Let's not beat around the bush: What Nicolai "Nico" Calabria pulled off Wednesday in Massachusetts has to be one of the greatest goals ever scored. That's not because of the arc of his shot or the power of his header. It's because Nico Calabria only has one leg, and he scored one of the most acrobatic goals of the season in an able-bodied, varsity soccer game.
Calabria is a high school senior who competes for the Concord-Carlisle (Mass.) High soccer team. He was the captain of the junior varsity squad as a junior. He is also a wrestler for the Patriots. He does all these things with just one leg, which is about as remarkable an achievement as one can come across.
On the soccer pitch, Calabria motors up and down the field on crutches. Incredibly, they don't seem to keep him out of the action much, either, because Calabria can really move on his two crutches, as he showed with his celebration after his recent goal during C-C's 9-0 victory against Newton (Mass.) South High.
How he managed to score that goal, however, is more remarkable still. Balancing on his crutches, Calabria positioned himself in the penalty box for an oncoming Concord-Carlisle corner. As the ball floated in, Calabria was in position to get his boot on the ball, if he could get it high enough to make contact.
What followed next was incredible, with Calabria swinging his leg as if he was attempting an overhead volley. He made contact with the inswinging corner with his leg over his head like a full scissor kick, and the ball sailed into the net with ease.
Even if you've already watched the goal above once, go back and check it out again. It's well worth it. It would easily qualify as one of the top goals of the week if Calabria had taken the shot with both of his lower limbs, let alone scoring it with one.
That Calabria has even made it to the Concord-Carlisle varsity soccer team is a major accomplishment. The Patriots are among the strongest teams in the Dual County League (DCL) each year, and the DCL hosts some of the best boys soccer in the Boston area. Suffice it to say, Concord-Carlisle doesn't need Calabria on the field just to make up the numbers. He's there on his own merit.
Though he is still in high school, Calabria is already a member of the U.S. national amputee soccer team. His bio on that team's website claims that he has been a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres show and has been profiled on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."
Based on what he accomplishes on the field, Calabria deserves all that attention and more. Yet his accomplishments aren't limited to soccer and wrestling, either; Calabria also summited Mt. Kilamanjaro, reaching the top of the mountain at age 13.
That expedition may have set the stage for Calabria's future triumphs, but it certainly didn't stop him. Now the high school senior can comfortably look back and realize that he's succeeding in things that some able-bodied athletes could only dream about.
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