Lee's Kaba nears school goal-scoring record

Robert E. Lee's Lumi Kaba brings the ball up the field against Rockwall Heath Tuesday night. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

It is a chant sung from the terraces of English Premier League soccer stadiums — reserved for only the most prolific strikers.

"He scores when he wants."

Arsenal fans serenaded their Dutch striker Robin van Persie with this in 2011-12 because of his ability to hit the back of the net seemingly at will. His predatory instincts helped Van Persie, now at Manchester United, lead the league with 30 goals.

Robert E. Lee senior Lumi Kaba is showing similar scoring attributes this year for the Red Raiders. In 16 games, Kaba has scored 22 goals and is now within striking distance of a record that hasn't been challenged for nearly two decades.

In 1994, Shawn Tatham led the Red Raiders to the state championship, scoring 28 goals, with 25 of those coming in the regular season.

"When I get on the field I have the mindset that I am at least going to get a goal before I get off the field," said Kaba, who scored just three goals as a junior, all of them in the playoffs. "I would've been happy with 10 goals to be honest. But it's been such a great year and when the coach told me what the school record was and I had a chance to break it, it's actually pushed me to play harder and practice harder also."

The Red Raiders (10-5-1; 5-2-0, 15 points in District 12-5A) play host to Longview at 7 p.m. Friday at Lee Soccer Field. Kaba scored twice against the Lobos in their first meeting.

Lee has featured Division I standouts Ryan Mirsky (SMU), Daniel Antunez (Hartford) and many more goal scorers in the 19 years since Tatham's graduation, but Kaba has a chance to put his name for all time into the REL record book.

"We've had some great players come through here who got close to it, got into the 20s," said Lee coach Marty Germany, who is in his second year as head coach after being an assistant since 1998.

"He's the first one I can remember to have enough games left to make a real run at it. I talked to Shawn and he's like, if it happens, he's sad to see it go, but knows records are made to be broken."

And to think that Kaba toiled with not even playing soccer for his senior season.

He was coming off an award-laden high school football campaign, which saw the senior kicker/punter named to the Class 5A all-state second team and be chosen first team All-East Texas. He then signed a scholarship for football to Tyler Junior College.

"I was actually talking to some friends and they are really proud of me for (playing this season)," Kaba said. "I have been able to really make an impact on this team and it's been a lot of fun."

Kaba scored six goals as a sophomore on varsity before breaking out last year with goals in REL's playoff victories against A&M Consolidated and Longview as the Red Raiders reached the regional semifinals.

It took one game for Kaba to match his goal-scoring tally from his junior season with the senior netting a hat trick in Lee's season-opening win over Palestine.

"I felt like when he scored a bunch of goals in pre-district play, I thought it was good but wanted to see if he could do it in district," Germany said. "And now he's averaged at least a goal per game in district as well. He's been consistent. … It's not four or five goals in one game and then take three games off, he scores a goal per game or two goals per game."

Lee has been the beneficiary of Kaba's goal scoring, winning its first four district games. One Kaba goal was not enough in a 2-1 loss to North Mesquite and this was followed by a 3-0 setback to Rockwall. It was only the second time Kaba and Lee had been shut out this season.

He looked to be snakebitten Tuesday as well, having one goal called back on for offside, another shot saved and another hit the post.

But then, just like the chant says, Kaba scored to tie the game in the final minutes and added another in overtime. Kaba would've completed the hat trick, if not for some stellar goalkeeping and hitting the post again in an eventual 3-2 win.

"If you look at the history of Robert E. Lee soccer and see who was most likely to break this record, it was players that have better technical ability, but he's pretty good at that and really good at finishing," Germany said.

"He finds himself getting into some good thoughts and he is big enough to fight a defender off and if they put a little speedy guy on him, he's fast enough to run by him."

The Red Raiders are currently in second place in the league standings, so as much as Germany likes Kaba going for this record, he wants his forward to keep his eye on the bigger prize — getting back to the playoffs.

Kaba agrees.

"Coming into my senior year I thought I was going to do average, but actually I've been blessed a lot," Kaba said. "It's been fun scoring all of these goals and helping to carry my team to victory. I hope it continues and continues on through the playoffs."

By the Numbers: Shawn Tatham holds regular-season scoring record with 25 goals. Lumi Kaba currently sits at 22 goals with five games left to play. Tatham also holds the single-season goal scoring record with 28 goals.

 

District 12-5A Girls

Soccer Standings

WLSWSLGDPts

Mesquite Horn4110+914

Rockwall5011+918

Longview4300+112

North Mesquite3202+211

Mesquite3400-39

Rockwall-Heath2500-96

Robert E. Lee0610-122

Win – 3 pts; SW – penalty shootout win 2 pts; SL – penalty shootout loss 1 pt; Tiebreakers determined by goal differential (GD). Maximum goal differential for single game is +5.

———

Tuesday's Scores

Rockwall 3, North Mesquite 1

Rockwall-Heath 1, Robert E. Lee 0

Longview 2, Mesquite 0

Friday's Games

Robert E. Lee at Longview

Rockwall-Heath at Mesquite Horn

Mesquite at North Mesquite

———

District 12-5A Boys

Soccer Standings

WLSWSLGDPts

Rockwall7100+1721

Robert E. Lee5200+715

North Mesquite4210+513

Longview3202+811

Mesquite Horn2310+58

Rockwall-Heath0610-180

Mesquite0601-240

Win – 3 pts; SW – penalty shootout win 2 pts; SL – penalty shootout loss 1 pt; Tiebreakers determined by goal differential (GD). Maximum goal differential for single game is +5.

———

Tuesday's Scores

Rockwall 2, North Mesquite 1

Robert E. Lee 3, Rockwall-Heath 1 (OT)

Longview 5, Mesquite 0

Friday's Games

Mesquite Horn at Rockwall-Heath

Mesquite at North Mesquite

Longview at Robert E. Lee

 

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