Brush named inaugural Player of the Year

At the start of Canberra United's W-League soccer season, a few people had puzzled looks on their faces when Ellie Brush was named captain.

AT THE start of Canberra United's W-League soccer season, a few people had puzzled looks on their faces when Ellie Brush was named captain.

But Brush silenced any doubters by becoming one of the league's best defenders and doing enough to earn herself her first Matildas cap.

Last night Brush capped off her excellent W-League season when she won the United player of the year award.

Coach Robbie Hooker said he knew what Brush was capable of after overseeing her switch from being an attacker to a defender in the ACT Academy of Sport team over the past two years, but even he was surprised at how well she handled the W-League pressure.

''Three or four months ago there was people that were asking, 'Ellie who?''' Hooker said.

''And then when I named her as captain as well, but the last three or four months the decisions I made, first to sign her as a player and then as captain, well I think they've probably been the best of my coaching career.

''I knew she could do really well, but I wasn't sure how she would stack up against players all around the country that I hadn't seen, but week-in week-out she played so well against those Matildas, it was pretty obvious she was our best defender along with Thea [Slatyer] and also she led the team unbelievably well.''

Brush was one of three award-winners in the inaugural Canberra United awards.

United's goalkeeper Lydia Williams was named players' player and speedy striker Ashleigh Sykes won the rising star award in a close result over defender Bec Kiting.

Sykes's award caps off an exciting 12 months where she went from school soccer in Dubbo to earning her first Matildas cap.

Sykes and her identical twin sister Nicole were identified by a NSW country coach for their speed and went straight into Matildas training camps with Australian Tom Sermanni.

Hooker signed the twins this season and while Nicole did well in her limited game time in defence, it was Ashleigh who pulled plenty of experienced backlines apart with her speed.

Almost all of the Canberra-based United players are expected to play for the ACTAS in the under-15 Capital Football boys' competition when it kicks off in two months.