In the early 2000s, Umeå IK stood at the forefront of women’s soccer. The Swedish club won European Cup titles in 2003 and ’04 with players such as Brazilian forward Marta, Swedish striker Hanna Ljungberg, plus Finnish national teamers Laura Osterberg Kalmari and Sanna Valkonen, formerly of the Boston Renegades.
During that time, Rachel Bloznalis (Upton, Mass.) was taking her first steps on the soccer fields of Central Massachusetts, drawing inspiration from New England Revolution all-time great Taylor Twellman. Bloznalis, now 24 and a starting central defender for Umeå, even aspired to play in MLS, since no women’s professional leagues had endured.
“I wanted to be a professional soccer player and I was No. 20, after Taylor Twellman,” Bloznalis recalled last week. “It was something I always wanted, but going to high school and college I lost the dream, or left it because it wasn’t realistic it could happen, and I thought of being a doctor or physical therapist.