North Stafford Coach Iric Bressler didn’t think much of it last September when a freshman from Gambia told him he wanted to score the goal that would give the Wolverines their first state championship.
But as he stood in the middle of the field at Westfield Saturday, soaked from a postgame Gatorade bath after North Stafford defeated Deep Run, 1-0, to capture the Virginia AAA boys’ soccer championship, Bressler could only marvel at how prescient 15-year-old Pa Lamin Fofana had been.
The forward tallied the lone goal of the afternoon, drawing a foul inside the penalty box and scoring on the ensuing penalty kick less than two minutes into the second half.
Afterward, he cried as the rest of his teammates celebrated.
Fofana arrived in the United States from West Africa last August, moving in with his uncle. He left behind most of his family in search of better education and a more advanced athletics.
Once the spring season began, Fofana took the Northern Virginia soccer community by storm, scoring 31 goals with a dizzying array of jukes and speed, skills he again showed off Saturday against a Deep Run squad that beat the Wolverines, 3-1, last year.
As he walked off the field Saturday, Fofana couldn’t help but reflect on the journey he’s taken these last 10 months.
“I was thinking about my mom. That’s why I was crying,” Fofana said. “Africa is so hard. Life, survival, it’s hard. But I’m just so full of joy right now. I love it here.”
The victory didn’t come easy. After defeating two-time defending state champion Cox in the state semifinals Friday night, North Stafford came out sluggish in the championship game.
But during a 45-minute lightning delay, Bressler admonished his team, giving what he later called “a thorough Bobby Knight butt chewing.” It was Fofana who responded first, scoring his goal five minutes after the teams returned to the field. From there, though, Deep Run went on the attack.
Once the final whistle blew and the mosh pit of North Stafford players noticed Fofana laying down in tears, they gathered around the freshman and picked him up off the ground. From there, the celebration began anew.
“He’s a wonderful player and he adds a dynamic that you just can’t coach,” Bressler said of Fofana. “You really couldn’t write this script better.”
|N. STAFFORD||DEEP RUN|