CHICAGO, ILL. - U.S. Soccer has announced the opening of polls for the 2012 Female and Young Female Athlete of the Year awards. A pair of University of North Carolina juniors, Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai, have been named as finalists for the U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Award.
Both players starred on the U.S. U20 World Cup Team this fall which captured the gold medal in Japan. Ohai scored the game-winning goal in the 1-0 gold medal victory over Germany off an assist by Dunn.
Fans can vote for finalists in each category on U.S. Soccer's Facebook page throughout the week. The winners will be announced Monday, Dec. 3.
The list of Female Athlete of the Year finalists includes three previous winners: midfielder Carli Lloyd (2008), goalkeeper Hope Solo (2009) and Abby Wambach (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2011). The past winners are joined by first-time nominees midfielder Megan Rapinoe and forward Alex Morgan.
Goalkeeper Jane Campbell, midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo, defender Crystal Dunn, defender Julie Johnston and forward Kealia Ohai all earn their first nominations for Young Female Athlete of the Year. Nominees must be age eligible for any of the Youth National Teams and can only win the award once in their career.
The U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, while the Young Male and Young Female awards were added in 1998. This was the first year U.S. Soccer named a Disabled Athlete of the Year.
Earlier this month Clint Dempsey was named 2012 Male Athlete of the Year and Rubio Rubin named Young Male Athlete of the Year. Felicia Schroeder earned the 2012 Disabled Athlete of the Year award.
Online votes for the Athlete of the Year awards are equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes. As in years past, the other 50 percent will be represented by votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from National Team coaches to the National Board of Directors).
U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Finalists
Carli Lloyd, Midfielder Alex Morgan, Forward Megan Rapinoe, Midfielder Hope Solo, Goalkeeper Abby Wambach, Forward
U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year FinalistsJane Campbell, Goalkeeper Vanessa DiBernardo, Midfielder Crystal Dunn, Defender Julie Johnston, Defender Kealia Ohai, Forward