On the drive over to Madison High School on Saturday morning, Robinson goalkeeper Samir Badr received a text message from Alex Makumbi, the talented striker whose offensive talent had propelled the Rams’ into the Northern Region boys’ soccer final against Westfield.
Makumbi let Badr know that he was feeling it and predicted a game-changing goal. During a portion of the game that occurred Friday night and was later postponed because of rain, Makumbi said that he had numerous unfinished opportunities, at least one of which he planned on finishing later that day.
Badr jokingly shot back that he was fired up, too. If an important goal was to be scored, he was going to be the one to take care of business.
Turns out, both were right.
During the Rams’ 3-0 win over Westfield under sunny skies and with a slight breeze, Makumbi scored in the game’s 50th minute and Badr upstaged his friend roughly seven minutes later with a 68-yard free kick that snuck past Westfield goalkeeper Kody Palmer, who fell down on the play while charging toward the ball.
“The tide-changing of the game was that second goal, which was unexpected,” said Robinson coach Jac Cicala, whose team improved to 15-2-1 this season with the win and will face Central Region runner-up Mills Godwin Tuesday in the Virginia AAA state quarterfinals at Westfield High School. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, will travel to face Central champion Cosby.
“I was trying to make the goalkeeper make a decision,” Badr said. “I whipped in a pretty good ball, and I made him make a decision and it ended up in the back of the net.”
<b>SEVENTEEN HOURS</b> prior to Saturday’s continuation, the two teams started out on what hardly felt like a region title game; a wet, turf field at Madison combined with impending doom from above made the contest feel like more like the preseason than postseason.
Neither team scored Friday night, though Westfield threatened with several chances from senior forwards Irvin Herrera and Sean Murnane, who missed wide left after a fantastic individual effort almost 20 minutes into the game.
But with 16:37 showing on the scoreboard, play was stopped for severe thunderstorms and did not resume until 26 minutes — real time, not clock time — later. After playing 39 more seconds of soccer, play was halted again. This time for good.
When the two teams resumed on Saturday, Cicala had a plan in place should the Rams trail at halftime. It wasn’t necessary. With more energy than the night before, Robinson pushed the envelope early and broke through with Makumbi’s tally, which came from just outside the top of the 18-yard box.
“The ball was in the air, and I trapped it,” said Makumbi, who’s more commonly known by his nickname, ‘Koko.’ “I guess the defenders got confused, so I just kept on going straight.”
Badr’s first career goal at Robinson — he just joined the team this year — followed in the game’s 57th minute, and senior defender Jimmy Brewer capped the scoring in the game’s 65th minute off of a penalty kick.
“In big games, me and Koko are the types that really like to make a difference,” Badr said. “We actually both ended up getting one today, which is very ironic. It was a good feeling.”