BOCA RATON, Fla. - Former Florida Atlantic University striker Sammy Rowland recently made her professional debut, in her native country, with the Crystal Palace Ladies Football Club in England's FA Women's Premier League.
Rowland, a native of Welling, Kent, England, returns home after a two-year stint with the Owls' squad, and a year following where she finished up school while being in charge of the team's video. Her senior year, she was the team leader in goals and points, and was named Second Team All-Conference USA and Third Team NSCAA All-Region.
"It's an honor to sign with Crystal Palace and have the opportunity to play in England again," said Rowland. "I'm really looking forward to training and playing at the professional level on a regular basis."
Crystal Palace LFC earned a promotion to the FA Women's Premier League two years ago and competes in the Southern Division. They finished fifth of 11 last year, and currently rank third in the division with 32 points, trailing only C & K Basildon (37) and Charlton Athletic (36). Even with the recent tie, the team still holds a 10-3-2 mark in 2017-18.
Rowland hit the ground running and earned a start in her first match with the Eagles, in a scoreless draw with West Ham on Feb. 4. She was mentioned many times on the team's twitter feed (@PalaceLadiesFC) as having great chances at her first pro goal. Scoring became Rowland's calling card both at FAU and her previous school, but she credits the Owls' coaching staff and program with making her a more complete player.
"I can't thank FAU enough for what they did for me over the past two years," she said. "I came to FAU from my junior college with a proven ability to score goals, but missing some key elements from my game to take me to the next level. The coaching staff and I were committed to getting me to that next level. Through consistent 1-on-1 training sessions, increased confidence and hours of video analysis, I believe Coach (Patrick) Baker and Coach (Michael) Crane pushed me to that next level and helped me become the player I am today. I know I still have a long way to go, but I'd be a lot further from my goals if it wasn't for my time at FAU."
The Eagles are scheduled to play on the road next, on Sunday, Feb. 25, against Queens Park Rangers in West Drayton. First kick will take place that day at 2 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, or 9 a.m. local time.
"FAU will also hold a special place in my heart and I will always be rooting for them," said Rowland. "The program is heading in a real positive direction and the future is very bright for the players and coaches."
To follow along with Rowland and Crystal Palace L.F.C., visit their page at http://www.crystalpalaceladiesfc.co.uk.