The stage was set at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, the stakes were at their highest. The championship game and the gold-medal match was to be either won or lost during a dramatic overtime shootout. Maddie Rooney, the U.S. goaltender, born the year before the United States last won the gold in 1998, made the pressure-filled final save, stopping Canada’s Meghan Agosta to give the U.S. the win it has coveted for two long decades. This victory broke Canada’s streak of four straight Olympic gold medals in women’s hockey. This moment of brilliance was a lifetime in the making, and Rooney’s stellar performance makes her this year’s Team Sportswoman of the Year Award winner.
As a member of the No. 1-ranked U.S. National Women’s Hockey Team, Rooney earned three wins in three starts at the 2017 Four Nations Cup. The Minnesota-born goalie made 18 saves in the championship game against Canada, giving Team USA its third straight title. Rooney’s dominant performance gave the United States the momentum it needed going into the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
As a first-year player, Rooney helped the United States bring home the Olympic gold for the first time in 20 years. The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s junior goaltender from Andover, Minn., spent last season with the U.S. National Women’s Team and eventually as a member of the 2018 Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Rooney was one of five players to centralize in the midst of their college eligibility and returned to the University of Minnesota-Duluth an Olympic gold medalist.
During the 2018 Olympics, she led all tournament goaltenders with a 1.16 goals-against average and posted a .945 save percentage, ranking second-best. Rooney accumulated an astounding 87 saves over the course of the four games, allowing just five goals. In May, Rooney was named the 2018 Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year by USA Hockey, joining an elite group of the best hockey players to have ever played the game.
The competitive fire that has forged a champion burns greatest in Rooney, because instead of resting after her Olympic victory, she seeks an NCAA championship with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
Every year, at our Annual Salute to Women in Sports, we recognize an individual sport athlete and team sport athlete whose performances over a 12-month time span have been exceptional. Past winners include Maya Moore, Carli Lloyd, Venus and Serena Williams, Jessica Mendoza, Ashleigh Johnson and Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Simply put: our Sportswoman of the Year Award is one of the most prestigious in the game. Learn more here.