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Team First
Chris Mannix
September 11, 2006
Amy Caldwell had to make a tough decision before leading Braintree (Mass.) High to a state soccer title
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September 11, 2006

Team First

Amy Caldwell had to make a tough decision before leading Braintree (Mass.) High to a state soccer title

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AT FIRST glance Braintree (Mass.) High attacker Amy Caldwell--all of 5'1" and 105 pounds--hardly looks like one of the nation's top soccer players. But Caldwell, 17, the reigning Gatorade Player of the Year for Massachusetts, comes up big when it counts.

The sport is a family affair for Caldwell, whose father, Larry, played for the Hartford Bicentennials of the North American Pro Soccer League. Her older brother, Keith, 23, was drafted by the Colorado Rapids of MLS; sister Andrea, 20, is a college star; and younger brother Scott, 15, attends the IMG Soccer Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Caldwell clan often played spirited games of two-on-two in the family's basement, where the walls were padded with old mattresses. "We're so competitive," says Amy, "that those games were pretty intense."

That basement training has served her well. As a junior, Caldwell--who orally committed to Boston College in May--scored 43 goals and led Braintree to the finals of the 2005 Division 1 state tournament. But the night before the title game against nationally ranked Minnechaugh High, Caldwell got a call. She had previously been named to the under-16 national team and was told that if she wasn't in training camp in Florida the next day she would be replaced. Caldwell had to choose between leaving her Braintree teammates before their biggest game or missing a chance to showcase her skills on a national stage. Caldwell stayed. But as kickoff approached, she was despondent. Minutes before the game started, Braintree coach Fred Marks ordered his players back on the bus, and in an effort to rally them he cranked up Madonna's Like a Prayer, the team's song. Before long everyone, including Caldwell, was fired up and bumping to the Material Girl. "They were so loud the bus was rocking," says Marks.

The plan worked. After falling behind 2-0, Braintree tied the game in the final minutes of regulation. Caldwell scored the game-winner in OT. Later she was invited to the under-17 national team's training camp in January. "I don't have any regrets," she says. "I wasn't going to leave my team."

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