Tomorrow Canada Soccer announces the 2016 Canadian Women’s U17 Player of the Year award (voted by media and coaches). The Canadian Women’s U20 Player of the Year award will be announced on December 14th. We wanted to get in our picks before those announcements (as we don’t have a vote but are never shy on opinions).
The candidates list for the CANW17 Player of the Year award includes: Julia Grosso, Lysianne Proulx, Emma Regan, Deanne Rose, Sarah Stratigakis, and Hannah Taylor.
Our pick for the CANW17 Player of the Year is: Deanne Rose. Followed by Sarah Stratigakis and Emma Regan.
Stratigakis and Regan both had tough runs with the U17 and U20 Canadian World Cup teams, but without both of them in those tournaments Canada would have seen much greater defeat. Both Stratigakis and Regan showed in the U20 tournament that they could play beyond their age (they are 17 and 16, respectively) but Stratigakis snuck out ahead of Regan in our picks as she often had the bulk of the responsibility in Canada’s midfield. She was slogging away in the middle of the field even when the rest of Canada’s players were struggling. She managed to make plays out of almost nothing at times, and wrestled for the the ball from much better opponents, and heck, maybe we just feel a teeny bit bad for her because she was almost entirely our only midfielder for most the of U20 Women’s World Cup. Regan is a very, very close pick just behind Stratigakis as she showed excellent technical skill in the fullback position, pushing forward to create a respectable offensive effort while also being a very good defender (which sometimes tends to be a skill lacking in Canadian fullbacks at the youth level).
Our top pick, Deanne Rose, had a spectacular year, most notably with the Canadian women’s national team. Rose started the year off helping Canada qualify for the Olympics. She played in three games, scoring three goals in the tournament – not too shabby for the young player who had only played 114 minutes for the Canadian women’s national team before that tournament. Rose continued to develop and improve throughout the year, but had a hard time scoring goals against tougher opponents as the year went on. She continued to be a threat every time she was on the field, showing her pace and maturity on the ball, and came close to scoring on multiple occasions. In the Olympics, Rose broke her scoring drought by getting the first goal against Brazil, and assisted Christine Sinclair on the game-winning goal in the bronze medal match. In the subsequent tournaments with the U17 and U20 teams she was the best Canadian player on the field. Rose effectively made the leap from “who’s this kid?” in early 2016 to “WHOA, LOOK AT THIS KID!” in late 2016. I imagine there will be more “whoa” moments in 2017 for Deanne Rose and CANWNT fans.
The candidates list for the CANW20 Player of the Year award include: Gabrielle Carle, Jessie Fleming, Alex Lamontagne, Marie LeVasseur, Victoria Pickett, Bianca St-Georges.
Our pick for the CANW20 Player of the Year is: Jessie Fleming. Followed by Bianca St-Georges and a four-way tie between Carle, Lamontagne, Levasseur, and Pickett (because we honestly didn’t see enough game time to get a fair assessment of any of the other candidates).
Our U20 players had a rough go this year, and besides Bianca St-Georges as a defensive stalwart throughout much of Canada’s short-lived run at the U20 World Cup, it was extremely hard to gauge many of the players from 2016; the only matches they played were the three matches at the World Cup (their qualifying tournament for the World Cup was held at the end of 2015). St-Georges also had a very successful run with West Virginia University (WVU), making the NCAA College Cup in 2016. She even overcame what was a game-ending injury (but not a season-ending injury – phew!) in the semi-final match against North Carolina.
But our top choice is Jessie Fleming. She really shone through this year, spending all of her time with the Canadian women’s national team. By mid-2016, Fleming was an essential part of the national team’s midfield as Ashley Lawrence moved into the fullback position. Fleming has superb ball-handling and a vision that’s on another level. Her ability to make quick decisions is what set her apart this year. Fleming’s creative play-making provided an offensive spark that had been sorely lacking in the team’s midfield. That spark proved vital, not only with the Canadian national team but also with her new college team, UCLA. Fleming had a spectacular debut with UCLA, scoring two goals. Fleming’s abilities helped bolster UCLA’s season, helping take them to the third round of the NCAA tournament.