is the first international player and the second Courage player to win the award. The New Zealand native came to the NWSL in 2014 and joined the Western New York Flash in 2016. The Courage captain was one of only five players across the NWSL to play every minute (2,106) of every game this season.
“It’s definitely been an accolade in the making and it’s taken a solid three years to get to the point where I was injury free and performing at a level to even be considered,” said Erceg. “In saying that, individual awards are interesting in a team sport because I have to rely so much on my teammates to help me get to the point I am currently at. Without them, this award means nothing, so this is for them.”
Utah Royals captain Becky Sauerbrunn, Portland Thorns’ Emily Sonnett, Chicago Red Stars’ Julie Ertz and the Courage’s Abby Dahlkemper finished second, third, fourth and fifth respectively, in the voting.
2018 Defender of the Year Voting Results:
Erceg helped to lead a Courage defense that allowed the fewest goals in the league and earned 11 clean sheets. She made 110 clearances (2nd in the NWSL), 21 blocks (4th), 50 interceptions and 19 tackles won. She won 116 duels, including 81 aerial duels, which ranked 5th in the league. She held an 81.9% passing accuracy (1047 passes) and added 2 goals and 2 assists.
The Whangarei, New Zealand native was a key factor in the Courage’s 3-0 victory over the Thorns FC in the 2018 NWSL Championship on Saturday. She and her defensive teammates were able to keep the high-powered Portland offense to only three shots on goal as they shut out the Thorns and claimed their first NWSL Championship.
List of NWSL Defenders of the Year:
YEAR DEFENDER CLUB
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
2018 Abby Erceg North Carolina Courage
The NWSL awards are voted on by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.