Tsujido 1st Years vs. Enoshima 1st Years
Tuesday April 12th
It was a week into the new term, and Enoshima was having its first practice match of the year, against Tsujido High at their field.
"This is it. Anyone nervous?" Yukari asked the first years. all of them, save for Noriko and Rikka, nodded "Then here's the starting lineup for the game. Keiko?"
"Hai." Keiko said as she raised a tablet to her eyes "Starting Keeper: Chisa Yuki. Starting Defenders: Yuko Minami and Aki Akayama. Starting D-Midfielders: Nono Nonohara, Waka Umehara and Mikiri Getto. Starting A-Midfielders: Fujiko Getto and Koko Yusa. Forwards: Rikka Togashi, Hibiki Getto and Noriko Kishitani."
"Huh! This lineup is all first years!" said Waka
"Part of the arrangement for today's match." said Haruhi "Neither team will use upperclassmen. First years only."
"No wonder you three are the only senpais that came today." said Nono. Indeed, Keiko, Yukari and Haruhi, being the team captain and sub-captains, were the only upperclassmen that came with the first years. Juliet was present as well, being "ordered" to be the team manager for the game
"On that note; Noriko-chan." said Mai
"Hai?" Noriko replied
"You're captain out there today."
"Yes, you." said Keiko "You were last year's captain for Kama Middle. You can handle it."
"We'll make subs in the second half, but some of you will be playing for the whole game." said Yukari "This is partly to determine which first years will join the lineup for the qualifiers next month."
"There you have it. Do your best out there." said Haruhi
"Hai!" the starting 11 chorused before taking their places on the pitch
"Never thought I'd get a chance to see Tsujido High." said Keiko, looking around after the starting first years left "I wonder if she's around."
"Who?" Yukari asked
"Chiho Maou. She was one of my roommates when I was hospitalized, and she goes to this school. She's on the basketball team as I recall."
"I remember her. You made friends with her?" Mai asked
"I did. But, geez! We haven't seen or spoken to each other since we were released! She could've called!"
"If you had given me your contact info, then maybe I would've!" said a voice in the stands behind them. They turned around and it was Chiho "I didn't give you mine either, so I'm just as guilty."
"Chiho! Long time no see!" Keiko exclaimed "How you feeling?"
"Healthiest I've been since last fall." Chiho replied
"So you're Chiho." said Yukari
"What are you doing here?" Keiko asked
"The Girl's Basketball Team is off today, so I came to watch the game." Chiho replied "I understand that your first years are clashing with ours today."
"Indeed they are." said Haruhi
"Se solo giapponese non è stato parlato così in fretta, ho potuto capirli meglio. [If only Japanese wasn't spoken so fast, I could understand them better.]" Juliet thought "Volevo flirtare con Saito troppo. [I wanted to flirt with Saito too.]"
On the field;
"Who's that Aizawa-senpai is talking too?" Rikka asked as they prepared for the kickoff
"How should I know?" Noriko replied "Look at our opponents."
"Are these really first years like us?" Koko asked
"Seems that way." said Fujiko
"We're gonna leave 'em in the dust!" said Hibiki
Noriko and Hibiki kicked off. Hibiki took the ball a short way down Tsujido's side, but was quickly blocked by a persistent forward, forcing her to pass to Noriko
"If that's all Getto #1 has then she has no business.... What? When did she...?" Noriko glanced the end of the field at noticed that Rikka was already just outside the right side of the penalty zone "Maybe having that former Olympic-level sprinter on the team will come in handy after all." Noriko gave a high kick over the heads of all the Tsujido first years and Rikka received it.
With the Tsujido players confused from this play, Rikka took advantage of it and scored the first goal before the keeper could react.
On the bench;
"Did you see that?!" Yukari exclaimed as the first years cheered the goal
"I didn't even notice she'd run that far down the field." said Haruhi "Maybe that's the power of a Olympic-level sprinter."
"I just remembered!" Keiko piped up
"Remembered what?" Yukari and Chiho asked
"My dad once told me of his first inter-high tournament. In the second half of the round for the top 8, against Shonan High, his team faced a player that moved so fast there seemed to be multiple copies of him."
"Was that player a sprinter too?" Haruhi asked
"Uh-huh. He gave my dad's team some trouble before they figured out how to deal with him."
"But now we have a similar player on our team." said Mai "Noriko-chan was already set to join the starters, but it looks like Rikka-chan's earned it too. Her speed may come in handy."
On the field;
"Let's get another one like that!" Mikiri called from the defense line
"They'll be expecting that again." Rikka told Noriko
"Agreed. Nice goal, by the way." Noriko replied "Maybe coming to Enoshima wasn't a bad thing after all." Noriko thought
The rest of the first half went primarily in Enoshima's favor. The first years scored two more goals, Noriko in an assist with Fujiko, and Hibiki in an assist with Koko. Tsujido only managed to score once on them after three tries. The first one Chisa saved, the second one was stopped by the defense, shortly resulting their third goal. Their third attempt caught them off guard and resulted in Tsujido's first goal. At the end of the first half, the score was 1-3 in Enoshima's favor.
