CHICAGO (Dec. 22, 2017) – U.S. Paralympic National Team goalkeeper Sean Boyle has been voted the 2017 U.S. Soccer Disabled Player of the Year.
Boyle back-stopped the USA to its best modern-era finish at a major international competition: fifth place at this fall’s 2017 IFCPF CP Football World Championships in San Luis, Argentina. He started every game for the USA, putting together an overall 89 percent save percentage. He’s considered one of the world’s best Paralympic goalkeepers.
“Winning this award is an incredibly humbling honor. My experience with the PNT has been unbelievably impactful,” Boyle said. “There was a point in my life where I was told that I would never play soccer again. Yet, coach Sharp took me in four months after surgery, barely able to walk, and shifted the course of my life drastically.
“Travelling the world with people who have simultaneously known every limit yet no limit about their body, pushing their talent against a soccer culture that doesn't understand the word ‘excuse,’ has shaped how I see soccer as a catalyst for inclusion the world over. When a goalkeeper wins an award, it’s never an individual honor. It’s a testament to the collective unit we are, both on and off the field.”
Boyle kicked off the tournament with two shut-out victories against Australia and Northern Ireland. He made a statement with 13 saves against eventual champion Ukraine in the USA’s final group stage game, and followed it up with even bigger performances. Against England, Boyle bottled up an offense that averaged over eight goals a game, holding the Three Lions to just two scores. Stellar play in comeback wins over world No. 2 Brazil and No. 5 Ireland kept the PNT in both games and facilitated two thrilling victories.
“Sean has been remarkable since joining the team. He has kept us in matches and his save percentage speaks for itself,” said head coach Stuart Sharp. “It’s truly remarkable how much he has recovered from his operation in such a short period of time. His ability to set himself early with excellent angles and make reflex saves, makes him one of the top goalkeepers in the game.”
Off-the-field, Boyle gives back to the game through charity Soccer in the Streets, an organization that empowers underserved youth through the beautiful game.
A new voting process was put into place in 2014. Votes are collected from respective National Team coaches, National Team players who have earned a cap in 2016, American soccer league (MLS, NASL and NWSL) head coaches, select media members, former players and administrators.The Disabled Player of the Year was first awarded in 2012, with Felicia Schroeder receiving the honor. A full list of award winners can be found here.