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Boy's Soccer? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

I dug my fingernails deep into the ground, feeling the warm, moist dirt beneath me. I could see the sun beating down on the field before me, but I was hidden from it's wrath in my little pocket of shade. I glanced down at the book that lay forgotten in my lap, its dog eared pages fluttered slightly in the wind.
I was jerked out of my daydream with a familiar yell from my brother's over enthusiastic soccer coach. “Come on take that shot Paxton!” he shouted. I watched as Paxton leaned back and sent the ball soaring over the goal towards the parking lot. Glad for an excuse to move, I stood up wiping my dirty hands on my shirt. I couldn't help laughing as the wind whipped my hair to and fro, and the thick grass tickled my bare feet. The boys waved to me as I kicked the ball back to a slightly sheepish looking Paxton. I rolled my eyes and turned back towards my patch of trees.
“Abby,” I looked over my shoulder at Jeff, “ I really need one more player for this drill, so do you want to come play?” I hesitated, unsure, then as I opened my mouth to reply, I noticed the mischievous grins glued to the boys' faces.
“Sure,” I told him corralling my messy brown hair up into a loose ponytail, “why not?”
He threw me a blue penny as I jogged onto the field. The boys set up for a kick-off muttering and snickering about their new plan to destroy the other team. They waited until the whistle blew then Eli tapped the soccer ball back to Teagan who missed it, but managed to recover it anyway. The ball bounced back and forth between teams, leaving the score tied one to one.
“Two minutes left!” Jeff yelled as he took another slurp of his smoothie, crunching the ice loudly as he watched us from the sideline.
I felt like someone was watching me, I turned around and noticed the line of parents watching from behind our goal. I felt my cheeks turn the color of ripe tomatoes, wondering what they were thinking. Although my friends and I sometimes played with them a recess this felt different to me.
A hard, curving shot from Emmett jerked me out of my reverie as I jumped up into it's path. I felt the hard thunk as it hit my chest and bounced out in front of me. I tapped the ball gently to one side dodging Paxton, and Alden. I could feel my body taking over, as dribbled towards the goal my bangs rippling across my forehead in the warm wind. I forgot about the parents, and all the boys watching me, my determination slowly filling my mind leaving space for little else. Standing alone there was a single defender between the goal and me, his expression stubborn as he sprinted towards me. I could hear the panting of the boys behind me as they struggled to catch up, and I saw the purposeful glare on Moo-sho's face as he charged towards me. I leaned back as if preparing to take a shot, and watched as Moo-shoo stopped right in front of looking unsure. He only hesitated for a second, but that was all it took for me to tap it softly to one side of him, and take the shot. I watched the ball arc through the air, over the goalie's outstretched arms, and fall into the net.
It was so silent I could hear my own ragged breathing, as slowly I turned towards my team. I lifted my shoulders slightly, silently asking them for an answer. I opened my mouth but before I could say anything, I saw the wide grins appearing on the boy's shocked faces. A second later I saw Eli running towards me, followed by the rest of my team. I broke out in an ecstatic smile of my own. I shook my hair out of it's braid letting it stream out behind me, as I ran to meet them.
“Wow,” Teagan said smiling shyly at me.
“Great shot,” Keiran told me.
The boys surrounded me laughing and cheering, excitedly. Even Moo-shoo gave me a sheepish grin, and a hug. I heard clapping, and I whipped around in surprise to see the parents and Jeff applauding me. Jeff strode over to us, clutching his crushed plastic cup in one hand, and a whistle in the other.
He put an arm on my shoulder, “Nice job out there,” he told me, “I'm guessing you play a little soccer?”
I nodded slowly, wondering what was coming.
“You know, we could always use another a practice,” Jeff commented. “Do you want to join our team.”
“Um,” I looked around me, from the grinning boys, to the cheering parents, and finally back at Jeff.
“I'd really like that,” I told him firmly.
“Okay it's settled then,” he said warmly.
“Group hug!” Eli yelled and the boys all rushed towards me laughing. Crushed in the center of their mob, surrounded by jubilant shouts, I felt my heart soar along with them.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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