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Notebook

Blauner has new perspective on BU soccer career

Rachel Blauner of East Bridgewater was out for two years due to injuries.

Steve McLaughlin

Rachel Blauner of East Bridgewater was out for two years due to injuries.

Now healthy, Blauner returns to field for BU

Rachel Blauner arrived at Boston University as a highly recruited midfielder with a reputation for scoring.

Two years later, the East Bridgewater High graduate is seeking to reestablish those credentials.

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She was limited to 12 games as a freshman because of an ankle sprain. Her sophomore season was over after two games. She suffered a season-ending ankle injury with five minutes remaining in a 1-0 win over Dayton.

“I tore my tendon and chipped out a piece of cartilage and I was out for nine months,” said Blauner, the first girl at East Bridgewater High to score more than 100 career goals (she finished with 102).

“The team has been so supportive. Being out for so long definitely gives you a different perspective on the game.”

Even after two years of relative inactivity, her skills are still impressive. Her one career goal, scored as a freshman, came with 18 seconds left to give BU a 1-0 win over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

“We’re very happy that she’s back,” said BU coach Nancy Feldman .

“It’s been a long road for her. She has all the qualities of the player we recruited and more so. I remember that goal she scored very well.”

Feldman hopes to see more of the same this season.

Blauner started both of BU’s first two games and picked up an assist on the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over 19th ranked Boston College when she sent a low-ball cross to freshman Christina Wakefield.

For Feldman, the play not only reminded her of Blauner’s first career goal, but also sent an indication that the time she spent on the sideline last season wasn’t totally lost.

“She is more mature and has a better understanding of the game and she is calmer and more composed on the field,” said Feldman.

Feldman said that was clearly evident against BC, when Blauner sensed that Wakefield was getting into position to score the ball and fed her a low pass across the goal.

“The goal that Rachel scored as a freshman was almost the exact same situation as the one against BC,” said Feldman, “but this time Rachel was the player that delivered the ball.

“Rachel saw Wakefield running into space and got the ball to her, and that was the game winner. You’re trusting that the player will get that pass. It was incredibly coincidental.”

The 5-foot-5 Blauner, known for her speed and her relentless pursuit of the ball, agrees that last year’s absence helped her to return as a stronger player, even though it was difficult to watch from the sideline. BU advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament before dropping a 2-1 decision to Santa Clara.

“You learn a lot when you watch for that long,” said Blauner. “I studied our style of play and it actually was helpful in my development as a player.

“I got to see our team have a really successful season. Even though I wasn’t able to contribute on the field, our team is like family. We’re all in it together and I felt completely part of their success.”

Athleticism runs in her own family. Her mother, Julie , played soccer at Syracuse. Her sister, Hannah , is a member of the women’s rowing team at Syracuse.

Blauner, who traveled internationally in high school as part of the US Olympic Development Program, spent a month in Uganda last summer as part of a volunteer program that uses soccer to teach life lessons to underprivileged children.

Before her injuries, Blauner had her sights set on continuing to compete internationally, perhaps with the US Women’s team.

Now, her focus is much more narrow.

“That is every kid’s dream, and it’s a huge goal of mine,” said Blauner, a journalism major at BU.

“I look up to those girls so much. For now I need to focus on one game at a time and giving it my best each game. Doing the best you can will set you up for the future.”

Feldman is also excited about the future of BU sophomore goalie Bridget Conway of Norwell. After seeing just four minutes of playing time as a freshman, she started the second half of the BC game and sparked the Terriers’ comeback by shutting out the Eagles (four saves) to earn the win. Conway received honorable mention Rookie of the Week honors in the Patriot League. Conway is a 2012 graduate of Norwell High and was MVP of the South Shore League as a senior.

“Bridget had a wonderful game against BC and has been competing to start,” said Feldman. “She has had a quick learning curve and I expect that she will make a solid contribution this year and has a bright future at BU.”

Abington’s Langley is cocaptain again

Abington resident Deb Langley has been named a cocaptain of the Massachusetts Maritime volleyball team for the second consecutive season. She will share the duties with Lauren O’Shaughnessy (Yarmouth Port).

Langley, a graduate of South Shore Vocational Technical High School, has been a starting setter for the Bucs for the last three years.

As a junior, she led the Bucs with 138 set assists and 32 service aces while finishing second with 133 digs.

“Deb and Lauren are tremendous leaders and ambassadors for our program both on and off the court, and their work ethic is one that I know their teammates will emulate,” said Mass Maritime coach Chris Ratches. “They know what is expected of them both as a student and an athlete, and they will continue to set that positive example.”

John R. Johnson can be reached at jjohnson49@comcast.net.
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