Taking One for the Team by Sanjay

I had just entered the Vetta building in Concord, thirty minutes before the start of the game of our season.  We were playing on the left field so I started walking in that general direction.  Our team has had a tough season, but not all terrible.  We had lost some close games, games we had no subs, or games where I was sure some of the other team’s players were older than us.  We also had some great games, shutting out the other team where in indoor it is really hard, games won in the last minute, or games where we just outplayed the other team.  This game though may have been our best game all year.

We were playing W.C. Saint Louis.  They were about our skill level.  Last time we played them was earlier this season.  We almost beat them, but they came back by scoring three goals last minute to win.  It was a devastating loss so now was our chance for redemption.

I was looking for my teammates and I found them warming up.  Only a few were there, but we started warming up.  While I was passing coach pulls me aside to talk about my position.

“Are we going to be missing any players today?” I ask as we are walking over to the bench which is confined in a small area.

“Only a couple…” Coach Bruce replied.  Unfortunately, the people we were missing were both midfielders so I was going to have to help out extra there.  “You will be playing left midfield, and be prepared to stay on the field for a while.”

“Okay,” I said.  I joined our team for our warm-up jog.  More of my team started to show up as there were approximately fifteen minutes until game.

As warm up ended, captains were called and the rest the team headed towards the bench.  After the coin toss, Nick started heading back.

“We have ball and are scoring on that goal,” Nick says as he points at the goal on the other side were the other team warmed up.  “We also need to redeem ourselves to end the season at 500.”

We all huddled up.  Nick always leads it.  “On three; one, two, three, FSC!” we said as a team.  Then the referee blew the whistle, so it was time for us to get on the field.  As I ran on the field, I could hear my teammates prepping us and the parents cheering for us.

The ref blew the whistle and the ball was kicked to me by Phillip and take the ball back.  I find Daniel at right defense and pass it back to him.  We keep the ball in our possession near our goal for a little time.

After keeping ball in our possession for a while, I receive the ball from Daniel.  I find Carter again.  He then takes the ball and dribbles up a little.  “I’m open,” Phillip says as he is open while next to one of the other defenders.  Carter passes it pass him so he can get the ball before the defender.  In the box Phillip shoots and just like that we are up 1-0.  Parents are already cheering for a goal when ten minutes haven’t even passed.

The ball is kicked off and the other team is quickly moving the ball around on our side of the field.  After some passes, a long shot is taken and it goes in.  1-1 is the score.

We kick off the ball and push onto the opponents half.  I receive the ball out of the air.  I look to move forward almost in the box, but quickly pass back to Alex.  He shoots from outside the box and misses, but Ben able to recover the ball shoots.  He scores to make the game 2-1 which is led by us.

The other team has the ball keeping it away from us.  Then I am subbed out which will possibly be one of my few breaks.  I quickly get off the field.  As I am getting my ice cold water, I hear cheering, but I hear it from the parents of the other team.  I look up and the other team is celebrating as they have tied the score at 2-2.

I am drinking my water while watching the game.  Sebastian gets the ball and dribbles into open area.  That allowed him to find Gabriel and give him an open pass.  He finds Nick who passes back to Gabriel getting the defender chasing everywhere.  Gabriel shoots and the ball barely gets by the goalies hands allowing us to take the lead again.  While we are celebrating, I take Sebastian off so I he can get a break.

As I came on, the man I was going to mark was subbed of for a guy who was probably a couple heads taller than me.  He was also their best player and the one who scored the winning goal the last time we played them.  I get the ball and pass it back to Daniel.  He attempts to pass it to Nick, but his pass is wide in my direction.  I chase the ball and my man follows me.  I get to the ball and so does the giant guarding me.  I turn and his leg attempting to get the ball trips me.  I am tangled up and pushed aside by him.  I land on the turf, knee first.  I am in pain while the ball is still in play.  I get a quick glimpse as the other team scores with a goal by my man.  I am in pain while Coach Bruce walks onto the field in this game which is tied at 3-3.

I had jammed my knee into the ground which made it hard to even walk.  It didn’t look painful, but it was.  I knew that because not everybody believed I was hurt, for example, Carter.  As I was helped off the field, he thought I flopped so he was laughing hysterically.  He would think that until I showed up to school the next day with my knee all bandaged up.

“Do you think you will be able to play at all?” coach asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Okay,” coach said.  “This is going to be tough.”

The whistle blew signaling half time.  Our players who were just on the field ran back to the bench.  After discussing game plan, we took the field defending the other goal.  I obviously sat on the bench.  The second half started slow and one of the other team’s players got injured.  While he was recovering, one of our midfielders was tired and asked coach for a break.

“Do you think I will be able to get a break,” I heard as I was listening to their conversation.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think there is much we can do about it,” Coach said.

Knowing it would be hard, I had to take one for the team.  “I can play if I need to,” I interrupted.

“Are you sure Sanjay?” Coach asked.

“Yes.”

I got on the field just before the ball was in play.  Luckily, my knee recovered a little so I could move more, but I wasn’t able to run at full speed.  The ball was passed to another player and passed back with the opponent’s possession.  I was having trouble keeping up with my man who was now in the box.  The ball was crossed and my man scored of the cross, and I wasn’t able to cover him.

I was subbed off because Coach though I wasn’t able to play.  Just then we scored again.  The parents were going crazy and I knew I was eventually going to ask coach.

“Coach Bruce,” I called.  He started to walk over.  “Do you think I will be able to play?”

“We’ll see,” he replied.

I was waiting on the bench when he called Sebastian off for me to come in.  I wasn’t part of many plays when I first came on.  Alex and Daniel were doing a great job at defense while keeping the ball away from the other team.  The other team was only able to get one shot which was stopped by our goalie Charlie who made a great save.

Then Charlie threw the ball to Carter who dribbled up.  Then he passed to Ben who kicked the ball right after past the defender to me which made the perfect chance to shoot.  I shot, but it went wide.  Luckily Ben was there to recover it once again.  He shot, but his shot went wide and bounced right to me.  I shot it right out of the air and went in.

I was so happy about my dramatic goal putting us up 5-4.  I hear my teammates telling me “good job” and “nice goal.”

I was taken out after that which was good because my leg was about to give out.  I was on the bench hydrating.  That would end up being my last time on the field.  I still knew that the game wasn’t totally over.

The other team still could come back.  The other team quickly pressured our goal after kicking off.  We played defense well, but there offense scared me with little time left.  The Charlie made another great save and was able to clear the ball out.  Gabriel got the ball and dribbled up.  He in Phillip made a one-two to get Gabriel in the box with an open shot.  He shot and got a great goal.  Most importantly, we were winning 6-4 which basically secured our victory with little time left.

After we won, everyone was congratulating us.  It was a great redemption and a great way to end the season.

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