By Laura Amato
Maia Cabrera was five years old, sitting on the sidelines of her older brother’s soccer game when she decided, quite suddenly, that she wanted to be a soccer player.
After all, her brother was playing and as far as Cabrera was concerned, there was no reason she shouldn’t get a chance either. So she yelled and shouted and demanded an opportunity and finally her parents relented – giving her a few moments on the field.
It was those few moments that changed her life.
Cabrera fell in love with the game as soon as the ball landed at her feet, a relationship that has come to shape her as much as anything and, on Feb. 6, it all came full circle as the Forest Hills High School standout signed her National Letter of Intent to play college soccer at St. John’s University.
“I worked so hard for this and it’s basically my dream to go to a D-I school and play soccer, play the sport that I love,” Cabrera said. “I put everything into this sport and it’s just amazing that I get to do it in college.”
Cabrera has been nothing short of dominant since that first moment on the field and cemented herself as one of the most successful athletes in Forest Hills history this fall.
She scored five goals in eight league games, four in the Rangers’ annual tournament, six in exhibition games and four more goals in the PSAL Senior All-Star Game – a 29-goal total that was amongst the best in program history.
“Maia is the best female soccer player I have seen in my 26 year career,” Forest Hills coach Bob Sprance said. “She never yelled at any player, was not condescending and was always very positive. She’s a better person than she is an athlete.”
Cabrera verbally committed to St. John’s after first talking to women’s soccer coach Ian Stone. The long-time Red Storm head coach sent Cabrera a detailed e-mail about her game and what she could bring to the squad on Utopia Parkway and she immediately knew this was the program for her.
“He sent me this really long, like essay, via e-mail,” Cabrera said. “He quotes this, he calls me the Queen of Queens because I’m one of the few girls from Queens who went to St. John’s. All these little things that many coaches don’t really realize about a player, Ian realized about me and it really made me happy.”
Cabrera has always been drawn to soccer – even playing internationally for the Israeli U19 National team – but she’s a competitor at heart and she can’t ever say no to a challenge. That’s why she’s playing basketball now and why she’ll play softball in the spring – determined to be the best in whatever sport she plays, a trait she’s had for as long as she can remember.
“[My older brother] played every sport since he was 5 and we were both just athletic kids,” Cabrera said. “He really opened my eyes to all these things because he played all these sports.”
Cabrera knows she’ll never stop playing soccer, too caught up in the sport and the rush she gets from putting the ball in the back of the net, but she refuses to get too far ahead of herself.
Playing professionally is still the dream, but right now she’s happy to be the Queen of Queens, anxious to lift St. John’s back to the national spotlight and do her hometown proud.
She’s seizing her opportunity and running with it – again.
“I’m still going to be in Queens and my family is still three exits away from me and I can’t think of a better school to be honest,” Cabrera said. “It’s going to be great looking up in the stands and seeing them cheering for me.”