NWSL Shield

The NWSL Shield is an annual award given to the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) team with the best regular season record, as determined by the NWSL points system. The NWSL Shield has been annually awarded since 2013, and is recognized as a major trophy by the league.

NWSL Shield
Awarded forNational Women's Soccer League team with the best record in the regular season
Presented byNational Women's Soccer League
First awarded2013
Currently held byNorth Carolina Courage
(2019) (third shield)
Most awardsNorth Carolina Courage
(three shields)

North Carolina Courage, having earned three NWSL Shields each since the league's inception in 2013, have won the most shields of any NWSL team as of 2019.[1][2]


When the NWSL was launched in 2013, the league's format was set up similarly to other contemporary North American leagues. After the regular season, the NWSL Playoffs were held with the top four teams vying for a spot in the postseason championship match. The club with the most regular-season points was awarded the NWSL Shield and earned the top seed in the playoffs.[3]

Point system and tiebreakers

Since the 2013 inaugural season, the system of awarding points in the NWSL is the same as the international standard: three points for a win, one for a draw, and no points for a loss.[4] In the event of an end-of-season tie in total accumulated points, the following tie-breakers are used among all teams with the same number of points:

  1. Head-to-head record: The most points earned against all other teams that are tied on points.
  2. Goal differential: Goals-for minus goals-against during the season.
  3. Goals for: Total goals scored throughout the season.
  4. Head-to-head road record: The team with the most points earned on the road against all other teams that are tied on points.
  5. Road goal differential.
  6. Road goals for.
  7. Coin toss.

All tiebreakers involving goal counts (goal differential, goals for) include all regular-season games, not just games against tied teams.


Season Winner Record Points /
Pts per game
Playoff result Win #
Games Won Lost Tied
2013 Western New York Flash 221048 38 / 1.73 Lost Championship (to Portland Thorns FC) 1
2014 Seattle Reign FC 241626 54 / 2.25 Lost Championship (to FC Kansas City) 1
2015 Seattle Reign FC 201334 43 / 2.15 Lost Championship (to FC Kansas City) 2
2016 Portland Thorns FC 201235 41 / 2.05 Lost Semifinal (to Western New York Flash) 1
2017 North Carolina Courage 241671 49 / 2.04 Lost Championship (to Portland Thorns FC) 1
2018 North Carolina Courage 241716 57 / 2.38 Won Championship (vs Portland Thorns FC) 2
2019 North Carolina Courage 221444 46 / 2.09 TBD 3
   Team also won the NWSL Championship Final.

In 4 years (out of the 6 years of league existence) NWSL Shield winners have beaten the 4th-place team in the semifinals and then lost to the 2nd- or 3rd-place team in the NWSL Championship game.


Shield winners

Team Wins Years won
North Carolina Courage 3 2017, 2018, 2019
Seattle Reign FC 2 2014, 2015
Western New York Flash 1 2013
Portland Thorns FC 1 2016

See also


  1. "Seattle Reign win NWSL Shield for 2nd straight season". ESPN. August 27, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  2. "NC Courage clinch third straight NWSL Shield after win over Utah". wralSPORTSfan.com. September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  3. Lauletta, Dan (February 26, 2013). "The Lowdown: A look at NWSL rules and tiebreakers". The Equalizer. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  4. "2016 Competition Rules and Regulations". National Women's Soccer League. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
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