PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Thorns bolstered their defensive corps today, announcing the signings of defenders Courtney Niemic and Katarina Tarr.
Niemic, 21, helped lead La Salle to a third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth in 2013, helped lead a defense that only allowed 18 goals on the season and finished as an All-Atlantic 10 honorable mention after earning Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year Honors in 2012. During her collegiate career, she appeared in 87 matches, scoring 8 goals and 14 assists.
Tarr, 26, has spent the last four seasons with Frauen Bundesliga side SGS Essen, making 43 appearances (41 starts) over the last three seasons across all competitions. Prior to her time with SSG Essen, she played for German side Tennis Borussia Berlin in 2010 and the Buffalo Flash of the USL W-League, where she made 14 appearances.
Earlier in the week, the Thorns announced the acquisition of Spanish Captain Veronica Boquete and midfielder Sarah Huffman, in exchange for midfielder Courtney Wetzel, defender Kat Williamson, and a 2015 1st Round draft pick.
Bouquete, 27, has been a long-rumored acquisition since the Thorns hired Paul Riley as head coach. Appearing in 18 matches for Swedish side Tyreso FF in 2013, she recorded 6 goals. In 2012, she earned Damallsvenskan Midfielder of the Year in 2012, scoring 7 goals in 8 assists while leading Tyreso to the league crown. Prior to playing with Tyreso, Boquete has appeared for FC Energiya Voronezh (Russia), RCD Espanyol (Spain), Prainsa Zaragosa (Spain), Chicago Red Stars, Buffalo Flash, and the Philadelphia Independence, where she worked previously under Riley.
“We are delighted to bring one of the world’s top talents to Portland. Verónica is a fantastic footballer with an extremely high soccer IQ, tremendous work ethic and has the ability to break down any opposing defense,” Thorns FC head coach Paul Riley said in a press release. “Having worked with her before, I know she can be a major influence in retaining the NWSL championship. Her personality and love of football is infectious and I’m excited to get her here and add her pedigree to our talented roster.”
Internationally, Boquete has made 34 appearances, scoring 24 goals since 2005, leading Spain to UEFA Euro 2013, where they reached the semifinals, making their first appearance since 1997.
Boquete will join the Thorns following Tyreso’s involvement in the 2013-14 UEFA Womens Champions League.
“Verónica and Sarah will both provide the club with additional leadership and experience,” Thorns FC general manager Gavin Wilkinson said. “Verónica has proved to be an impact player at every level for many years, while Sarah has been a consistently strong presence on all of the teams that she has played for during her career. We feel that both of these players will be valuable additions to Thorns FC.”
Huffman, 30, made 14 appearances (11 starts) for Western New York during the 2013 NWSL season and has previously played for Pali Blues (2012), Washington Freedom/magic Jack (2009-2011), and Norwegian side Røa IL (2008). Collegiately, she played for Virginia, where she was a two-time NSCAA All-American. Internationally, she has made one appearance for the United States and also represented the United States at the U19 and U21 youth international levels.
“I’ve admired Sarah for many years. She is smart and clean on the ball,” Riley said. “She has excellent vision, a great professional attitude and I think she will fit into our style really well. Her positional flexibility will be a big plus for us this season.”
With the acquisitions of Niemic, Tarr, Boquete, and Huffman, the Thorns currently sit at 22 players on their roster, though their active roster has 19 players, with Boquete, defender Stephanie Catley, and midfielder Tobin Heath set to join the squad later in the season.