NWSL Awards races: Picks and favorites for every postseason award

It is getting down to the wire in the NWSL, so what better time to predict than end of season award winners than ahead of week 17?
NJ/NY Gotham FC v Washington Spirit - 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup
NJ/NY Gotham FC v Washington Spirit - 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages
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Sean Nahas
2023 NWSL Draft / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Rookie of the Year

Predicted winner: Jenna Nighswonger

2022 Recipient: Naomi Girma

The youth revolution in the NWSL has taken a jump this season, leading to what has to be considered one of the most difficult decisions for Rookie of the Year. Emily Madril has been the definition of solid at the back for Orlando while Messiah Bright continues to make waves up top. The quality within the youth does even stop there. In New Jersey/New York, wing back Jenna Nighswonger has quietly made a name for herself in her first season out of Florida State.

The 2023 No. 4 overall selection has completed the third most passes on Gotham while leading the side in crosses into the penalty area. At predominantly a left-back, Nighswonger has shown no fear getting into the action up top. With two goals and an assist in May, the rookie was named to the NWSL Team of the Month.

In all competitions, the versatile winger has contributed over 1,400 minutes to date, recording four goals and two assists in that time. Her composure on and off the ball combined with her duel-winning abilities are quite remarkable for someone her age. Gotham's No. 32 has been given the league's Rookie of the Month honors twice. The same amount last year's winner, Girma accumulated.

Coach of the Year

Predicted winner: Sean Nahas

2022 Recipient: Casey Stoney

It seemed like a long shot before the season that North Carolina would be fighting for the No. 1 seed in addition to being in the Challenge Cup semifinals. That is where we are now. Sean Nahas and his incredible coaching staff has rebuilt this Courage side through a new possession-based style of play. Guided by its midfield led by Ireland international Denise O'Sullivan, NC has continued to wear teams down.

They have conceded fewer goals than they have played matches in the league. You can't make that up. Without Debinha, and Diana Ordonez, North Carolina has created a culture of unselfishness where everyone has a role whether its on the pitch or as an impact substitute. Olivia Wingate has made an impression as a rookie while Narumi Miura stood out in her midfield role. You can bring up the defeat to the Thorns last week, but overall, Nahas and the entire club has done an exceptional job following an offseason highlighted mostly by departures.

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