Reign FC forward Bethany Balcer is the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League Rookie of the Year, the league announced Tuesday. She is the first Reign player to win the award.
Balcer won with 57.9% of the vote, with the Washington Spirit’s Sam Staab earning 22.5% and fellow Spirit player Jordan DiBiasi earning 19.6%. The winner was chosen by a combination of players, club owners, head coaches, general managers, members of the media, and fans.
“I’m incredibly thankful to Vlatko (Andonovski) for taking a chance on an undrafted player, and for pouring into me throughout the season to help me develop,” Balcer said in a statement. “It’s crazy to me how well this season went, and I wish there was some way to articulate how grateful I am. I hope that this shows that with hard work, determination, and a great group of people supporting you, you can make your dreams a reality.”
The Reign player was signed to the supplemental roster a few days before the start of the 2019 season, and was the first NAIA player to sign for an NWSL team. She appeared in all 24 of the Reign’s regular season matches and played in the team’s playoff semifinal defeat at the North Carolina Courage.
Playing with a frequently rotated group between injuries and international responsibilities, she was one of the few constants the team enjoyed in 2019. She ended the season with six goals and two assists, making her the Reign’s leader in goals scored. She ranked fifth across the league for shots, taking 55 over the course of the season.
The accolade follows up two others the player has received since the end of the 2019 season. Last week, she was named to the league’s Second XI, and was previously named the NWSL Players Association’s first rookie of the year.