San Diego, California - The Western New York Flash, the 2013 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Championship runner-up, signed former SDSU Women’s Soccer standout Haley Palmer to a contract, the team announced.

“I am excited about the opportunity to start my professional career with the Western New York Flash,” Palmer said. “It is a great fit for me and I believe this is a place where I can develop as a player. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to play with so many great teammates at SDSU and compete for coaches who believed in me and pushed me to be my best.”

Palmer, a 5-9 left-footed defender, was invited to the Flash’s open tryout and later invited back to the team’s preseason camp where she started every game of the team’s scrimmages. The Flash open the 2014 season on Sunday, April 13, at the Washington Spirit.

“We are thrilled for Haley, her family and our program,” said SDSU head coach Mike Friesen. “Not only did we feel like she had a great opportunity to make a NWSL team, but we feel like she has the athletic ability, technical skill and work ethic to make a mark in the league. When she went undrafted (in the NWSL college draft in January) we were really surprised, but thought this might be a better chance for her to find a team that had a specific need at left back and that’s just what happened with the Flash.

“Haley has been one of the premier defenders I’ve seen in the college game, but to go compete to make a roster of 20 shows her desire and inner drive,” Friesen added. “She has improved each year as an Aztec and we feel like her best soccer is still ahead. We are so happy and proud of her. She will have no bigger cheering section than our program as she begins her professional career.”

Palmer left The Mesa as one of the most decorated players in program history. A two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, she was also the MW Freshman of the Year in 2010 and an NSCAA All-Region First-Team selection in 2012 and 2013. Palmer and the Aztecs have won the last two Mountain West regular-season and tournament championships, advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 2013, and boasted the nation’s best record at 21-2-1 in 2012. 

“We are recruiting the type of student-athletes who have the desire to play professionally and our program is reaching the level where those opportunities are open to our players,” Friesen said. “After the 2011 season, Cat Walker signed to play professionally in Finland and following the 2012 campaign, both Megan Jurado and Tiffany Hurst were invited to NWSL camps, with Tiffany making the preseason WNY Flash roster. Megan later made the Philippine National Team. For Haley to blaze this trail just opens up more resources for our current and future players.”

The Western New York Flash is one of eight founding members of the National Women’s Soccer League. The club won the inaugural NWSL Shield after finishing 2013 with the best regular-season record.

The NWSL is a nine-team Division-I women’s professional soccer league featuring national team players from Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The nine clubs are the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC, the Washington Spirit and the Western New York Flash. Based in Chicago, the NWSL is supported by the Canadian Soccer Association, Federation of Mexican Football and the United States Soccer Federation.