Rampone named to NWSL’s Second XI Team

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by TOM SLATER

Christie Rampone hasn’t decided whether she will return to Sky Blue FC for the 2017 season. But if Rampone does decide to call it a career, she will have gone out with style.

The 41-year-old captain was named to the 2nd XI NWSL team. The NWSL announced the results of the Best XI and 2nd XI teams based on votes by club officials, players, media that cover the league on a consistent basis and fans.

Click here for the full list of the NWSL Best XI

http://www.nwslsoccer.com/national-women-s-soccer-league-announces-2016-best-xi

Rampone was also named Sky Blue’s top defender as the club announced its team awards. After ending her storied international career on her own terms before the season began, Rampone concentrated on her club duties and led an otherwise young Sky Blue FC team.

Rampone became just the second Sky Blue FC player in NWSL history to play every minute of every match during the regular season, joining CoCo Goodson who achieved that feat in 2013.  Long known as being the ultimate teammate and mentor, Rampone often played with a back line that included two rookies and one second-year player starting beside her, in addition to being in front of two different goalkeepers who had one start among them coming into the 2016 season

Other Sky Blue award winners were:

Most Valuable Player: Sarah Killion
The flow of play for Sky Blue FC in 2016 was orchestrated through the midfield, and the maestro of the production was Killion. The second-year player, whom Sky Blue FC selected as the second overall pick in the 2015 NWSL College Draft, started all 18 games in which she appeared this season, accumulating 1,620 minutes of action. On the year, she registered three goals and one assist, and she was consistently the player who set up scoring plays for her teammates on the offensive end while still always holding down her defensive responsibilities.

Golden Boot Winner:  Sam Kerr
For the second consecutive season, Australia international Sam Kerr is the Sky Blue FC Golden Boot winner, which is awarded to the player who accumulated the most goals during the season. Despite playing in just nine matches and making six starts this year, Kerr recorded five goals in 616 minutes of action. In another impressive feat, Kerr scored in four consecutive matches towards the end of the 2016 NWSL campaign, and she has now registered 11 goals and two assists in just 18 games played (15 starts) for Sky Blue FC over the past two years.

Most Improved Player: Kristin Grubka
Defender Kristin Grubka did not start the first six games of the season before being inserted in the Starting XI for Sky Blue FC’s seventh match of the year. She never left the field again over the remainder of the 2016 campaign. Playing alongside Rampone at center back, Grubka improved with each passing game while continually sacrificing her body to make goal-saving stops and end dangerous offensive threats by the opposition.
Rookie of the Year Class: Caroline Casey, Leah Galton, Raquel Rodriguez, Erin Simon, Erica Skroski
Heading into the season, not many experts aaA gave Sky Blue FC much of a chance to contend for a playoff spot. However, one of its major unknowns soon became a huge strength for the club, as a powerful rookie class became an instrumental piece of the puzzle in its pursuit of success. Sky Blue FC head coach Christy Holly was just a few days into his tenure when the team headed into the 2016 NWSL College Draft in January, yet the Ireland native arrived on draft day with a tactical game plan and a tremendous amount of research. With the second overall pick, he took Costa Rica international Raquel Rodriguez, who was named the NWSL Rookie of the Year earlier this week. He then went up top with his next selection by taking England international Leah Galton, who recorded three goals and four assists in just 14 games played. He then improved the back line by taking defender Erica Skroski, who played all but six minutes of the 2016 NWSL season. The final selection of the draft was goalkeeper Caroline Casey, who made nine starts this year and registered 32 saves. One last addition to the 2016 Sky Blue FC Rookie of the Year class is defender Erin Simon, who the team was fortunate enough to acquire through open tryouts in March. Simon made 18 starts over 19 appearances while also adding two assists to the offensive stat sheet. In a season where so many first-year players performed like savvy veterans, these five players assemble the 2016 Sky Blue FC Rookie of the Year class.