SEATTLE,WA—(Reign release) The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced today that Reign FC’s Lauren Barnes is the winner of the 2016 NWSL Defender of the Year presented by Coppertone® from Bayer’s Consumer Health Division.
Barnes is the first Seattle Reign FC player to win the award and it is the first time Becky Sauerbrunn of FC Kansas City did not earn the honor. Sauerbrunn won the award from 2013-2015.
“It was an honor to be nominated alongside the best defenders in professional soccer,” said Barnes. “I’m humbled by this award and proud to represent my teammates, coaches, Reign ownership, our great fans and of course my family and friends. I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote and to all who support the NWSL.”
Along with Sauerbrunn, Barnes was nominated with Julie Johnston and Arin Gilliland of the Chicago Red Stars, and Emily Mengers of Portland Thorns FC. The final round of voting included votes from owners, general managers, head coaches, players, media, and fans.
Barnes was a key part of the club’s record-setting defense. A starter in all 20 of Seattle Reign FC’s matches, Barnes played 1,775 minutes this season, good for second most among Defender of the Year nominees.
The defender helped Reign FC set two defensive league records throughout the 2016 season, including most consecutive clean sheets with five straight and most minutes without conceding a goal at 531 minutes. Reign FC tied for the most shutouts in the league with eight, and spent the fewest number of minutes trailing (317 minutes).
Barnes also found the back of the net this season, scoring a free kick goal in a 2-2 draw against the Chicago Red Stars on September 4th, and provided two assists on the year.