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Predicting the 2015 Houston Dash Team Awards

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Who will win the top awards at the team banquet?

Trask Smith
When writers make predictions it's an opportunity to open ourselves up for failure. When it's all set and done, who doesn't like to look back and jeer at an absolute bomb? Or what about the surprise selection no one saw coming and turned out to be right?

Most importantly predictions are quick contemplative sessions and conversation starters, an enjoyable opportunity to debate who really deserves to win which award and why.

Year two for the Houston Dash wasn't a bleak unmitigated disaster, the team may have missed out on their ultimate goal of making the playoffs but still finished four spots better than last season. With an offseason to grow there’s a great chance at this time next year they’ll be in the playoffs.

With the NWSL season fresh in the books, now is as good as a time as any to reflect on all that was the 2015 Houston Dash season and determine who will win each of Tuesday night's season-end award.

The Awards: Most Valuable Player, Player’s Player of the Year, Defender of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Young Player of the Year, Golden Boot, Humanitarian of the Year, Ironwoman of the Year, Game of the Year

Most Valuable Player

2014 Winner: Erin McLeod

Houston Dash MVP is Ella Masar's award to lose. Masar's presence on and off the field was more impactful than anyone else on the Dash. Entering the season Masar made the difficult transition from goal scorer to defensive anchor and excelled at outside back. She was relied upon at stopping opposing forwards and helped turn Houston's defense around from a side which allowed 44 goals in 2014. Masar returned to forward at the end of the season and continued her domination scoring a goal in two straight matches. During the time

2015 Prediction: Ella Masar

Player’s Player of the Year

2014 Winner: Erin McLeod

Player's Player of the Year is the award is given to the best player and voted for by her teammates. There's a certain amount of heart needed to carry the Dash in the manner Masar does. Whether it's on the field or off she is vocal with pride for her organization and teammates. She converted to defender in training camp and served as Houston's defensive anchor throughout the season. Masar moved back to her natural position of forward for the final two games and scored consecutive goals. She best represents what it means to be a "Houston Dash" and without doubt her teammates will show their gratitude by awarding her Player's Player of the Year.

2015 Prediction: Ella Masar

Defender of the Year

2014 Winner: Stephanie Ochs

No player on Houston's backline showed up as often as converted defender Ella Masar. The World Cup resulted in reduced playing time for defenders Meghan Klingenberg, Lauren Sesselmann, Allysha Chapman  and an ACL injury forced 2014 Defender of the Year Stephanie Ochs out for the season after just the third game. As the Dash backline added Ellie Brush, Camilla and Jen LaPointe over the course of the year to cope, Masar's presence remained constant.

2015 Prediction: Ella Masar

Newcomer of the Year

2014 Winner: Kealia Ohai

This year's Newcomer of the Year likely won't be a rookie, as Ohai was in 2014 but will share a common theme. Outside of selecting Morgan Brian first overall, no offseason acquisition was more impactful for the Dash than forward Jessica McDonald from the Portland Thorns. Houston's Golden Boot recipient McDonald led the team in goals and tallied one assist on her way to a potential Newcomer of the Year crown.

2015 Prediction: Jessica McDonald

Young Player of the Year

2014 Winner: Kealia Ohai

Ohai led the Dash in assists with five and finished tied with Carli Lloyd for second-place in goals. The supporting cast around the forward improved with the additions of forwards Melissa Henderson, McDonald and Lloyd attributing to Ohai's increased playmaking ability. At just 23, Ohai has a bright future ahead with her sophomore season behind her.

2015 Prediction: Kealia Ohai

Golden Boot

2014 Winner: Nina Burger, Tiffany McCarty, Kealia Ohai

It's crazy to look back at the 2015 NWSL College Draft and recall the Portland Thorns unloading their top goal scorer Jessica McDonald for the No.12 draft pick. While the Thorns received England international Jodie Taylor from Washington for the selection, McDonald's impact on the Dash in 2015 was unmatched. McDonald led Houston in scoring with seven goals but her impact on the field could be felt beyond statistics. Her presence atop the Dash offense gave Ohai another forward to play off, helping her own maturation process. McDonald forced opposing defenses to mark her or get burned and on many occasions there wasn't a way to contain to her.

2015 Winner: Jessica McDonald

Humanitarian of the Year

2014 Winner: Brittany Bock

Brittany Bock wasn't able to make the impact she'd like to coming off an ACL injury. The midfielder only managed five starts before an abdominal injury sidelined her for the rest of the season. Despite the adversity, Bock stayed resolute with her leadership in the community, strong presence interacting with fans and participation in social organizations and causes.

2015 Prediction: Brittany Bock

Ironwoman of the Year

2014 Winner: Becky Edwards

There's no need to predict the winner of this award solely based on stats. Kealia Ohai stepped into a larger leadership role with the Dash and led the club with 1692 minutes in 19 games for the Dash. McDonald's mark of 1675 minutes was just 17 shy of Ohai, who missed only the season finale due to personal matters

2015 Winner: Kealia Ohai

Play of the Year

2014 Winner: Ella Masar

It's likely a toss up to decide who made the most captivating play for the Dash in 2015. Yes, Carli Lloyd scored a few ridiculous goals from distance, Kealia Ohai played beautiful balls across the face of goal to the head of Jessica McDonald soaring through the air and Meghan Klingenberg did the Sweden thing, recreating her infamous World Cup goal line clearance against Seattle. On Tuesday night, the award should be given to reigning Play of the Year winner Masar, for the replication of her fan-favorite shirt off goal celebration that won last year. The circumstances around the celebration differ in 2015. Prior to the match, Masar predicted that if she scores, she would follow it up with her yellow card inducing trademark celebration to Keeper Notes writer Hal Kaiser and followed through with the plan as her vision came to fruition.

Thus, a correct prediction should result in another correct prediction and Masar will win Play of the Year.

2015 Prediction: Ella Masar

Game of the Year

2014 Winner: June 11, Dash 2, Western New York Flash 1 (First home win)

Following the World Cup, Carli Lloyd's return and subsequent goal scoring streak made for a memorable stretch, as the Dash battled for a playoff spot. Houston's July 29, match against defending champs FC Kansas City seemed to standout the most. Lauren Holiday gave Kansas City the lead a mere two minutes into the match. Nine minutes later, Ellie Brush leveled the score with her first goal of the season. McDonald put the Dash ahead in the 16th minute beating Nicole Barnhart 1v1. Sarah Hagen's goal in the 84th minute, looked to have been the late equalizer Kansas City needed but Lloyd wouldn't stay silenced for a full 90. The U.S. forward scored an absolute golazo from 30-yards out off an assist from Nikki Cross in her final home match for the Dash, with four minutes left in the match. The game was a chapter in the Summer of Lloyd, as the score stretched her scoring streak to seven-consecutive matches and second-straight game winner. The Dash knocked FCKC out of fourth place that night and seemed poised to be on their way to their first playoff birth in club history.

2015 Prediction: July 29, Dash 3, FC Kansas City 2 (Carli Lloyd 86th minute game-winning-goal)