UCLA’s Lilly Reale wins 2022 Honda Sport Award as a sophomore
UCLA sophomore defender Lilly Reale has been named the Honda Sport Award winner for Soccer, as announced Monday by Chris Voelz, Executive Director of THE Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA).
Reale becomes just the third Bruin to win the Honda Sport Award for Soccer, joining World Cup champions Abby Dahlkemper (2013) and Sam Mewis (2014). Reale also joins soccer legend Christine Sinclair as the only other player to win the award as a sophomore.
“I am extremely honored and grateful to have won the Honda Sport Award for soccer,” said Reale. “To have even been considered for this award alongside such a talented group of female athletes feels surreal. I cannot thank my teammates, coaches, staff and family enough for helping me grow as both a player and person this year. Their hard work and guidance is what has allowed me to achieve this accomplishment.”
“I also want to thank the Bruin community of athletes, fans and students who have stood behind our team this season for all of the love and support,” she continued. “Attending UCLA has been the greatest experience of my life, and I feel beyond lucky to be surrounded by such incredible people.”
A two-year starter for the Bruins, Reale helped lead UCLA to the 2022 NCAA Championship with an unprecedented comeback from a two-goal deficit in the final 10 minutes of the game. UCLA went on to beat host North Carolina in overtime, 3-2, to capture the program’s second NCAA title. Reale, who also keyed the Bruins’ semifinal shutout win over Alabama, was named the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Reale earned All-America honors in 2022 by multiple organizations (first-team by College Soccer News, second-team by United Soccer Coaches, second-team Best XI by Top Drawer Soccer) and is a two-time first-team All-Region and All-Pac-12 honoree. She was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this season, joining World Cup champion Abby Dahlkemper as the only two Bruins to win the conference award. Reale started and played in 24 of 25 games this season, missing only the season opener due to her participation in the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. She led the Bruin defense to a 0.55 goals against average, UCLA’s lowest in eight years, and to a Pac-12 Conference-best 14 shutouts. On the offensive end, Reale scored one goal, the game-winner in the Bruins’ 1-0 victory over Washington State, and assisted on the game-winner at Oregon State. She led all UCLA field players in minutes played with 2,043.
Reale had an outstanding freshman campaign in 2021, starting in 19 games and ranking second amongst UCLA field players in minutes played with 1,683. She contributed to nine shutouts and scored one goal and one assist. Reale earned first-team All-Pacific Region and All-Pac-12 honors and was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Freshman Best XI first team and to College Soccer News’ All-Freshman first team.
In addition to her on-field success, Reale is a standout in the classroom, earning Academic All-District honors from the College Sports Communicators.
The Hingham, Mass. native helped lead the U.S. Under-20 National Team to first-place finishes at the Concacaf U-20 Championship and at the Sud Ladies Cup.
“We are so honored for Lilly to receive this year’s Honda Award for soccer,” said UCLA head coach Margueritte Aozasa. “She is now amongst a short list of legends in women’s sports. Thank you to the CWSA for this incredible recognition of Lilly and her achievements with our program.”
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 47 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2023 Honda Cup which will be presented during the live telecast of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Presented by Honda on CBS Sports Network in June.
Reale was chosen by a vote of administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. The other finalists were Tori Hansen (North Carolina), Jenna Nighswonger (Florida State) and Reyna Reyes (Alabama).
The CWSA, entering its 47th year, has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for their superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its partnership in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.4 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs.