Virginia alum started in every regular season game for Red Stars
Chicago, Ill. – Chicago Red Stars midfielder Danielle Colaprico has been voted 2015 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Rookie of the Year, it was announced today. After starting in every regular season game for her side, the former Virginia standout was chosen by fans, owners, general managers, coaches, players and the media from a group of three finalists that also included Chicago forward Sofia Huerta (Santa Clara) and Western New York Flash midfielder Samantha Mewis (UCLA).
“I definitely didn’t see it coming and I feel really honored,” said Colaprico in reacting to the news. “I think it says a lot about the team and about how well we’ve done this year. My teammates really deserve a lot of credit. Coming in as a rookie is hard, but they were very welcoming and made me feel comfortable right from the start. I think that played a huge role in me getting the award.”
The New Jersey native’s consistent performances at holding midfielder helped her club to its best finish since the NWSL’s inaugural season in 2013, as Colaprico’s skills as a ball winner and a precision passer proved vital in protecting the backline and in linking it to the attack. With the 22-year-old going the distance in all but one of her 20 games, the Red Stars led the NWSL for ten consecutive weeks and ended up finishing second in the standings behind Seattle Reign FC.
Colaprico’s only goal of the campaign was the crucial game-winner in a 1-0 win over Sky Blue FC in early May. The first-year professional would continue to prove vital for her squad in subsequent weeks, as she remained a rock in midfield during the absence of Chicago’s eight 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup players, including U.S. aces Julie Johnston, Christen Press and Lori Chalupny.
If Johnston’s path is any indicator, the sky is the limit for Colaprico, as her Red Stars teammate was nominated for the World Cup Golden Ball this year after winning the 2014 NWSL Rookie of the Year award.
“I really didn’t know what it was going to be like coming into Chicago,” said U-23 U.S. standout Colaprico in remembering her early days with the club, “but I did think that if I worked hard and gave it my best every day, I would earn my starting spot. I think the international absences helped us young players a lot because it gave us a chance to show what we have to offer and to earn our spots on the field. That was definitely a big part of what helped me in this whole process.”
Chicago Head Coach Rory Dames was full of praise for his standout midfielder. With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro less than a year away, and with the senior national team featuring a number of players over the age of 30, the man who picked Colaprico at number nine in this year’s NWSL College Draft agreed that great things are possible for the newly crowned Rookie of the Year.
“Danny had an outstanding campaign,” said Dames. “The fact she came in and led the team in minutes as a first-year player speaks volumes. Having her in the holding midfield role completely changed the style we were able to play. Similar to last year with Julie, we felt comfortable giving Danny a lot of responsibility, and I thought she was fantastic in the way she took it on. She will only continue to get better, and I really think she could make a strong push to get a look for the Olympic roster as well as the next World Cup cycle.”
Coming off their most successful season in NWSL history, the Chicago Red Stars aim to bring home the trophy in 2016. Season ticket packages are available here.