A year ago, Sam Coffey hit the ground running upon joining the Portland Thorns. As a rookie, the midfielder had a lot to learn as she took the step from college to professional soccer. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t ready for a significant role.

Coffey’s emergence as a reliable defensive midfielder was one of the most significant developments on the Thorns run to the 2022 National Women’s Soccer League championship. She was a Best XI selection and, if not for the play of San Diego defender Naomi Girma, Coffey certainly would have been the league's rookie of the year.

Paul Danzer is a sports reporter based in Portland, Ore.

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