The key architect of one of the greatest seasons in North American women's soccer history has been given the award she so richly deserves, as Laura Harvey was named the NWSL Coach of the Year on Wednesday. A year after struggling to a seventh-place finish in the eight-team league, Harvey led the Reign to a 16-2-6 record and into Sunday's NWSL championship game.
"This is a reflection of this team's hard work," Harvey said in a team release. "Both from a player's perspective and back room staff. I'm just happy the club's hard work has got us to this point."
Harvey came to the Reign soon after owner Bill Predmore was awarded the team for the NWSL's inaugural year following a very successful stint as the head coach of the Arsenal Women. The short run up to the season was further hampered by the loss of all three of their allocated United States national team players, which was a major reason why the team opened with 11 winless games.
In Year 2, Harvey set about transforming the roster and brought in several key acquisitions, including Sydney Leroux, Kim Little and Nahomi Kawasumi. They, along with returning players Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Jessica Fishlock, were the driving forces behind the Reign clinching the NWSL Shield with five games left to play and finishing with a +30 goal-difference, 23 goals better than the next closest team. The Reign finished with eight more goals than any other team and allowed six fewer than anyone else. Along the way, the Reign set the North American women's professional record with a 16-game unbeaten streak to open the season.
"I am so happy that Laura has been recognized for her incredible work this season - it is a well-deserved honor," said Predmore. "Laura has been a brilliant leader both on and off the field. We feel lucky to have her as part of our organization."