SPRINGDALE – Running is not a new thing for Lubai Bangura, but it is unfamiliar territory. The multi-sport student-athlete has primarily focused on stopping shots and protecting the crease during her time as a goalie for Charles H. Flowers High School girls’ lacrosse and soccer teams. However, with the senior captain preparing to graduate and […]
SPRINGDALE – Running is not a new thing for Lubai Bangura, but it is unfamiliar territory. The multi-sport student-athlete has primarily focused on stopping shots and protecting the crease during her time as a goalie for Charles H. Flowers High School girls’ lacrosse and soccer teams.
However, with the senior captain preparing to graduate and her squad’s desire to train her possible replacements, Bangura was asked to step in as a midfielder.
Using her basketball knowledge on breakaways as a reference point, the five-foot-eight student-athlete bulldozed her way down the field after every winning face-off she was in, cutting through the middle of the Bladensburg defense, before scoring. She would receive quick smiles and hugs after each thundering goal.
“Because I am the captain, I have to make sure I boost everybody’s confidence,” Bangura said. “When I am confident, the whole team is confident, and that’s why I make sure I get the ball (during face-offs), run it down and head forward.”
Lubai’s amazing speed and tenacity set the tone for Flowers, who were looking to bounce back after back-to-back losses. The senior’s four-goal performance, plus the unstoppable offense provided by her teammates, helped the Lady Jaguars storm past Bladensburg High School, 9-3, on April 13.
Within the first two minutes of the game, Bangura sent a message to her team by picking up a loose ball as she ran more than 30 yards untouched for the game’s opening goal. Seeing her captain being unleashed on offense was a perfect message to her young team on how to adjust to new positions Co-Head Coach Zena Whitworth said.
“(Bangura) is the leader of the team and she had to be out front (on offense),” Whitworth said. “When we are playing the tough teams, we put her in goal because she is teaching; she does more than score goals. She is out there instructing the team as well.”
The Flowers offense continued to hold possession of the ball, took shots at will and added four more goals to their first-half total. Bangura completed her hat trick with 39 seconds before halftime after receiving a pass from junior Janet Olowe went for a 20-yard sprint toward the net before darting her shot into the net for a score.
Bladensburg (0-4) did not bow down to their Springdale opponents so quickly thanks to the performance of goalkeeper Edrina Namirembe. The freshman corraled 23 saves including being vital in stopping Flowers from capitalizing on free position shots, only scoring three times out of the 10 given opportunities. Two first-half goals by senior Skyla McClellan gave the Lady Mustangs a fighting chance only down by three before the start of the second half.
However, the physicality and offensive prowess displayed by Flowers was too much for Bladensburg. Olowe scored a free position goal with three minutes remaining into the second half while Bangura throttled in her fourth goal of the game (unassisted) after collecting a turnover at midfield. Bladensburg attacker Ma. Theresa Ebarita attempted to bring the Mustangs back by scoring a goal with 14 minutes remaining, but Flowers fired home three more unanswered goals before the final whistle.
“In the first half, we were a little rocky,” Olowe said. “But we came back in the second half and were doing a lot more passing, and our teamwork was better overall.”
The win puts Flowers’ record back on even terms (3-3) after two consecutive losses against Bowie High School and Dr. Henry A. Wise ,Jr. High School during the week.
With only three seniors on the team, any victory brings confidence to Flowers’ young team. As the regular season winds down, practice time will be essential in helping the players prepare for postseason play, Whitworth said.
“Before each game, we set goals so as long as we are accomplishing them, we will get there,” Whitworth said. “We have a very new team with five returning players while the rest are new to the sport so working with basic cradling, running, footwork, stick-work and the basics are important.”