Who Will Win the NWSL Rookie of the Year Award in 2022?

Trinity Rodman – 2021 NWSL Rookie of the Year (courtesy @washintonspirit Instagram)

Trinity Rodman’s inaugural NWSL season was incredible, and she rightly won rookie of the year at just 19 years old. Watching her Washington Spirit win the NWSL championship got us thinking: who might win the rookie of the year in 2022?

Since we’re all about predictions here at SoccerDossier, it seems only fitting that we showcase a few candidates for the 2022 NWSL Rookie of the Year award. Before they’re drafted.

But before diving into the future, let’s look back at the past, and analyze the collegiate profiles of previous Rookie of the Year award winners.

Oh, and stick around until the end, because we’ve created and handed out a new award, all our own.

Previous Rookie of the Year Award Winners

2018 ROY: Imani Dorsey – Duke (ACC)

Draft Position: First Round, Fifth overall

Accolades: ACC Offensive Player of the Year, 2017 ACC All-First team, 2016 ACC All-Second team, All-Freshman Team, Mac Hermann Semi Finalist

Youth National Team Experience: U-19 camp, U-18 camp, U17 and U-15 camps

2017 ROY: Ashley Hatch – BYU (WCC)

Draft Position: First Round, Second overall

Accolades: All WCC freshman team, Mac Hermann Semi Finalist, WCC Co-Player of the Year, First team All-WCC

Youth National Team Experience: Full US National team cap

2016 ROY: Rocky Rodriguez – Penn State (Big Ten)

Draft Position: First Round, Second overall

Accolades: Mac Hermann Trophy Winner, 3 time All-Big Ten, Midfielder of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year

Youth National Team Experience: Costa Rican National Team

2015 ROY: Danielle Colaprico – Virginia (ACC)

Draft Position: First Round, Ninth overall

Accolades: All freshman team, multiple time All-ACC, ACC Midfielder of the Year, Mac Hermann semi-finalist

Youth National Team Experience: U17 and U23 US teams

2014 ROY: Julie Ertz – Santa Clara (WCC)

Draft Position: First Round, Third overall

Accolades: Freshman of the year, All freshman team, 3x First team, 2x Mac Hermann trophy semi finalist

Youth National Team Experience: U20, U23 and full USWNT caps

Looking at these profiles, three traits stand out, and if you’ve read other articles on the site, they’ll certainly sound familiar. The previous ROY’s were on All-Freshman teams, Mac Hermann watch lists (or won the trophy) and they all had youth national team experience. All markers that lead players to be listed on the Dossier, and as it turns out, win Rookie of the Year.

Three Projected First Round Picks Who Could Be The 2022 Rookie of the Year

Jaelin Howell – M – Florida State (ACC)

Mock Draft Position: First Round, First overall

Accolades: All-ACC Freshman team, Mac Hermann Trophy Winner, 4x All-ACC, 2x ACC Midfielder of the year

Youth National Team Experience: Full national team callup, U17-U23

Mia Fishel – F – UCLA (Pac-12)

Mock Draft Position: First Round, Top Five

Accolades: Pac-12 All Freshman Team, 2x First team all Pac-12, declaring early for the draft in her Junior season

Youth National Team Experience: Full national team callup, U15-U20

Frankie Tagliaferri – M – Rutgers (Big Ten)

Mock Draft Position: Mid-Late First Round

Accolades: Big Ten All-Freshman Team, 3x All-Big Ten first team, Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, Mac Hermann Watch list

Youth National Team Experience: U14-U20

Howell, Fishel, and Tagliaferri should all be first round picks and contribute early in their NWSL careers. They’re all high achievers who could easily win the award next year, and their collegiate profiles and potential draft capital show just that. Trinity Rodman is the first Rookie of the Year who declared early for the draft (and she doesn’t have a collegiate profile because she never played a game at Washington State), and Mia Fishel could very well be the next.

But there is another previous Rookie of the Year who isn’t like the others.

If you’ve noticed that Bethany Balcer, the 2019 award recipient, is missing from this list, well, it’s because she is. We’ve saved her for last because she needs her own category.

The other winners all come from big time NCAA schools and conferences, they have substantial experience on youth national teams, and were all on Mac Hermann watch lists.

Bethany Balcer didn’t have any of that. All she did was record 129 goals in her 4 year career at Spring Arbor (an NAIA school). Not 129 points. 129 goals. 30 or more every season until she’d earned NAIA Womens Soccer National player of the year 3 times. She ended her career with 303 total points. Absolute video game numbers.

She gets her own category, and for that, we’re creating and giving out the Bethany Balcer Award. Each year, it’ll go to a prolific, draft eligible, NAIA senior with gaudy numbers.

And this years recipient is…

2021 Bethany Balcer Award

Ana Paula Santos – F – William Carey

With 210 career points and 83 career goals, Santos is the clear choice for this year. After winning last years NAIA Women’s Soccer Player of the Year, she looks primed to repeat when awards are released after this season. Check out the highlights on her YouTube channel.    

Working to cover and predict the NWSL draft earlier than it ever has been before. Make sure to check out our other articles, and The Dossier, a list of NWSL draft prospects!