New Soccer & Old Soccer
Just before Keiko and Suzuka kicked off, Keiko looked behind her at her current teammates; Moka, who was right behind her, kissed a small silver cross she was wearing as if she had just done a prayer "Is she religious, or just plain superstitious?" Keiko thought. Nagisa was near the water, as if to prevent the ball from going in, and Yuzuki was behind Suzuka. Keiko looked forward again and saw that Team A's formation was much the same.
Mai's whistle sounded. Keiko and Suzuka kicked off, and Keiko started toward the goal. Keiko passed two defenders before she got near the goal, only to be blocked by Yuki "You won't block me this time, Yuki..." Keiko said before Yuki kicked the ball through Keiko's legs, allowing Tsukasa to take it. "Nice one newcomer." Tsukasa called back as she passed Suzuka and Yuzuki. She then found herself blocked by Moka, and passed it to Miki, who received it flawlessly and advanced further ahead. "I just gotta get past Nagisa, and we can go on the... what? When did she...?" Miki thought as Keiko suddenly appeared in front of her. Keiko took advantage of Miki's brief confusion, stole the ball and passed it to Suzuka. "Did she predict where the ball was gonna be? Whatever, I'm liking that girl more and more." Suzuka thought as she advanced toward the goal again. When she found herself blocked by the final defender, she noticed Keiko near the goal, again wondering if she predicted the ball's movements, and made a strong pass to her. Keiko then gave the ball a Diving Header into the goal past Amuro.
"Goal! Team B, 1-0!" Mai called after blowing her whistle "Her style, those goal hunting moves, are almost exactly like her father's." Mai thought
By the time the first half was over, Keiko's team had scored another goal, and never allowed the ball into the water.
"Phew." Keiko sighed as she and Yuki settled themselves on the steps for the break "That was exhausting."
"I know, I could hardly run." said Yuki as she took off her jersey
"But you looked like you were enjoying yourselves." said Suzuka as she and Miki sat down next to them
"We were, Senpai." said Keiko "I don't think I've ever had so much fun before."
"Beach Soccer is fun." said Suzuka "It's been a traditional Enoshima practice method since the days of the FC, and that was over twenty-five years ago."
"A long time." said Miki as Keiko suddenly felt a cold bottle next to her face
"Still alive, Keiko-chan?" Saito asked
"Go away." Keiko said coldly
"I'll go get a sports drink from a vendor." Keiko said before walking off
"Kei-chan! Wait for me." Yuki called as she took of after her
"What did you do to make her hate you so much?" Suzuka asked Saito
"Nah, she doesn't hate me, she's head-over-heels for me." Saito responded
"Oh yeah, we can see that." Miki said sarcastically
"Okay, she's not crazy about me. But really, she doesn't hate me, she just doesn't trust me."
"Why not?" Suzuka asked
"Because, by her information, I'm a ladies man and a pervert."
"That explains it." Suzuka and Miki said unison
"I mean it, Kei-chan." said Yuki as they looked at the selection in the vendor they found "That header with the first goal was amazing. You'd never do that on a dirt field."
"Yeah, thanks." Keiko said indifferently as she pulled a ¥50 coin out of her wallet
"Still not happy Saito-kun's managing the team?"
"Why should I be? You know what he almost did to me."
"That was two years ago. I know he's overconfident, but can't you give him a break?"
"Hey look, two babes in bikinis!" said a voice to their right. It was a guy heading three others
"Oh, great, roving males." said Keiko as she put her coin in the vendor and pressed the button
"Care to come have some fun with us?" said another of the boys
"No we don't." Keiko told them as she took out her drink. Just then, one of the boys flicked a ¥100 coin to her, which Keiko caught.
"Consider that on me." said the boy
"Such a gentleman." Keiko replied putting the coin in her wallet "Now go away."
"Oh, we don't feel like leaving. Do we, boys?"
"Beat it before we call the cops." said a voice behind the boys. It was Saito, accompanied by Suzuka
"Did you say the cops?"
"I have my phone right here." Saito proclaimed, brandishing his smartphone. This caused the boys to leave without another word
"You two all right?" Suzuka asked
"We're fine, they didn't even touch us." Keiko replied
"They were scary." said Yuki
"Thanks." Keiko said to Saito, though grudgingly
"No problem." Saito responded
"You two were late for the restart, so coach sent us to look for you." Suzuka told them, and they all made their way back to practice
"Practice was great today!" Keiko told her family at dinner later that evening "I can't remember when I've ever had more fun."
"He-he, I told you Enoshima puts a lot of emphasis on having fun." said Kakeru
"And we thought you'd be playing Beach Soccer on the first day, that's why we gave you those swimsuits." said Nana
"I also gotta admit that it was a little rough at the same time," said Keiko "I've never played Beach Soccer before today."
"Yes you have, we all have." said Nana
"We have? When?" Keiko asked as Hiroki and Ryo exchanged looks of confusion
"I think your mother was still pregnant with Koichi." said Kakeru
"So it's been almost a decade, of course they wouldn't remember!" Nana told Kakeru fiercely
"Please don't fight." Keiko said pleadingly
"Don't worry about it." Nana said with a smile
"By the way Kei-nee," said Ryo with a sly looking face "Saito-kun joined as the team manager, didn't he? How are things going with him?"
