The 2015 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award was always going to be Mallory Pugh's, so when the federation announced that the 17-year-old had earned the award, it was a mere formality. That's how good Pugh was in 2015.
Pugh has long been the jewel of the U.S. youth system so it's no surprise that she had a great year. She was supposed to, but living up to the hype is no easy task.
Pugh captained the Americans at the CONCACAF U-20 Women's Championship, where she won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot while leading the team to a first place finish and qualification for next year's U-20 World Cup. She started every game that the U-20's played in 2015, despite being just 17 years old, and had nine goals and four assists.
Next up for Pugh is UCLA and the U-20 World Cup. She is set to play for the Bruins beginning in the fall of 2016, but the U-20 World Cup is in November and December so she will have to miss part of the college season to represent her country, not just as its best player, but also its captain. Not bad for a player that will also be eligible for the 2018 U-20 World Cup.