San Diego Wave FC and the National Women’s Soccer League today announced that defender Naomi Girma was named the 2023 NWSL Defender of the Year, earning the honor for the second-straight season.

Becoming the first Wave defender to earn the postseason accolade two years in a row, Girma helped to lead the team to an 11-win season and the 2023 NWSL Shield. Solidifying her place as an anchor of the San Diego backline, Girma was among the top five players in the NWSL in passes completed (948) and passing accuracy (88.68%). 

In her second professional season, Girma led a Wave defense that allowed only 22 goals and 91 shots on goal during the season, good for second-lowest and third fewest in the league, respectively. In 19 regular season appearances, Girma conceded only four fouls in 2023 as she led a squad that conceded only 222 fouls during the regular season, good for fourth-fewest in the league.

Along with also being named to the NWSL’s 2023 Best XI First Team on Monday, Girma was named to the NWSL Best XI during the months of March/April, May and September/October 2023. During September and October, Girma held down the defense as she played every regular season minute and led a backline that recorded four shutouts and allowed just two goals in five matches. Her 284 accurate passes and 38 possessions won made her as much of an attacking threat as a defensive stalwart.

Girma’s steady presence on the backline earned her selection to the U.S. Women’s National Team that participated in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.