Alyssa Cabral thinks you should never discount the underdog.
After all, opponents don’t expect the 5-foot-2 Curtis High School senior to be a dominant force on the soccer field.
Cabral is a captain on a Vikings team that has taken the South Puget Sound League South Division by storm. With wins against defending champion Puyallup, Federal Way and Emerald Ridge, Curtis has a one-game lead in the division heading into the final few weeks of the season.
“I like being an underdog — and we have been the whole time,” Cabral said. “They’re not expecting you to be as talented as you are based on appearances.”
Despite having firsthand experience, Cabral maintains that height isn’t important when it’s game time. While headers can be a challenge, her pace and versatility make up for her short stature.
“I don’t think my size has a huge effect on my play, other than opponents underestimating what I’m capable of,” she said.
According to Curtis coach Frank
Hankel, that’s a lot.
“She is a very good player despite her size,” he said. “She plays a lot bigger than that, and she has played fantastically for us.
“Technically, she is a very solid player, and she is also a calming presence at center (midfielder). She is very even-keeled.”
A three-year starter for Curtis, Cabral has played forward, outside back on defense, outside midfielder and center midfielder. While she prefers to play the latter because it provides the most contact with the ball, she earned all-SPSL South first-team honors last season for her defense.
“That was kind of surprising for all of us,” she said with a laugh. “It was kind of like, ‘Throw me in and hope for the best.’ But I have played everywhere, so I am able to adapt for wherever the team needs me.
“As long as I get to play, I don’t really care. I appreciate the time I am given.”
Even more so these days. Cabral sustained a concussion in Curtis’ 3-2 victory at Puyallup on Oct. 5 and sat out the following game.
When Cabral returned Thursday against Todd Beamer, it was clear she was not at full strength. The Vikings also looked out of sorts, especially after she left in the second half. They lost, 2-0, suffering their first defeat of the season.
Nobody is panicking. Curtis returned 13 players from its 2012 state quarterfinal squad. The Vikings know how to win important matches.
Getting Cabral healthy for the stretch run is of greater importance.
“We saw the result of not having her at 100 percent when we lost to Beamer,” Hankel said. “But you don’t want to rush a player that is important to your team back too early.
“She’s such a big part of our team — and I think she’s going to have a big influence on how we do this season.”