Soccer Hires Maite Zabala as Assistant Coach
Zabala was most recently at San Francisco
Feb. 26, 2015

BOISE, Idaho - Boise State women's soccer head coach Jim Thomas announced Thursday, the addition of Maite Zabala (MY-tay / ZUH-ball-uh) to his staff as an assistant coach. Zabala comes to the Broncos with 14 years of coaching experience at the Division I level, including most recently as the associate head coach at San Francisco. She is a Boise native and graduate of Bishop Kelly High School.

Zabala earned the United States Soccer Federation National A Coaching License in 2013, joining Thomas and fellow Bronco assistant coach Ed Moore with the lofty credentials. Zabala will work with primarily with the goalkeepers.

"The thing we wanted to add was a person who could come in and be on par from an experience and expertise standpoint," Thomas said. "We wanted to add that kind of component to the coaching staff, where we could disperse a lot more of the roles. I like the fact now that we have three `A' licensed coaches. Three coaches with the highest amount of expertise available to them who we can deploy per their strengths at any time we want."

At USF, Zabala was a member of the coaching staff for eight seasons, including the last four as the associate head coach. With the Dons, she emphasized in working with defenders and goalkeepers. The team increased its number of shutouts each of the last five seasons.

Prior to arriving at USF in 2007, Zabala was an assistant coach at her alma mater, California-Berkeley for three seasons.

"I spent a good amount of time in the Bay Area after college, but I've always wanted to make it back to the Northwest because this is where my heart is," said Zabala. "When Jim first came here it was something I contemplated, but this time around when he was hiring it was something I wanted to do. It's a change of pace, getting off the big-city treadmill and getting to concentrate more on soccer. I'm spending less time in the car now, so it's nice not worrying about that as part of my day."

Zabala was a standout goalkeeper at California from 1997-2000, earning team Most Valuable Player honors as a junior and senior. A three-time All-Pacific 10 Conference selection, she still holds the school record for career shutouts at 26.5 and was inducted into the Cal Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.

Following her collegiate career, Zabala was a first-round pick in the Women's United Soccer Association by the Atlanta Beat. She played professionally for four seasons, spending three in the WUSA before rounding out her career with Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Liga. During her offseasons, Zabala was a volunteer assistant coach at her alma mater.

"Her experience from a playing and coaching standpoint at the Pac-12 level is where we're trying to get to," Thomas said. "We want this program to be able to compete on that level and go deep in the NCAA Tournament. That's our goal."

Setting up the Staff
Thomas now has two highly-qualified assistant coaches on staff who have both spent most of their careers working with goalkeepers. Moving forward the Bronco coaches may take on less position-specific responsibilities, while putting their collective soccer acumen and coaching chops to work all over the pitch.

Under Moore's tutelage the Broncos posted two of the top four single-season goals-against marks, including the school record of 0.78 in 2013. Over the past two seasons Boise State keepers have recorded 15 shutouts, with nine in 2013 to match the program record.

"Ed has been unbelievable with the goalkeepers," said Thomas. "You see the performances over the first two seasons we've worked together. The goals-against average is at the top of the conference, so we're really happy with Ed. But when you have an opportunity to pick up a coach as good as Maite, you have to take it. I feel like we just got better today. I feel like we got a new player, a new set of players, it's like a recruiting class unto itself. It will enable Ed to move over to the field-player side, where he's had a lot more experience with me and what I'm trying to achieve in that area."

Thomas went on to explain Moore and Zabala will have an impact on all areas of the team. He said it would be foolish not to.

"Bringing in that kind of experience we can't just limit it to four players within the squad," said Thomas. "It will be a matter of seeing where the strengths best match up in a given situation. Ed has a great way about him and in certain circumstances he's going to have to become the head coach. Likewise with Maite; she'll be able to deliver messages that won't be as well received if they come from me. That could mean anything from pregame to halftime to training throughout the week for a specific game or situation."

Zabala, who will ultimately be tasked with the training and development of the goalkeepers as a primary focus, is looking forward to the opportunity to work alongside another experienced coach with experience teaching net minders. The chance to work with other positions is also a plus in her mind.

"Ed's done a good job here with the goalkeepers," said Zabala. "So it will be good for me to see how someone else does it and still have the opportunity to put my imprint on the position. I'm excited to also work with the field players."

Home Again
Zabala grew up in Boise, where she eventually starred at Bishop Kelly High School and played club ball for Les Bois United. Her coach on the club circuit was Steve Lucas, Thomas' predecessor as the head coach at Boise State. Zabala's background gives her a unique perspective on the Bronco soccer program and an appreciation and respect for where it has been and the levels it is striving to reach.

"I've known the program since its inception so I've been able to see it grow over the years," said Zabala. "I knew Steve for a long time when he was at the helm here and was my club coach in high school. Now it's been awesome seeing Jim here. He comes from a great pedigree. It was his time to take over a program and I'm happy to work with someone who has that type of background."

Elevating a program to the next level is nothing new for Zabala. As a senior at Bishop Kelly, she led the smaller A-2 school to the 1996 state championship in the larger A-1 classification. Zabala was named tournament MVP as well as the state player of the year after posting 11 shutouts that season to cap an illustrious career.

Zabala will also have a thing or two to teach the Bronco field players. As a junior, she nearly single-handedly earned the Knights the third-place trophy. In the consolation game, Zabala scored a penalty kick to put Bishop Kelly on top then proceeded to post a shutout in the net on her way to being named the lone keeper on the all-tournament team.

The double duty came after a sophomore season in which she started every game at goalkeeper but at times was replaced at halftime and played forward the rest of the match. One such performance in late September 1994 led to her being named the Idaho Statesman's female athlete of the week when she held Nampa without a tally in the first half and scored one of her own in the second half. Her male counterpart earning the award that week? A quarterback at Capital High School named Bryan Harsin.

The accolades rolled in early and often for Zabala. She started in goal for Bishop Kelly from the outset of her freshman season. Not only was she the youngest starting keeper in the Treasure Valley, local coaches said at the time that she was `head and shoulders above' the rest of the goalies in the area. At the age of 14 she was named the No. 1 goalkeeper in Region IV, which comprises 10 states.

Years later the soccer landscape in Boise has changed, but Zabala's name still carries weight and she is back to help the Broncos accomplish their goals.

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