For Kicks, Jessica, Katie

For Kicks Picks: 2016 CANWNT Player of the Year

David J. Phillip

Canada Soccer announces the 2016 Canadian Women’s Player of the Year award shortly and we wanted to make sure we got our pick in before the actual announcement. The candidates list for the CANWNT Player of the Year award includes:

  • Kadeisha Buchanan
  • Sabrina D’Angelo
  • Jessie Fleming
  • Stephanie Labbé
  • Ashley Lawrence
  • Diana Matheson
  • Sophie Schmidt
  • Desiree Scott
  • Christine Sinclair
  • Melissa Tancredi
  • Shelina Zadorsky

If there is one glaring omission from this list it’s Josée Bélanger. She had a great year not just with the Canadian national team but also with the newest NWSL team, Orlando Pride. Like Ashley Lawrence, Bélanger was adjusting to an outside back role and was quite successful in that endeavour. Her versatility on the field lent itself well to a transitioning Canadian team in 2016.

Our pick for the CANWNT Player of the Year is: Ashley Lawrence. Followed by Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair and, though we wish we could write more on both Beckie and Sinclair (oh wait you can read what Jessica thinks of Sinclair this year here), we want to focus more on our top choice. But let’s just say right now, Beckie and Sinclair both had fantastic years. Like when we think about it as CANWNT fans, it makes us feel all warm and fuzzy (akin to the feeling of hearing Earth, Wind & Fire’s September in September).


Obviously, many CANWNT players had a great year — they wouldn’t have another bronze medal if all of our players didn’t play as well as they did in 2016 —but it was Ashley Lawrence who we believe should get the honour this year. Lawrence was dominant in her new fullback position (mostly left, but hey, she’ll play as a right back too) — an outstanding feat for a young player who had to adjust to her new role in a couple months (she learned the position in an Excel camp in May and was immediately put into the position in June friendlies). Making that switch is never easy, but Lawrence doesn’t get our pick for making the position switch alone. She gets our pick because she excelled in that position (along with at the beginning of the year playing really, really well in the midfield). Lawrence was absolutely incredible this year, and you can tell that by the fact that Canada played 20 games in 2016 and Lawrence saw minutes in every single one of them. Lawrence was also named Player of the Match in five games this year (two of them in Olympic matches), the highest on the team for 2016, and saw an average of 82.25 minutes.

Her shifting responsibilities in 2016 earned her a look for Player of the Year but her dominant game play made her the easy choice for our pick for the award. She has become one of the preferred corner kick takers, and provided strong delivery along the flank while becoming a sturdy defender. She was disciplined and hard to beat defensively, and chose her moments wisely when going forward. Lawrence doesn’t shy away from opposing attackers and can recover quickly on defense when need be. This year, Lawrence’s style and speed helped the team by opening up the field and created a flurry of much-needed offensive efforts.

Remember this sublime run and pass from Lawrence in the bronze medal match? Swoon.

When you look outside her play with the CANWNT, Lawrence also had a fantastic year with West Virginia University (WVU). She helped lead the team to win the Big 12 conference title (WVU remained undefeated in conference play in 2016) and to the NCAA College Cup, scoring the lone WVU goal against University of Southern California in the final. Throughout 2016, Lawrence played mostly in the midfield but fulfilled outside back duties when necessary. As a team captain with WVU, Lawrence ranks second on the team with 63 career points: 17 goals and 29 assists. This season alone she had 4 goals and 10 assists – the team leader for assists. 

via WVU’s Facebook


According to rumours, Lawrence could be headed to Paris Saint-Germain after college. If she doesn’t head overseas to play, she is expected to draft within the first round of the NWSL College Draft being held on January 12th at 12pm PT/3pm ET. Wherever Lawrence ends up, she’ll command attention. Her versatility makes her one of the best under 23 players in the world. She can take charge in the midfield or on the flank, making her a spectacular asset on any team, in any league.

For Kicks, Jessica, Katie

For Kicks Picks: 2016 CANW17 and CANW20 Player of the Year

Deanne Rose, Jessie Fleming, and Christine Sinclair/AP

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.