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Naomi Girma named US Soccer’s Female Player of the Year

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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 27: Naomi Girma of USA controls the ball during the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group E match between USA and Netherlands at Wellington Regional Stadium on July 27, 2023 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Naomi Girma is U.S. Soccer’s Female Player of the Year, becoming the first defender to win the award in its history.

The 23-year-old started in all four World Cup games for the USWNT in 2023, and anchored the team to just 0.17 goals per game on the year, the best in team history.

Goalkeeper Hope Solo won the award in 2009 and defensive midfielder Julie Ertz won it in 2017 and 2019, but Girma is the first true defender to win the award.

“I’m honored and grateful to be the first defender and second Black player to win this award, but it’s really a testament to all the hard work put in by our goalkeepers, the back line and our whole team to achieve an historic year for our defense,” Girma said in a U.S. Soccer release.

“We are all very connected, work hard on the field, watch a lot of film to get better and really take pride in stopping teams from scoring. I always want to thank my friends and family, because they’ve been with me on every step of this journey.”

Girma started in all 16 games with the USWNT last year, and was also named NWSL Defender of the Year for the second year in a row.

She’s the sixth player to win both Female Player of the Year and Young Female Player of the Year, having won U.S. Soccer’s youth award in 2020.