Freeman Named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year
EUGENE, Ore. – Junior Leah Freeman has been named Pac-12 goalkeeper of the year, the conference office announced Tuesday. Freeman is the first player in program history to earn the league's top goalkeeping honors.
"It feels amazing to be recognized by the other coaches in the conference," said Freeman. "I am extremely honored and humbled, especially with this conference full of amazing goalkeepers."
Freeman was also named to the all-Pac-12 first team for the second straight season, while Ajanae Respass was selected for the Pac-12 all-freshman team. Freeman is the first Duck ever to be named to the Pac-12 first team twice.
"We are incredibly proud of both Leah and Nae," said Oregon head coach 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 highest total among all major conference goalkeepers and overall 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 contest, a figure that ranked ninth nationally.
The Berkeley, Calif., native was instrumental in the Ducks' 2-0 upset of No. 15 Washington on Sept. 23.
Freeman made a career-high 14 saves in the shutout, which was the most in the Pac-12 this season and was just one save shy of the Oregon school record. The 14 saves were the most by a Duck keeper since Domenique Lainez tied Sarah Peters' school record of 15 saves against Texas A&M in 2003.
"I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by such an amazing group of teammates who always put in the work to allow us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, as well as teammates who have shown leadership through experiences," said Freeman. "And while it is an individual award, it represents the backline as a whole. We also have a coaching staff that has pushed me so much allowing me to grow as an individual on and off the field."
In addition to the Washington game, 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 in goals against average at 1.02 allowed per game. The 2022 preseason Hermann Trophy Watch List candidate is also tied for fifth in career saves with 253 and is sixth in career wins with 17.
"Leah has continued to push herself on and off the field to give herself the tools to have great success," said Abel. "She is still at the very start of her journey and we can't wait to see all her future achievements."
Respass led Oregon with four goals and 10 points this season. She scored twice at Gonzaga and had the game-winner against No. 15 Washington. She also scored against New Mexico State. Her 19 shots was second on the team and she also had two assists.
"Nae did such a great job leading our front line this year," said Abel. "She played with a number of different teammates up top but was constantly able to be a threat in our games. What she took this year will give her great experience for the future and will allow her to continue to evolve within our program."
The Highlands Ranch, Colo., native is the first Duck on the all-freshman team since Freeman in 2020 and is the first forward to make the squad for Oregon since recently-crowned NWSL champion Marissa Everett in 2015.
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