EUGENE, Oré. – Youth Leah Freeman was named Pac-12 Goalie of the Year, the conference office announced Tuesday. Freeman is the first player in program history to earn league top goalie honors.
“It’s amazing to be recognized by the other coaches in the conference,” Freeman said. “I am extremely honored and humbled, especially with this conference filled with incredible goaltenders.”
Freeman was also named to the All-Pac-12 First Team for the second straight season, while Ajanae Respass was selected to the All-Pac-12 First Team. Freeman is the first Duck to be named to the Pac-12 first team twice.
“We’re incredibly proud of Leah and Nae,” the Oregon head coach said. Graeme Abel. “Watching Leah’s journey and evolution over the past three years has been special.”
Freeman led the Pac-12 with 114 saves in 2022, which was the most among all major conference goaltenders and ranked eighth nationally. She finished the season with the fourth-highest single-season saves total in program history. She also led the conference in saves per game, averaging 6.71 per game, a figure that ranked ninth nationally.
The Berkeley, Calif., native was instrumental in the Ducks’ 2-0 upset against 15th Washington on Sept. 23.
Freeman had a career-high 14 shutout saves, which was the most in the Pac-12 this season and was just one save short of the Oregon school record. The 14 saves were the most by a Duck guard since Domenique Lainez tied Sarah Peters’ school record of 15 saves against Texas A&M in 2003.
“I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such an incredible group of teammates who have always strived to enable us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, as well as teammates who have shown leadership. through their experiences,” Freeman said. . “And although it’s an individual award, it represents the back line as a whole. We also have a coaching staff that has pushed me so hard, allowing me to grow as an individual on and off the field.”
In addition to the game against Washington, Freeman also recorded shutouts against New Mexico State (2-0), Hofstra (1-0), and Utah (1-0).
During the season, Freeman became Oregon’s career leader in shutouts with 18 and a goals-against average of 1.02 per game. The 2022 preseason Hermann Trophy watchlist contender is also tied for fifth in career saves with 253 and sixth in career wins with 17.
“Leah continued to push herself on and off the court to give herself the tools to have great success,” Abel said. “She’s still at the very beginning of her journey and we can’t wait to see all of her future accomplishments.”
Respass led Oregon with four goals and 10 points this season. She scored twice at Gonzaga and won the game against No. 15 Washington. She also scored against New Mexico State. Her 19 shots were second on the team and she also had two assists.
“Nae has done a great job leading our front row this year,” Abel said. “She’s played with a number of different teammates at the top but has consistently been able to be a threat in our games. What she’s taken this year will give her great experience for the future and allow her to continue to evolve within our program.”
The Highlands Ranch, Colorado native is the first freshman team duck since Freeman in 2020 and is the first forward to make the Oregon team since recently crowned NWSL Champion Marissa Everett in 2015.
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