Nov. 7, 2012
BERKELEY - The Pac-12 Conference took notice of California's talented team in a big way on Wednesday, when it named Ifeoma Onumonu its Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, placed Onumonu and Olympian Betsy Hassett on its All-Pac-12 First Team, named Emi Lawson to its second team and awarded honorable mention to Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick. Onumonu also earned a spot on the all-conference freshman team.
A product of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Onumonu made a big splash in her debut season for the NCAA Tournament-bound Golden Bears. She led all Pac-12 freshmen in points (27), goals (11) and assists (5) and ranked second in the Conference in goals and points and tied for sixth in assists per game (0.26). Onumonu - who also led the Bears in goals and points - tied with Hassett for the team's top assist mark and also paced the Bears in game-winning goals (4). Onumonu was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week in early October after a weekend in which she notched three goals and an assist in a pair of wins over Colorado and Utah.
"It's a wonderful honor and well deserved," Cal head coach Neil McGuire said of Onumonu's award. "She's worked tirelessly all season to help her team and her teammates have success."
Hassett - the New Zealand Olympian who competed in London last summer - ranked second in goals (6) and points (17) as well as tied for second in game-winning goals (2) for the Bears in her final season in Berkeley. This is the second straight conference honor for the senior midfielder, as Hassett earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 Second Team in 2011. A talented international player who hails from Auckland, Hassett competed with the Football Ferns in the 2011 World Cup as well in the Under-20 World Cup in 2009.
Lawson, a junior, is a strong, fast central defender who can also contribute to the attack. The Seattle product tied her career high in points (8), scored two goals and added four assists after starting all 20 games this season. One of the Bears' most durable players, Lawson has started in 56 of the 62 games she has played in for Cal. She also garnered conference honors in 2010, when she earned a spot on the Pac-10 All-Freshman Team.
This is Fitzpatrick's second consecutive all-conference honorable mention. The Pleasanton, Calif., native ranked third in points (11) and tied for third in goals (4) for the Bears this season. One of those goals was the gamewinner in a 2-0 victory over Oregon on Sept. 28.
"They are three incredibly talented players, with Betsy and Kaitlyn as the driving force in our midfield all season long and Emi as a force on our backline," McGuire said.
The Bears take part in their ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 1 p.m., when they play a first-round match at Pepperdine.