Three women’s soccer stars from FGCU’s spring 2020 graduating class have joined the elite ranks of Eagle alumni playing in the pros.
Opal Curless, the latest to ink a contract, will play professionally with MTK Hungária FC, a club based in Hungary’s capital city that plays in the country’s premier women’s league. She joins the pro international ranks alongside former teammates Evdokia Popadinova and Marjorie Boilesen, who are now playing with clubs in Denmark and France, respectively.
“I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue my soccer career,” Curless said. “I cannot say enough how thankful I am for coach (Jim) Blankenship, the women’s soccer staff and my teammates at FGCU. I appreciate everything that they have done for me, and I am thrilled to have the chance to continue to represent the program.”
In her two years suiting up for the Green and Blue, Curless was a staple on the Eagles’ back line. She started all 36 matches that she appeared in while at FGCU and played the full direction in all but two instances during her senior season. Her efforts in her final collegiate campaign aided the Eagles in allowing just 14 goals during the regular season, the lowest of any team in the conference.
“We could not be more proud of Opal,” Blankenship said. “We are so excited for this new opportunity for her to showcase her abilities at the next level. Opal was a great ambassador for us both on and off the field and made a huge impact on our program during her time with us. I am sure she will have an incredible journey throughout her pro experience.”
Two-time All-American Popadinova signed on with AaB Denmark in the Danish First Division and arrived at the club’s training facility at the end of July. The Bulgarian native, who transferred to FGCU after spending two seasons with NAIA national champion Northwestern Ohio, had one of the most decorated careers in program history.
During her senior campaign, the three-time Bulgarian Footballer of the Year led the Eagles with 11 goals scored in 17 matches, marking her second-consecutive season with double-digit goals. With the addition of a pair of assists, she collected a team-high 24 points on the year. She also paced the league in regular-season conference goals (six) and points (13), while leading FGCU to a share of the ASUN regular season championship and the top seed in the postseason tournament. At the end of the season, she captured ASUN Player of the Year honors for her efforts.
“I’m extremely excited to play professionally,” Popadinova said. “The league here in Denmark is very good, and I believe that it will give me a great opportunity to get better. I’m grateful for my experience at FGCU because it prepared me to play at a higher level. I will do my best to continue to represent FGCU the best way possible.”
Playing on the pro stage was an individual goal that Popadinova had long before she came to FGCU, Blankenship said.
“From the first time I saw her play, I had no doubt in my mind that she would make it to this level. It is wonderful to see all of her hard work come into fruition,” he said.
Boilesen, a standout midfielder for FGCU, signed with FC Metz. The French football club plays in D1 Feminine, the country’s top league. Over the course of her three-year FGCU career, the Brazil native worked her way into the team record book in points (67, ranking fourth), assists (24, fourth), game-winning goals (nine, fifth) and goals (21, seventh).
“I am extremely excited about the opportunity that was given to me,” Boilesen said. “My dream of playing at the highest level came true. FGCU has helped me a lot through this process, and I’m grateful for everything the program did for me. The coaches and the people I met were amazing, and they helped me grow not only on the field, but off it as well. FGCU prepared me for this moment, and I’m ready to ball out.”
Blankenship said he believes Boilesen will achieve the same success in France that she found at FGCU.
“Playing professionally has always been very important to her, and it’s exciting to see that her dream has been achieved,” he said.