The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke women’s soccer’s Michelle Cooper, Kat Rader earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year

The Blue Devils totaled 5 All-ACC selections.

Michelle Cooper earned one of the ACC's top honors for the second season in a row.
Michelle Cooper earned one of the ACC's top honors for the second season in a row.

The ACC announced its end-of-season awards Wednesday, and for the second year in a row, Blue Devils have won the highest awards from the nation’s best conference.

Forwards Michelle Cooper and Kat Rader were named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, respectively, by the conference’s head coaches; Cooper also made First Team All-ACC for the second-straight year, while Rader, box-to-box midfielder Sophie Jones, goalkeeper Ruthie Jones and wingback Delaney Graham made Second Team. The five all-conference awards tie the single-season Duke record (1994, 2011, 2017), and Rader’s All-Freshman honor marks the 21st time in the past 22 years that a Blue Devil has made the All-Freshman team. Cooper and Rader each winning a Player of the Year award also gives Duke its third season with multiple players winning the ACC’s top honors (1997, 2017).

“If you get named Player of the Year in this conference as good as this conference is, and the quality of players in this conference, it speaks volumes for the type of player that you are,” Blue Devil head coach Robbie Church told The Chronicle. “And it speaks volumes for both [Michelle Cooper and Kat Rader]. Michelle's incredible; she was coming off two seasons in one (playing in the U20 World Cup and then Duke’s regular season). … It's crazy. And for her to have the year that she's had, and still playing like she is at the end of the year, it's just testimonial of her character, testimonial of her mentality. She's a different player than we've ever had here at Duke.

“What's different about Kat than some of the other freshmen that we've had here is: look at her goals—how she scored her goals, and who she scored her goals against. She has scored a ton of big-time goals. Most of the top freshmen … how many goals did they score in the ACC? You know, they score about three. She has scored the majority of her goals in the ACC.”

Cooper is the first Blue Devil since fellow striker Casey McCluskey (2001-02) to earn First Team All-ACC recognition in each of her first two collegiate seasons. Sophie Jones and Graham become the 13th and 14th players in Duke history to pick up at least three All-ACC honors as a Blue Devil.

“I definitely think Sophie has been a First Team All-ACC player this year, there's no question about it,” said Church. “I just think sometimes Sophie, because she doesn't have the stats … people take her for granted. Sophie Jones is a phenomenal player. And, in my mind and in our coaches' minds, she is a First Team All-ACC. It's still an honor to be Second Team for sure.”

Duke returns to the pitch Thursday in Cary, N.C., at WakeMed Soccer Park to face No. 2 North Carolina, the regular-season ACC co-champions, at 5:30 p.m. The Blue Devils lost 3-0 at home to the Tar Heels in their Sept. 8 meeting.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Duke women’s soccer’s Michelle Cooper, Kat Rader earn ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year” on social media.