Arizona soccer’s freshman class was touted as one of the best in the nation heading into the 2018 season, and it did not disappoint.
Freshman center back Hallie Pearson started every game and bolstered the backline, forward Brooke Wilson was a potent scorer before breaking her leg, and forward Iyana Zimmerman and midfielder Iliana Hocking were key players off the bench. (Well, until the NCAA Tournament when Zimmerman broke into the starting lineup.)
Then there was midfielder Emily Knous, who finished fourth on the team in points after tallying four goals and three assists in 21 games (16 starts).
That was good enough to land a spot on TopDrawerSoccer’s Freshman Best XI second team, meaning she was recognized as one of the top 22 freshmen in the country. Knous was also named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team last month.
Of course, Knous was not your typical freshman. The Long Beach native enrolled early last January which helped her hit the ground running once the season got underway in August.
Knous scored all four of her goals in the first seven games of the season, including two in a big 3-1 win over a Baylor team that went on to the Elite Eight.
“I think her enrolling early really helped because she was able to practice with us for a whole semester, she was able to play college soccer before all the other freshmen came in, and she just has a maturity level on the field where she’s not nervous on the ball,” UA defender Morgan McGarry said during the season.
“She’s able to withstand some pressure and I think just having her as an attacking center-mid or outside-mid and being able to connect (passes) and also work back and back-press and defend, she’s been a great addition.”
The Wildcats, who won an NCAA Tournament game and finished fifth in the Pac-12, are set up for another strong season in 2019, as they return all but two starters.
Knous’ playing time diminished a bit toward the end of the season, but she is expected to have a major role next year and beyond.
Knous is also one of Arizona’s top performers in the classroom and one of the more active members in the community. Among other things, she volunteers with the Lapan College Club, a local outreach program that engages kids at Wakefield Middle School.
“They have a soccer practice from 4 to 5:30 every Monday, so I go and hang out with the kids and teach what I can,” Knous said in September. “They’re an awesome group of kids.”
Also fun fact: Knous can play the violin while juggling a soccer ball: