Veronica Napoli, who holds Northeastern’s all-time women’s soccer scoring record with 36 goals and 89 points, has signed a contract to play for the Boston Breakers, a professional club in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite.
She scored the first goal in league history and added an assist in her professional debut on May 10 against the Chesapeake Charge at Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md.
“I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Napoli said of her strong debut performance. “I was nervous because I found out I was in the starting lineup a couple of hours before the game. When I scored, I was focusing more on doing well and not screwing up.”
Northeastern soccer coach Tracey Leone, who got her first glimpse of the speedy striker as an opposing coach on the Harvard sidelines five years ago, encouraged Napoli to try out for the Breakers.
According to her practiced eye, Napoli, who completed her final year of collegiate athletic eligibility last season, has the speed, skills and passion for the game to compete alongside North America’s top stars.
“I think Veronica could play for a very long time if that’s what she chooses to do,” Leone said.
Napoli’s goal in her professional debut should help the young star build confidence in playing against seasoned veterans, she noted.
“It lifts a weight off your shoulders when you go into a professional environment where the demands are higher and you score so early on,” Leone explained. “It couldn’t have happened at a better time.”
Kristine Lilly, an assistant coach with the Breakers who played for the United States women’s national soccer team for 24 years, offered Napoli an important piece of advice: According to Napoli, the national star told her to “play as much soccer as possible both before and after practice.”
“It’s really inspiring because she obviously knows the game and brings so much insight,” Napoli added.
In the fall, Napoli will return to Northeastern to begin her senior year.
Leone would like the prolific scorer to become her club’s student assistant coach. “Just having her at practice and playing against our team would make us better,” she said. “Veronica is such a pleasant person and we would love having her around.”