Sarah Callaghan, Tufts University
The ups and downs of her senior season with the Tufts University women’s soccer definitely finished on the up side for tri-captain Sarah Callaghan (Northborough, Mass.). After a knee injury forced her to miss five matches late in the regular season, she returned to join the team for a post-season run that went all the way to the NCAA Tournament Semifinals in Greensboro, N.C.
The Jumbos won their third NCAA New England title with a dramatic 5-2 victory over Wheaton College. They advanced to the “final four” with a penalty kicks victory against host Oneonta State in the Sectional round. Callaghan scored on the first shot of the shoot-out to get the Jumbos going. Making the second national semifinal appearance in team history, Tufts was stopped by the College of New Jersey. However, Callaghan and the rest had memories for a lifetime.
“It’s what you dream about,” Callaghan said about playing in the “final four.” “You play the game to have an opportunity like that. Going to the final four is one of those things that you always talk about, but when it actually happens, it’s hard to comprehend. It doesn’t sink in right away. We wouldn’t have made it that far if we didn’t deserve to be there. Saying that we were excited is an understatement, but weren’t content with just getting there.”
Callaghan tied for the NESCAC lead this season with eight assists in 16 games for an average of 0.5 per game. A tri-captain of the 2005 team, she tied a school record with three assists in a game against Middlebury College on September 17 last fall. She finished her career tied for 11th on the team’s all-time scoring list with 13 goals and 14 assists for 40 points in 58 games.
With Callaghan, a psychology major, at the top of the list, the Tufts squad matched its competitive success with outstanding academic achievement. Of the 12 non-first-year and transfer players on the roster, every single one of them had a grade point average of 3.1 or better. Six were 3.5 or better, and 10 – more than half the total roster – were 3.4 or better.
“I think that this mostly shows that if we're going to do something, we want to do it well,” Callaghan said. “I know that everyone on this team works really hard at their schoolwork. We expect a lot of ourselves, whether it’s on the field or our grades.”
At ceremonies in April, Callaghan was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Delta Chapter of Massachusetts, at Tufts. During her senior season, while coping with the knee injury and playing past Thanksgiving, Callaghan achieved a grade point average over 3.9 for the fall semester. She graduated in May with a 3.8 cumulative grade point average. Among senior student-athletes in 2006, she was in the top five females and top 10 overall for cumulative grade point average.