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.
|Awarded for||National Women's Soccer League team with the best record in the regular season|
|Presented by||National Women's Soccer League|
|Currently held by||North Carolina Courage|
(2019) (third shield)
|Most awards||North Carolina Courage|
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.
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.
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. 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:
- Head-to-head record: The most points earned against all other teams that are tied on points.
- Goal differential: Goals-for minus goals-against during the season.
- Goals for: Total goals scored throughout the season.
- Head-to-head road record: The team with the most points earned on the road against all other teams that are tied on points.
- Road goal differential.
- Road goals for.
- Coin toss.
All tiebreakers involving goal counts (goal differential, goals for) include all regular-season games, not just games against tied teams.
Pts per game
|Playoff result||Win #|
|2013||Western New York Flash||22||10||4||8||38 / 1.73||Lost Championship (to Portland Thorns FC)||1|
|2014||Seattle Reign FC||24||16||2||6||54 / 2.25||Lost Championship (to FC Kansas City)||1|
|2015||Seattle Reign FC||20||13||3||4||43 / 2.15||Lost Championship (to FC Kansas City)||2|
|2016||Portland Thorns FC||20||12||3||5||41 / 2.05||Lost Semifinal (to Western New York Flash)||1|
|2017||North Carolina Courage||24||16||7||1||49 / 2.04||Lost Championship (to Portland Thorns FC)||1|
|2018||North Carolina Courage||24||17||1||6||57 / 2.38||Won Championship (vs Portland Thorns FC)||2|
|2019||North Carolina Courage||22||14||4||4||46 / 2.09||TBD||3|
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.
- "Seattle Reign win NWSL Shield for 2nd straight season". ESPN. August 27, 2015. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
- "NC Courage clinch third straight NWSL Shield after win over Utah". wralSPORTSfan.com. September 21, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
- Lauletta, Dan (February 26, 2013). "The Lowdown: A look at NWSL rules and tiebreakers". The Equalizer. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
- "2016 Competition Rules and Regulations". National Women's Soccer League. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.