Ashley Hatch has been named 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year.
Hatch was drafted by the North Carolina Courage as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft out of BYU. In a team with attacking players like Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald, Hatch soon found her way into the starting lineup and immediately began making an impact on Paul Riley's high-press offense, starting in 13 games of her 22 appearances for her rookie season, playing a total of 1373 minutes.
On June 3rd against FC Kansas City, Hatch started in place of McDonald who was injured and scored her first professional goal in the 67th minute off an assist from Williams. After that initial goal, Hatch scored in three consecutive games for the Courage in June and was named to the NWSL Team of the Month.
Hatch would score seven goals in the regular season, three of them were game-winning goals against the Boston Breakers, Seattle Reign, and Washington Spirit. The rookie also recorded one assist, and she finished second on the team in scoring behind leading goalscorer Williams, who tallied nine goals for 2017.
The 22-year-old was a part of a Courage team that finished with a 16-7-1 record, first in the NWSL, becoming the first team to clinch a playoff spot, a home playoff game, and winning the NWSL Shield. They also tied the 2014 Seattle Reign by winning 16 regular season games. In the semifinal, in front of the 10,017 fans, North Carolina defeated the Chicago Red Stars, a team they were 0-3 in 2017, on an 89th-minute goal to reach the NWSL Championship where they eventually lost to the Portland Thorns 1-0.
Hatch is the second member of the North Carolina club to be recognized for the end of season awards. Head coach Paul Riley was named the 2017 Coach of the Year. Abby Dahlkemper is nominated for Defender of the Year, Katelyn Rowland is up for Goalkeeper of the Year, and Sam Mewis is a Most Valuable Player finalist. These last three awards are yet to be announced. The full list of nominees can be found here.