Enoshima High vs Kisaragi Girls High
The week went by fast. After an almost easy victory against Yamako Academy on Wednesday, the team was set to play the final game of the Qualifiers on Friday, which would get then into the top 16. True to Mai's prediction, they were up against Kisaragi Girls High School.
Friday June 4th;
"This is it!" said Suzuka as they entered the parking lot of Keiso University "The final game before the main tournament."
"Let's not screw up everybody." said Yuki
"Yuki!" said Keiko
"No one needs to hear that. We're nervous enough as it is."
"What Keiko said." said Asuka
"Tsukasa-chan!" called a girl running up to them from the field entrance
"Haruka-onee-chan!" said Tsukasa as the girl hugged her "What are you doing here?"
"Waddya think? I'm here to cheer you on!" said Haruka as she released Tsukasa "Plus, I'm a student here, remember?"
"This is your older sister?" said Yuki
"And she goes to Keiso University?" said Momoko
"Yes." Tsukasa replied dully "And she too is a soccer player."
"And I can see the resemblance." said Mai
"Well well well, if it isn't the black sheep traitor." said a voice from the Kisaragi team who just arrived. One look at the team gave the impression that there were two Tsukasas, but Keiko and the team quickly realized that this girl was one of her triplet sisters
"Kaoru, Sae." said Tsukasa. Sae, the younger girl who also resembled Tsukasa, gave a friendly smile in return, but Kaoru just scowled at her fellow triplet
"Two more of your sisters?" Yukari asked
"Don't think we'll hold back just because you're our sister." said Kaoru "Let's go girls." The team followed her into the complex, but Sae lagged behind. She attempted to make conversation, but Kaoru called her.
"Heard Kaoru made Captain this year." said Tsukasa
"She did." Haruka confirmed
"What's her problem?" Keiko asked
"Yeah." said Saito
"She's still holding a grudge." said Haruka
"It didn't sit well with her when I decided to leave home to attend Enoshima." Tsukasa explained "She thinks I betrayed the family by not going to our traditional school. Coach, I want to be a starter today."
"Wish granted." said Mai
"What?" said Yukari "Just like that?"
"This is something the two of them need to work out." said Suzuka "And it'll have to be done on the field."
The team took the look on Suzuka's face as a sign that this wasn't up for debate.
On the field;
"And it's finally time for the final round of the Inter-High Qualifiers." said Yukinari
"Enoshima's made a slight change in today's starting lineup." said Kirie "Making her debut in this tournament is the third year Forward, number 9 Tsukasa Tachibana. How will this trio of Forwards, including the usual Akitsuki and Aizawa, match up against Kisaragi's?"
"A 2-5-3 to start with." said Suzuka "Haruhi's out this time while we have Tsukasa making a debut."
"I'm sorry about this, but this has to be done." said Tsukasa
"Anything about your sisters we should know about?" Keiko asked "Like, where are the other two? Your other triplet 'Rihoko', and Sae's twin, 'Ai', as I recall."
"Rihoko's part of the Tea Society, and Ai's a member of the Swim Team." Tsukasa explained "Haruka, Kaoru, Sae and I are the soccer players."
"Speaking of Sae," said Yukari "she seems to be acting timid. She playing as a Midfielder, but from here I can see that she won't stop shaking."
"I kinda forced her into playing soccer when we were still in Elementary, hoping it would boost her confidence. She's always been shy, never confident. And now, for the first time in her life, she playing in a tournament as a starter. How she got to be one I'll never know."
"Maybe Kaoru, who's playing as a Defender, pulled some strings." said Keiko
"Maybe." Tsukasa replied "Captain, let me handle Kaoru on my own."
"Fine." said Suzuka "But if I need you elsewhere, you'd better when I give the word. Now, let's kickoff, win this, and move on to the top 16."
"Right!" Keiko, Tsukasa and Yukari said together
The game began with the kickoff, and most of Kisaragi proved to be no better than most of Yokohama. This was partially because of the presence of four very experienced offensive players, and Sae Tachibana was far too easy to get by. But the defense was a bit tighter than Yokohama's had been.
"What's going on, sis?" Kaoru asked Tsukasa, who had been marking her since the ball came so close to the goal "Ten minutes in, and your team hasn't scored anything. Aren't you one of the Forwards?"
"Goals aren't scored by Forwards alone! That's what we have Midfielders for." said Tsukasa as Keiko finally managed to break through the defense
Faking a pass to Yukari, the Keeper took the bait and Keiko sent the ball clear into the goal.
"How?" Kaoru inquired as the score was recorded 0-1 for Enoshima
"Hardly anyone knows how to read an Aizawa." Tsukasa answered "Why do you have Sae as a starter? There's no way she can match up to us."
"You cheeky traitor! I'll never forgive you for deserting the family!"
"We all follow our own path in life."
"That's enough you two." said the Referee "Get to your positions for the next kickoff."
The game resumed, and Enoshima had it rough. Kisaragi, under Kaoru's leadership, had prevented any more attacks and managed to break though Enoshima's defense. When the first half ended, Kisaragi was leading at 3-1.
"This is turning grim." said Suzuka when they sat down for the halftime break "There defense is hardened and they're breaking through ours."
"We need to get back into our groove." said Mai
"What can we do coach?" Miho asked
"I know." said Saito "Amuro!"
"From the goal, watching the game from the way back, how do you think all this happened?" Saito asked
"We'll, they scored that first goal by breaking through our defense from the center. I also fell for a feint." said Amuro "The other two goals were different. Scared of more goals, we bunched up in the center, allowing them to swing around from the outside."
