By John Philip Wyllie
Former scholastic and soccer Torrey Pines All-American Rachel Buehler was back in San Diego on March 28. The Del Mar native started at center back and played a full 90 minutes for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team in its 3-0 conquest of Mexico at USD's Torero Field.
While Buehler has had 31 previous appearances with the national team and 13 starts, Sunday's match marked the first time that the "Buehldozer," as she is affectionately known, has competed with the USWNT in front of her hometown fans. The hard working Buehler made the most of it.
For much of the afternoon she was locked in battle with Mexican scoring star Maribel Dominguez. Buehler and her defensive partners got the best of Dominguez and limited Mexico to just two shots.
National team coach Pia Sundhage directed praise at Buehler following the game.
"She is my role model. Her attitude is something special. She has been starting on that bench behind Kate Markgraf and Christie Rampone for so long and getting into games 10 minutes here and 45 minutes there. She is my role model because she is a professional player and she brings everything every time that she plays. She is strong, physical and good in the air. We will need her in the future," Sundhage added.
Buehler was obviously thrilled by Sunday's outcome.
"I definitely had a good opportunity to play and I just tried my best. So that and working hard on and off the field is all you can do," she said.
While Buehler is very much focused on the present and her future with the USWNT, she has never forgotten her roots or the people that helped her develop into the player that she has become. Torrey Pines coach and North County coaching icon Dennis Costello is one of them.
"Dennis Costello is a great man. He has given so much to women's soccer," Buehler said. "He has dedicated his life to women's soccer and it was cool to have had him coach me and to be part of his and the school's soccer legacy."
Buehler said she has returned to Torrey Pines several times to speak to the soccer teams since graduating in 2008. "Once, I even jumped into one of their practices and played a little. I will always have a strong connection to Torrey Pines," she said.