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Boston Breakers release 2016 team awards

There were some bright spots to be found in a dim season.

Stephanie Yang

The Boston Breakers have released the results of their 2016 team awards.

Golden Boot: Natasha Dowie

Defender of the year: Whitney Engen

Rookie of the year: Brooke Elby

Most valuable player: Julie King

Players’ player of the year: Angela Salem

Dowie undoubtedly was a bright spark of light for the Breakers this season. She won the golden boot despite only playing in seven games for the team. Dowie wasn’t even supposed to be available this season but the stars aligned, contractual issues played out in Boston’s favor, and she was able to cross the pond, promptly scoring in her first game for Boston. She had three goals in 605 minutes, with 21 shots total and 10 shots on goal, the most SOG out of the whole team.

Engen was some needed steel in the spine for the team, even though she wasn’t able to stay with Boston the entire season due to the Olympics. For a breakdown of some of her stats, take a gander at this nice article on NWSL defensive play, but suffice to say that Engen was definitely a key player, not just for her play, but her leadership of the back line and her presence allowing Julie King to push wide.

Elby was a name that Breakers fans didn’t necessarily know at the beginning of the season, but they certainly did by the end. She eventually earned a fairly regular starting spot in the back line, especially after the retirement of Mollie Pathman, and was as hard-nosed as they come.

King was a player that most fans probably didn’t realize how much they’d miss until she wasn’t able to play, like when she was forced to sit out a game due to yellow card accumulation. For being a fullback, King was important attacking piece and was called upon to sweep up the right side, as well as to provide another target on set pieces. She got two goals and an assist on the season and played a couple of games wearing a face mask after breaking her nose.

And as for Salem, after Kassey Kallman, she has the most minutes played this season with 1699 in 19 games with 19 starts. Salem has quietly done the gruntwork in the midfield all season long, having to adjust halfway through when she lost her partner on the pitch, McCall Zerboni, to a trade with Western New York. She improved throughout the season too as she settled into her role and the team.

No one is denying it was a rough season, but especially when times are tough, it’s nice to stop and think about the good things the team was able to produce as well. These players definitely deserve recognition after a grueling season that at times felt like an emotional meat grinder. Goodbye 2016; may 2017 treat us all a little more kindly.