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.