Even though it may not be a complete surprise, especially to those of us who've watched her all season long, the NWSL announced today that San Diego Wave FC defender, Naomi Girma, was named both Rookie of the Year and Defender of the Year for the 2022 campaign. It's both the first and second-ever award for the rookie out of Stanford, who had a season that will go down as one of the best rookie seasons the NWSL has ever seen.
Girma is the first NWSL rookie ever to win two awards to kick off a career, and to do so as a defender is no small feat. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, Girma was a steady presence on the Wave FC backline, finishing the regular season with 95 clearances, 24 interceptions and 20 tackles in 20 games. The San Jose, California native alsoregistered 176 recoveries and led all league defenders in possession won in the defensive half.
Girma enjoyed a more than 90 percent passing accuracy, the best clip among San Diego defenders and a top-10 percentage in the league. She also boasted a 71 percent duel success rate, a league best among backs who played at least 14 games. She was a huge reason for San Diego's defense finishing second-best in the league, and why her goalkeeper was able to rack up so many clean sheets en route to a Goalkeeper of the Year honor herself.
Girma has shown that defenders are definitely worthy of a lot more attention, and worth consideration when discussing the world's best talents. Not just a spectacular season with Wave FC in the NWSL, Girma also had a year to remember Internationally. Making her USWNT debut in 2022, she immediately cemented her place as a regular fixture on the call-up sheet, with eyes dead set on the upcoming World Cup roster. Calling the sky the limit seems confining for a player who's already reached atmospheric levels of consistency and production.
San Diego Wave may have had their season end earlier than they would have wanted, but with players like Naomi Girma to continue to build with and around, this is a team that will be competing for Championshiops for many, many years to come. Congrats to Naomi Girma on an immaculate start to what will surely be an incredible career!
How do you feel about the Rookie and Defender of the Year brace? Leave a comment below!