La Salle's Niemiec Signs Professional Contract with Portland Thorns of NWSL
In March, Niemiec was invited to train with the squad during its preseason camp and signed her official contract late last week—just seven days before the 2014 season kicks off.
"It has been an unbelievable experience," Niemiec said. "Two months ago I was in Philly in college and now I'm across the country playing the sport I love. It's hard to believe how fast everything happened but I wouldn't change anything."
La Salle Head Coach Paul Royal said: "Our entire staff and team were so happy to hear the news about Courtney's signing with Portland. We knew preseason would pose new challenges for Courtney, however, we also knew her abilities and style of play would suit coach [Thorns head coach] Paul Riley's system perfectly."
"I told [Riley] when he inquired about Courtney that I felt she would not only make the squad, but that he would also be the one to help get her onto the full National Team someday," Royal added.
Niemiec earned Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year recognition in 2012 and remained one of La Salle's most consistent and stalwart defensive presences, being named first team all-conference during the 2013 season. Anchoring a defense that allowed only 18 goals all season, Niemiec also pitched in as an offensive threat, netting a goal against George Mason on La Salle's senior day.
"Courtney has always had the drive and commitment to reach the professional level," Royal said. "She has given so much of herself to La Salle Soccer, her teammates and our wonderful university and this opportunity to play at the professional level is a great culmination of an outstanding collegiate career."
The Philadelphia native is the first player in La Salle women's soccer history to sign a professional contract.
"I've gained so much experience from my teammates and the coaching staff so far," Niemiec said. "I came into this preseason with an open mind, wanting to learn as much as I can. When I signed my contract for the first time I could not believe it was actually happening, but I'm so proud of myself and what I've accomplished."