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
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."