"Well done so far everyone." said Mai as they sat down for the break. Juliet handed them all water.
"To bad about that one goal," said Keiko "But three goals like that is something."
"Your compliments mean so much!" Rikka replied, starry-eyed
"Will you stop that!?"
"Quite a fan you have there." said a familiar voice in the stands. They turned around, and sitting behind Chiho was Suzuka "Yo!"
"Suzuka! Long time no see!" said Keiko
"It hasn't been that long." Suzuka replied "I still live in Sakagami ya know."
"I kept missing ya."
"What'cha doing here?" Haruhi asked
"I can't see the talents my precious kohais managed to gather?" Suzuka asked
"Who's that?" the triplets asked
"That's Suzuka. She was last year's captain." Noriko explained
"How's college?" Yukari asked
"So far so good. Nittai Ladies gave me a warm welcome, but training is on a whole 'nother level." said Suzuka
"I imagine so." said Chiho
"Nice collection of first years you got this year. Over twice as many as last year."
"We know." said Haruhi
"Things all right between you and Yamato-senpai?" Keiko asked slyly
"Oh, we're doing fine." Suzuka replied earnestly
"Now that the former captain is watching, we have to play well." said Aki
"I'm not worried about what she thinks." said Noriko
"By the way." said Suzuka "With all the talent I've seen so far, I can just see you guys winning Nationals." this caused most of the first years to flush with embarrassment
After a few subs on both sides, the second half commenced. However, it didn't start off as well as the first half. In just five minutes, Tsujido tied the score again. At the ten-minute mark, Enoshima managed to pull a goal ahead, putting the score at 3-4 in for Enoshima, but was starting to feel the pressure. Teamwork wasn't what it was during first half either.
"Come on, get it together!" Noriko exclaimed to the first year girl that had subbed for Rikka
"Sumimasen!" the girl replied
"Don't be so hard on her." said Fujiko as Tsujido prepared to kickoff again
On the bench;
"Is it me or has the teamwork fallen apart since the last half?" Chiho asked
"It's not you." Keiko confirmed "Everyone's out of sync."
"They just managed to get used to how everybody moves in the first half, but the sudden appearance of unfamiliar members, and a different keeper, threw them off." said Yukari "They haven't had time to synchronize themselves with each other."
"Come on, let me in again!" said Rikka "I can turn this around!"
"I'm sure you could." said Mai "But the purpose of this match is to see the strength of all the first years. There won't be any more subs."
"Have a little faith." said Suzuka as Tsujido kicked off "Give it a few more minutes and they'll get their rhythm back."
"Well said." said Haruhi
On the field;
Suzuka was right. In a few minutes the first years managed to synchronize their moves again and scored two more goals. But Tsujido was getting used to them too and scored three. With five minutes left, it was a tie game again at 6-6.
"Let's get one more goal, ladies!" Noriko called to the team as she and Hibiki prepared to kickoff once more "These first years are better than I thought. Maybe coming to Enoshima wasn't such a bad thing after all. I can't help feeling new respect for this team and school bubbling up."
Enoshima kicked off once more and the clock was winding down fast. Noriko and the other attacking players pushed as hard as they could, but Tsujido was now used to them and blocked them at every opportunity. However, Enoshima used this to their advantage and soon lured the defense away from the center. Timing this just right, as a free player to charge in, Noriko sent the ball over her head and the free player took possession unopposed. It was over in seconds. Enoshima's player shot the ball right past the confused keeper, just as the whistle blew.
PEEP PEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEP
On the bench;
"6-7! And such a tactic too." said Mai
"Even we didn't pull off something like that last year." said Keiko
"True." said Yukari, who was at a loss for words
"That's quite a bit of talent you gathered this year." said Suzuka "I look forward to see you girls at nationals this year. No pressure."
"None taken." said Haruhi
"Now if you'll excuse me... I've got a date later." And Suzuka left at that
"I gotta go too. Can I have your contact info before I go?" Chiho asked Keiko
Chiho and Keiko exchanged numbers and e-mails before Chiho took her leave. By that time, the first years had rejoined the bench.
"Good game out there, all of you!" Mai exclaimed
"First contest formerly." said Juliet, as best she could
"You're getting some extra Japanese lessons." Mai told her
"I thought we were in a pinch at times." said Mikiri
"Found some new respect for this team?" Keiko asked Noriko, putting an arm around her
"Really!" Noriko replied
"Well everyone, let's head back to school. I'm sure your senpais will want to celebrate this with you." said Mai
"Hear, hear!" said Haruhi
Fresh from their first match and victory as high schoolers, the first years led the way back to Enoshima blooming with confidence. Their chances at getting to nationals never seemed higher this early in the school year. Hardly anybody could wait for the summer.