North Carolina Courage defender Abby Erceg has been named the 2018 NWSL Defender of the Year, the league announced Thursday. The award was voted on by club officials, players, media and fans.
Erceg played every minute of the season, one of five players to do so, logging 2,160 total minutes in 24 regular season games. She anchored a Courage backline that set a league record for fewest goals allowed with 17 and earned 11 clean sheets. The Courage finished the regular season at 17-1-6 to win the NWSL Shield and went on to win the NWSL Championship — not conceding a single goal in the playoffs.
She made 110 clearances for second-best in the league and finished in fourth for blocks with 21. The captain also made 50 interceptions, won 19 tackles and won 116 duels, including 81 aerial duels. She held a passing accuracy of 81.9% in 1,047 passes and also chipped in two header goals and two assists.
Utah Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn, Portland Thorns defender Emily Sonnett, Chicago Red Stars defender Julie Ertz and the Courage defender Abby Dahlkemper finished second, third, fourth and fifth respectively, in the voting.
The list of finalists was decided after a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. The finalists were then voted on by fans, owners, general managers, coaches, players and media.
Preliminary Round: Owners/GMs/Coaches (25%), Media (25%) and Players (50%)
Final Round: Fans (20%), Owners/GMs/Coaches (20%), Media (20%) and Players (40%)
Full List of NWSL Defenders of the Year
2013: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2014: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2015: Becky Sauerbrunn, FC Kansas City
2016: Lauren Barnes, Seattle Reign FC
2017: Abby Dahlkemper, North Carolina Courage
2018: Abby Erceg, North Carolina Courage