"From here at the bench, I noticed that too." said Miki
"Then here's my suggestion." said Suzuka "We take out Yuzuki and Miho, as usual, but this time we put both Miki and Asuka on defense."
"No." said Mai "We'll go with the formation we have now. Though I will sub Kirishima and Kusakabe as usual. Nonomiya, Hattori, start warming up."
"Since when does she use our last names?" Keiko asked
"She only does that when she's in a really serious mood." said Nagisa
After halftime, the game resumed with Kisaragi's kickoff. The entry of Miki and Yuki made a real difference. Enoshima stole the ball back easily, and the offense got its momentum back. Keiko, Suzuka and Tsukasa passed the ball around in a well coordinated triangle formation, which confused Kisaragi's players, allowing them to get a goal up. This trick worked twice before Kisaragi managed to stop it, and with twenty minutes left, the score was tied at 3-3.
"Your team's good, I'll give you that." Kaoru said to Tsukasa and Keiko just as the ball went out-of-bounds. Kisaragi's throw-in "But you won't win this."
"Kaoru, listen." said Tsukasa "I didn't desert the family. I chose a different High School from the rest of you, because I couldn't play my own soccer if I went with Kisaragi. It wasn't any fun."
"Yeah." said Keiko "Though we aim to win, Enoshima places a lot more emphasis on having fun."
"'Fun'? That's why you left?" Kaoru said flabbergasted "To have 'fun'?"
"Yes." said Tsukasa "When you're having fun playing, you forget all about being tired. Just look at Sae. Does she seem to be having any fun?" They looked over at Sae. She seemed close to collapse "Think about what I've said."
One of Kisaragi's players made the throw-in. Keiko and Sae competed for the ball as it flew toward them. Keiko was about to head it to her feet, but before she could, she and Sae hit the back of their heads against one another hard, and fell to the ground while Kisaragi took possession of the ball.
"Are you all right? I'm so sorry." Sae said to Keiko. For a second, Keiko didn't seem to be moving, then Keiko got up "Thank goodness. I'm so sorry. I've never been good at soccer. Huh?" Sae saw the look on Keiko's face and in her eyes, and felt as if this wasn't the same person she had been playing against since the first half.
Meanwhile, Kisaragi's offense had made it to Enoshima's defense line. "You won't get past us!" said Miki just before Keiko suddenly appeared right in front of her, stopping Kisargi's number 9 dead in her tracks. "Keiko? When did you..." Miki tried to ask, but Keiko didn't appear to be listening.
Just like at Keiko's match against Greece, she was moving like a whole different person. She stole the ball easily and single-handedly brought the ball halfway down Kisaragi's side of the field before passing to Suzuka. Suzuka, unfamiliar with how Keiko was playing, had a difficult time receiving the pass, but held onto it.
"It's just like how she played against Greece." Suzuka thought when she received the pass "What is this feeling? The feeling that something will happen? Should I trust it?" Suzuka then noticed Keiko, just outside the penalty area, looking back at her. One look at Keiko's eyes told Suzuka that this wasn't the Keiko she knew. Nevertheless, those eyes clearly told her to pass the ball "If I'm not sure, I might as well trust it!" Suzuka thought as she passed to Keiko.
Keiko then, easily, made her way past Kaoru and her other Defenders and put the ball past the Keeper. The score was now 3-4.
"Keiko?" Suzuka asked putting a hand on Keiko's shoulder
"Eh?" Keiko responded coming put of some sort of daze "Suzuka? What happened?"
"That's my line!"
"Yeah, what was with you and those moves and dribbling?" Yukari asked "You were like a whole 'nother person."
"What are you talking about?" Keiko asked
"Do you really not remember?" Tsukasa also asked
"I remember hitting my head on Sae's." Keiko told them rubbing the back of her head "Head of steel that girl. After that, I was only half awake."
"Well, whatever." said Yukari putting an arm around Keiko"You got us the lead. Come on, ten minutes left. Let's get in position for the next kickoff."
"Those moves. And those eyes." Suzuka thought as they walked back to center-field "Could that have been... her uncle? No! I'm not gonna play Silva's game."
Confused, but inspired by Keiko's goal, Enoshima's performance improved dramatically. In the remaining ten minutes they managed to pull off some astounding plays and score three more goals. Everyone could say that this was the best game that the Enoshima Girls Soccer Team had played so far in this tournament.
PEEP PEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEP
"The game is over. The final score is 3-7." said Yukinari "What a game."
"And with this victory, Enoshima will move on the the top 16 of the women's tournament." said Kirie
"Well done everyone!" said Mai as they came back to the bench
"We're in the main tournament!" said Sachiko
"And we get a full week of rest before that." said Tsukasa as she collapsed on the bench. She was clearly exhausted
"Tsukasa." Kaoru called
"What?" Tsukasa called back
"I... I... I had fun! I'm sorry for making a big deal over nothing." Kaoru told her with a bow
"Don't worry about it."
"That game was fun to watch too." said Haruka above them "Enoshima really has it's own style. Let's all play together sometime."
"I'm game." said Sae, appearing at Kaoru's side "I've always admired you, Aizawa-san!"
"Uh... thanks." Keiko replied awkwardly
"I've always admired you. And playing against you today... I want to improve!"
"You'll be training even harder with us from now on to do just that." said Kaoru with a hand on Sae's shoulder "See ya round, sis." Kaoru called as she walked away with Sae
"That's one way to mend some bad blood." said Nagisa, causing everyone to laugh
The team would be getting a week of rest before Inter-High resumed the week after.