Long Beach State sophomore defender Kaitlin Fregulia was named the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year for the 2017 campaign. She joins former 49er alumna Taylor Nelson as the only 49er players to receive the award.
Fregulia’s defensive capabilities were one of the brightest spots for Long Beach in a season that was filled with failed expectations and shortcomings. With her poise and leadership in the back, she helped the 49ers record seven clean sheets before her season was cut short due to a torn Achilles tendon.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” Fregulia said. “It’s very humbling to know that I’m respected in that way, considering I didn’t get to finish out the season.”
Fregulia wasn’t the only one who was pleasantly surprised by the recognition; head coach Mauricio Ingrassia was amazed at the announcement and said it was a testament to the dominant season Fregulia had.
“I was blown away,” Ingrassia said. “But I think people rightfully realized that she was having a breakout year.”
Fregulia also had a strong offensive showing for a defender, registering two goals and two assists throughout the campaign.
“Kaitlin is a good player,” senior forward Tori Bolden said. “I think her winning the defensive player of the year proves that everyone else sees it too.”
Her most important goal of the season came when she scored the decisive game-winning goal in a 3-2 double-overtime victory at UConn back in Sept. 14, but thought her performances would go unnoticed because of the season-ending injury. Winning such a prestigious award has done wonders for Fregulia’s psyche.
“[The award] gave me a little boost of self-esteem,” Fregulia said. “I feel like I could bounce back from this injury and continue to grow and just be better for next season.”
Fregulia’s motivation to push through therapy and get back to the upper echelon of the team is sky-high thanks to the recognition, and she is eager to get back on the field and return Long Beach State back to its winning ways.
“I don’t want to rush anything, but it makes me want to try my hardest to get to the point where I want to be and fully recovered,” Fregulia said.