Thursday, December 12, 2013
By JAMES PATRICK Special to the Press Herald
BOSTON - At 6-foot-2 with a lean body and long, gangly arms, Oliver Blum looks like a goalkeeper.
Injuries have slowed Oliver Blum’s development in college, but the former Greely High standout is now in his third year as the No. 1 keeper at Northeastern.
Courtesy Northeastern University
Since winning a state championship with the Greely boys' soccer team in 2007, his career has been a process: He transferred after a year at Providence College, endured his first losing record in 2010, then played with a painful hip injury in 2011.
Not everything on Blum's soccer resume is perfect, but Blum is finally getting a chance to show the talent and athleticism that caught the attention of college coaches when he was a high school senior.
Now a senior at Northeastern University, Blum is a key component for a team that's off to a 3-1 start. Blum helped the Huskies win their first three games of the season but received a red card in the first half Sunday against Michigan, and his replacement gave up three goals in a 4-1 loss.
Still, things seem to be on track for Blum.
He played with a hip injury all last fall. A slightly torn labrum caused him to feel pain in his groin whenever he tried to kick the ball. He was scheduled for surgery before the 2011 season even started, but decided to play through the pain with the help of a few Cortisone shots.
In November, after the season ended, Blum had surgery in which doctors ground down a bone in his hips and fixed the labrum. He's not 100 percent pain-free, but he's good enough.
Blum played 110 minutes in Northeastern's season opener, picking up a 2-1 win over Providence. The next game, he played the second half and both overtimes in a 1-0 win over Marist. Then he made five saves to shut out Harvard.
"Ollie just keeps getting better," Northeastern defender Ambry Moss said. "When he's playing well, he just makes the whole team better."
Getting to this point as been a long process for Blum.
At Greely, he was the team captain, a Class A champion and the Maine Gatorade player of the year.
"He made some plays I haven't seen made before. Or since, really," Greely Coach Mike Andreasen said.
Blum went to Providence in 2008, but he never played a minute for the Friars. During the summers, he played with the Portland Phoenix of the Premier Development League, but he was behind goalie Matt Lampson on the depth chart. Lampson is now on the roster of the Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer.
Needing a change, Blum looked back to a familiar face from Maine. Northeastern Coach Brian Ainscough was the Bowdoin men's coach when Blum was in middle school. He also coached Blum on a club team in the summer. Ainscough was happy to get Blum to Boston.
"If you drew a picture of a goalkeeper, it looks like Ollie," Ainscough said. "He's long and skinny in the torso. He's got long arms and he's very astute."
Blum relies on his athleticism. He just hasn't had much of a chance to show his full potential. Until now.
Blum needs a good year to put himself on the professional soccer radar.
"I enjoy soccer way too much to give it up too easily," Blum said. "Any chance I get, I'll take. It would be a dream come true to play soccer. I can see myself shuffling off to work in a suit, but I don't see that anytime soon.
"I'll travel. I'll learn a new language, if that's what I have to do."
Andreasen chuckled when asked if Blum would continue playing after college. No, he won't start in the English Premier League. But Andreasen could envision Blum on an MLS training roster. Heck, Blum would probably show up at Fitzpatrick Stadium on a Sunday afternoon to play for free. Whatever keeps him in the game.
"Obviously, if you're on the training roster, you're not making much cash," Andreasen said. "If it meant playing soccer, he'd be OK with that.
"I don't see Ollie in a business suit, going to Wall Street."