The NWSL released the list of nominees for 2021 NWSL end-of-season awards on Friday, and the OL Reign are represented in three categories. Jess Fishlock is up for MVP, Laura Harvey for Coach of the Year, and Alana Cook is a Defender of the Year nominee.
Voting for these awards opens today, and fans can cast their votes here. In addition to MVP, Defender, and Coach of the Year, fans can also vote for Rookie and Goalkeeper of the Year and the NWSL Best XI.
One word of caution: you only get one chance to vote when you begin, so don’t close your browser until you are ready to submit. Your vote must be submitted by Tuesday, November 9 at 8:59 PM PT. The final round of voting uses a weighted scale of players (50%), owners/GMs/coaches (20%), media (20%) and fans (10%). Winners will be revealed leading up to the NWSL Championship game on November 20.
Here’s a bit more on each OL Reign nominee.
Jess Fishlock, MVP
Fishlock played in 23 of OL Reign’s 24 regular-season games on top of flying to Europe and back a number of times to represent Wales on international duty. At the age of 34, Fishlock still looks like one of the most active players on the field — constantly patrolling the midfield and leading the club on both sides of the ball. If there’s a player that represents the grit and heart of an OL Reign player, it’s Fishlock.
In addition to her endless Dragon energy, Fishlock scored five goals — most of them rockets — and added four assists this year. She also had 21 interceptions, a 66% tackle success rate, and despite being just 5’ 2”, won 56% of her aerial duels this year. The midfielder earned NWSL Team of the Month honors three times — in May, August and October.
Laura Harvey, Coach of the Year
Laura Harvey has a well-deserved Coach of the Year nomination in what might be the strangest year for this category. Just four coaches in the league managed their squads for the entire season, and Harvey stood out in her three months leading the team. She joined OL Reign following the conclusion of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and helped the team climb their way up to a second-place finish in the regular season.
The Reign went 2-4-1 when Farid Benstiti was coach, which equaled 1 point per game. When Benstiti was let go for inappropriate comments to players, the Reign immediately turned things around under interim head coach Sam Laity, going 4-2-0, with one of those losses coming in Laity’s first match after stepping into the role only a day or two prior.
The team found real consistency, joy and goals under Harvey, going 7-2-2 to close out the year, equal to 2.1 points per game. Laity and Harvey combined for the best results in the league during the second half of the year.
Alana Cook, Defender of the Year
Centerback Alana Cook has been nominated for the NWSL Defender of the Year award. In her first full NWSL season, she stepped into the OL Reign backline immediately after coming to the team from Paris Saint-Germain in June. Since joining the team, Cook has played every minute of every match, for a total of 19 matches and 1,710 minutes.
She averaged 4.5 clearances per game and 2 interceptions, while also winning 52% of her duels and 62% of her tackles. Cook is also an important part of OL Reign’s possession. She averaged 53 passes per 90, with an 85% pass completion rate. That puts her among the top 5 in the league in pass completions per game. On top of that, Cook conceded only eight fouls throughout the season.
Nominees for each of the 2021 NWSL Awards are:
Defender of the Year: Alana Cook (OL Reign), Caprice Dydasco (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Sarah Gorden (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Menges (Portland Thorns FC), Carson Pickett (North Carolina Courage)
Goalkeeper of the Year: Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC), Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Kailen Sheridan (NJ/NY Gotham FC)
Rookie of the Year: Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Victoria Pickett (Kansas City Current), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit)
Coach of the Year: Laura Harvey (OL Reign), Scott Parkinson (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Mark Parsons (Portland Thorns FC)