The irony isn’t lost on Sabrina Cabrera.
Quiet and unassuming off of the soccer pitch, the Dos Palos sophomore is content to go about her business in the shadows while others occupy the spotlight.
The contradiction comes when Cabrera is on the field, where the high level of intensity and skill with which she plays demand attention. It’s not just hyperbole. In a town where football is king, the Broncos’ girls soccer team garnered a lot of attention with a history-making campaign. And most of the eyes were on Cabrera.
“Crowds come out every game just to watch her play,” Dos Palos coach Grace Hinojosa said. “She’s an incredibly skilled and creative player and the kids want to see what she’s going to do. Even before I was the coach, I came out last year just as a teacher to see her play as a freshman. Even then, you could see she’s just a level above the rest of the kids.”
Cabrera didn’t disappoint those who made the effort to come out, pouring in an unofficial state-leading 61 goals according to MaxPreps in just 22 contests. The striker helped Dos Palos win its first girls soccer conference crown in school history and then scored four goals in a a 5-4 playoff victory over Lindsay, also the first in school history. The incredible season earned Cabrera the Sun-Star Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“It was a little hard having so much attention on me at first, but I got used to it,” Cabrera said. “I was just happy that the team was getting noticed by the school and the town. We haven’t had very many good girls soccer teams. Last year we made the playoffs for the first time ever and then this year we won league and made it to the second round of the playoffs for the first time.
“I was surprised by how many goals I scored, but at the same time I feel like I could have done more. There were games that just weren’t my day and I struggled. Whenever I had a bad game like that, I just tried to focus and score twice as much the next game.”
Those that have watched Cabrera play have marveled at how the ball appears attached to her foot as she pulls off some feat of dribbling wizardry. It’s not happenstance. Cabrera can seldom be found without a ball at her feet, either perfecting a move already in her repertoire or inventing something new.
That footwork and her ability to take defenders one-on-one off of the dribble were a big part of her incredible campaign as she recorded at least a hat trick in 13 different contests.
“It’s just something I’ve always done,” Cabrera said. “I get home from practice or a game and usually the first thing I do is work on my footwork. As long as I’m not hurt, I do it for a little while everyday. Soccer is what I love. It’s the only sport I’ve ever loved and I want to get as good at it as I possibly can.
“People ask me what I want to do in the future and the only answer for as long as I can remember is to play soccer in college. That’s the only plan. I have no idea what else I would do.”
Hinojosa said she experimented with Cabrera in a few different spots as she got to know her new squad, but she was always destined to play up top.
“She’s such a good athlete and a smart player that she could excel anywhere,” Hinojosa said. “She’d be a great midfielder or defender. Sometimes when we got a lead we’d put her back on defense, but she’s definitely a special forward.
“I think we were just in awe of what she did this season.”
Cabrera has no intention of slowing down. She formed a formidable partnership with fellow sophomore Carlyn Cota (18 goals). As the pair continue to develop together, the goals could come even more frequently.
“Carlyn moved here in the eighth grade, so we’ve really only played together the last two years,” Cabrera said. “We bonded pretty quickly. Whenever we train, we pretty much do it together. She definitely makes things easier, because defenses can’t just focus on me.
“I want to prove to people that I can be better. The goals going into next year are to score more goals and go further in the playoffs.”
All-Area Girls Soccer Honors
Amaya Valenzuela GK, So., Merced
Viviana Prado D, So. Golden Valley
Kayley Pettigrew D, Sr., Hilmar
Marisol Camargo, D, Sr., Atwater
Elizabeth Mendoza D, Sr., Merced
Andrea Vazquez D, Sr., Golden Valley
Baylee Lawry D, Sr., Merced
Emily Vieira MF, Fr. Hilmar
Jaylin Meza MF, Jr., Golden Valley
Jovanna Salazar MF, Sr., Merced
Joceylin Vega MF, Sr., Livingston
Amenah Munoz MF, Jr., Golden Valley
Hannah Sanders FWD, Sr., Hilmar
Miranda Alvear FWD, Sr., Livingston
Megan Pust FWD, Sr., Golden Valley
Kylie Garcia FWD, Fr., Livingston
Carris Burgess FWD, Jr., Merced
Today: Girls soccer
Tuesday: Boys soccer
Wednesday: Girls basketball
Thursday: Boys basketball