Jenna Nighswonger is July’s NWSL Rookie of the Month
On August 3rd, the National Women’s Soccer League announced that NJ/NY Gotham FC midfielder/defender Jenna Nighswonger has been named Rookie of the Month, presented by Ally, for the month of July.
“It’s exciting, but I don’t like to get too excited because it’s a team sport,” Jenna Nighswonger told The Local W. “Individual awards are nice, but I hope everyone knows I wouldn’t be able to do it without my teammates.”
Teamwork seemed to be the theme for Nighswonger who earned her second Rookie of the Month distinction along with an inclusion in July’s Best XI. “I’m still in a new position. If I didn’t have my center backs and everyone on the team helping me and giving me confidence, I wouldn’t have gotten these recognitions,” she said.
The fourth overall pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft, Nighswonger has been a key contributor to Gotham’s success this month. Most notably, she was a crucial part of Gotham’s 3-1 Challenge Cup win over the Orlando Pride with a goal and an assist, her first multi-point performance of her NWSL career. She also led the team with 35 completed passes in the win.
As Nighswonger’s confidence grows, she credits the leadership of team captain Ali Krieger as a critical factor in her development.
“She instills so much confidence in me and has that mentality of, ‘I have your back no matter what.’ Playing in a new position and knowing that the person behind you has your back no matter what happens gives me the confidence to go forward, defend better, and makes me want to be a better teammate,” Nighswonger explained.
Along with Nighswonger, Gotham striker Midge Purce also earned a spot on July’s Best XI. For the rookie, seeing Purce’s dedication to coming back from injury has been inspiring. “It’s a testament to her resilience,” she explained. “[Purce] was working so hard to come back, she deserves this accolade times ten. Mentally, she’s one of the strongest players on the team and she deserves this recognition so much because of all the work she’s been putting in behind the scenes.”
Entering the final stretch of the 2023 NWSL Season, Nighswonger continues to find confidence and growing comfort in her role at Gotham. “It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “Rookie season is always a challenge, but I like the team on and off the field. It’s a good group of people, and I couldn’t be luckier.”
Gotham FC returns to action in Saturday, August 9th taking on the North Carolina Courage at Red Bull Arena in the Challenge Cup. The game kicks off at 7:30pm.