Cabello, Hamm Mix Styles to Lead Bears
Sept. 2, 2003
by Dean Caparaz
They play sharply contrasting styles - Cabello, the polished frontrunner looking to create who idolized Pele growing up, and Hamm, the defender-turned-forward with amazing speed who didn't have any soccer idols as a kid.
There are similarities. Both were born in Berkeley, though Cabello now hails from Piedmont and Hamm comes from Moraga. Both are sophomores on the Cal women's soccer team. And both played big roles in keeping the Golden Bears afloat and headed to the playoffs last season when star forward Laura Schott was out with an injury.
In the six games when Schott was out, due to injury and a red card in the first game of the 2002 season, Hamm scored six goals and Cabello produced two goals and two assists. By the end of the year, Hamm tied Schott for the Golden Bears' scoring lead with 18 points from nine goals and earned Cal Freshman of the Year honors. Cabello was right behind Hamm with 17 points from five goals and seven assists.
'They did much better than we expected,' Cal coach Kevin Boyd said. 'We knew they'd contend for playing time and were very good players. But Tracy took it another step further and surprised us in becoming a starter on the frontline. We looked at her becoming a defender or wide mid. But she's dangerous up top.
'It turned out to be very good preparation. The two of them playing together most of the season last fall helped us prepare for this fall. At the time, they were a big part of what was keeping us in the top 10.'
Cabello, 5-3, is a playmaker as a forward, a technically skilled and crafty player who is one of the team's best dribblers. Her role up top is to receive passes out of midfield, hold the ball and look to distribute to her teammates making attacking runs. She led the Bears in assists last year.
Hamm, 5-5, is a hard-nosed player who likes to run past defenders and is 'not afraid to smack a shot with half a window's chance,' according to Boyd. Hamm had never played forward before, but due to a lack of depth at forward last year, she joined Cabello on the frontline.
'Put those two players together, and a defense is going to have to defend the two of them very, very differently, which is hard to do,' Boyd said.
The seventh-year coach is looking for more from his sophomore duo this year. In the offseason, he encouraged the players to improve the areas of their game that the other excels in. For Cabello, that meant becoming more physical, learning to take more half chances and working on getting in behind defenses with her speed. Boyd wants Hamm to improve on holding the ball better, being creative and passing.
Cabello worked on her game by playing most of her offseason. After completing Cal's spring season, she played with a variety of teams, including the Region IV team, the Marin Rockers club, the East Bay Power and even the San Jose CyberRays of the WUSA. CyberRays coach Ian Sawyers brought Cabello in to scrimmage with his club over a three-week period.
'It was great,' Cabello said. 'I was able to train with the Brazilians [in San Jose, Katia, Sissi and Pretinha], three people who play my position. I practiced my Portuguese with them, saw how they play and learned from them.'
Cabello, who is of Chilean descent and speaks fluent Spanish, is studying Portuguese at Cal.
She played at the U.S. Soccer Festival in Houston with the Region IV team of the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) and was impressive enough to earn a spot on the U.S. National Select team.
Meanwhile, Hamm also played with the Power, a member of the amateur WPSL, to further develop her skills as a forward.
'I never played forward before (last season) in my life,' Hamm said. 'It was a big surprise. It took a lot of practice. I'm still learning. Every day I'm improving.'
'They're definitely both better than they were last year,' Boyd said. 'What's helpful is that it's starting to look like we have players who can give them some needed rest, and maybe they play 50-60 minutes a game. Where they're in, that gives them more energy, so they can go full bore.'
Each has already scored a goal. Hamm scored the team's first of the year in the season-opening 2-1 win Aug. 29 over Wisconsin to open the Cal Invitational. Cabello notched the lone goal in a 1-1 tie with Montana two days later as the Bears clinched their own tournament.
The different styles of Cabello and Hamm are still paying off for Cal.
'Even though we're contrasting players,' Cabello said, 'it's a perfect balance. We play off each other. She trusts me to get the ball where it needs to go.'