"You mean Saito Shirayuki?" said Hiroki
"I always thought he was the nicest boy." said Nana
"For the record, Ryo, I can't stand the fact that he's on the team." Keiko told her sister
"But you like him, don't you?" said Hiroki
"I do not!"
"Do too." said Ryo "I heard from a senpai that you came close to going out with him."
"Me? With that ladies man? I never liked him." Keiko said
"Yes you did." said Hiroki
"For goodness' sake, you two. Koichi, say something." Keiko told her youngest brother. But Koichi, being a boy of few words, just kept eating while giving a look that said "Don't drag me into this.", "Thanks, Koichi. You're a true little brother." Keiko said with an annoyed look. Just then the doorbell rang "Don't get up, I'll get it." Keiko told her mother, who had half risen from the table. Glad of an excuse to get away for a few moments, Keiko got up and made for the front door. "Those two." Keiko thought as she reached the door "If they knew what Saito almost did to me, they'd say different about him." Keiko opened the door, and in the frame stood Mai Murasaki.
"Good evening, Keiko-chan." said Mai
"Murasaki-sensei!" Keiko said, suddenly feeling really nervous "W-w-whatever you're here to tell my parents, I'd appreciate at least ten minutes to think of an excuse!"
"Oh, it's nothing like that." Mai said assuringly as she took off her shoes and came in "Though I am here to see your parents, I just fancied a chat with them. And by the way, we're outside of school, so you can just call me Mai." Mai told her as Keiko closed the door
"Keiko, who is it?" Nana called
"My homeroom teacher." Keiko told them as she returned to the dining room with Mai behind her
"Nice to see you all again." said Mai
"Mai-chan!" Nana and Kakeru exclaimed at the site of their old friend. Nana actually got up and embraced Mai like a long-lost sister, leaving Keiko and the kids very confused
"How long has it been?" Nana asked as she let go of Mai at last
"Too long." said Mai as they sat down at the table
"Um, are we missing something?" Keiko asked, sitting down again as well
"Of course, we never told you." said Kakeru "Mai is an old friend of ours."
"She's also my old teammate from Nadeshiko Japan." said Nana "And, along with me, is one of the founders of the Enoshima High Girls Soccer Team. To think she's your teacher and coach now too. It can't be a coincidence."
"Agreed." said Mai "When I saw her name on the sign-up list, I thought there was some kind of a mistake. But I was even more surprised when I saw her in my class. Keiko, you look just like Kakerucchi. I couldn't believe my eyes, or how big you'd gotten. You've grown up so much. The last time I saw you, you were no bigger than a loaf of bread."
"'Kakerucchi'?" Keiko, Hiroki and Ryo said, looking at their father
"Still using that old nickname for me?" Kakeru inquired
"Old habits die hard." said Mai "And during practice today, I noticed that her playing style is almost identical to yours and Nana's."
"Well, we did teach our kids everything they know."
"Papa, don't brag." said Keiko
"But I really meant it." Mai told Keiko "I know I subbed you out during the second half, but that was just so everyone got a chance to play today. But I was really impressed with you. You even pulled off Nana's 'Witch Turn', and Kakerucchi's 'Phi Trick', flawlessly."
"Nee-chan is the best player of the four of us." said Hiroki
"No one's as talented as she is." said Ryo
"That's not true, you three have your talent as well." Keiko said modestly as she got up from the table
"Going somewhere?" Mai asked
"The four of us are going to leave so that you three can catch up." Feeling it was best not to argue, Hiroki, Ryo, and Koichi followed Keiko out of the dining room
"I notice that the twins look more like you than Kakerucchi." Mai told Nana once the kids were gone
"Yeah. But our youngest, Koichi, like Keiko, looks like Kakeru." said Nana
"I noticed." said Mai "You've taught Keiko well. And I imagine the same is true with Hiroki, Ryo, and Koichi. Old school is definitely the way to go when learning to play soccer. Still, she's missing something crucial. A few new moves of her own. A soccer all of her own."
"That's not something we can help her with." said Kakeru "She needs to discover it for herself. Now, I imagine a little 'get together with old friends' is not the only reason you came here."
"You're right." Mai confessed "As I said before, I'm really impressed with Keiko. She's already got what it takes to play on the national level. So there's something I want to do for her, but I can't do it without your approval."
"We're listening." said Nana
"I'm still in contact with Taeko, who's now the coach for Nadeshiko Japan."
"Go on." said Kakeru
"She gives me inside information on the going-ons with the team, and allows me to make recommendations for potential players from Enoshima. So I want to recommend Keiko."
"You're kidding!" said Kakeru
"For real?" said Nana
"There's some room for improvement with her technique, but she has what it takes." said Mai "Further, discovering her own soccer, as you said, is not something any of us can teach her, and I'm not sure she'll be able to find it at Enoshima. But she might find it by playing with the representatives. So will you allow it?"
Kakeru and Nana looked at each other, clearly unsure whether to allow it or not.