Shamer

CH 1.10

It was late May.
It was the time of year when the temperature was gradually rising and summer was approaching.

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I — Tanaka Kenji — was in the middle of the soccer team’s last middle school tournament.

“Takanashi! Over here!”

I called out to my teammate who was about to be surrounded by players from the opposing team.

He noticed and immediately kicked the ball this way.

“Kenji!”

“Okay! Nice pass!”

The ball landed perfectly at my feet.

I wanted to go on the offensive from here, but the next thing I knew, the enemy team had me surrounded in no time.

“This guy is not very physical or good at dribbling! Rush him!”

One of the players who had surrounded me gave me an order.

What a terrible thing to say.
Well, he was right…

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“Not good…”

The score was tied at 1-1.
The game had already gone into overtime, and we were in the second half of the game.
With roughly two minutes left, if time was used out here, the game would go into a penalty shootout…

We were not very good at penalty kicks.

So, we must score a goal here…

“Go for it~!! Kinu~!!”

Suddenly, I heard the girls cheering.
“Kinu” is my nickname.

Her voice was strangely clear in my ears, even though the surroundings should have been noisy with the instructions of the players and the sound of their footsteps running on the soccer field.
…I’ll do my best.

“Kinu! Over here!””

I looked in the direction of the voice and saw our team’s captain, ace striker, and my best friend—Itsuki Touya—raising his hand and calling out to me.

“We can’t let the forwards get the ball out of our hands! We’ve got to get in front of them!”

The player who had just taunted me gave another order again, and the players surrounding me all rushed to steal the ball.

I was underestimated and Touya was on the lookout.
I’ve seen this scene many times, and it was always the same.

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“Touya!”

After calling out his name, I, who was surrounded, kicked the ball straight out to the player who had put out his foot to take the ball directly in front of me.

The opponent looked puzzled for a moment, but the ball passed under his legs and went to Touya.

“Nice Kinu!”

“I’m counting on you, Ace!”

Touya received the ball and dribbled down the field at great speed.

“Don’t let him go free! Stop him!”

The player in front of me gave a panicked order.

Immediately after, the players of the enemy team stood in front of Touya, who was relentlessly advancing forward.

There were three of them.
Normally, I would have passed the ball…but not for Touya.

“What!?”

The first one he passed with simple speed.

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“No way!?” “Damn!”

The second and third players were passed in a blink of an eye with the use of skillful feints.

As expected of our ace, who had the best control of the ball.

“Keeper! Stop him!”

With all of the opponent’s defenders out of the way, the only player left in front of Touya was the keeper.

The keeper was bold enough to step forward to block the path of Touya’s shot.

That was probably not a bad decision.

However, Touya, seeing the opponent’s movement, gently kicked the ball out.

The ball floated up and over the keeper’s head.

It drew a beautiful arc and went straight into the goal.

“Yes!”

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Touya’s voice was subdued and raised his fist.

I thought he should be happier, but he was always like that.

“As expected of Touya! Nice shot!

“Our ace is the best!”

Our teammates praised him for scoring the winning goal.

There was less than a minute left.
If we don’t let up, we would probably win.

“Nice pass! Kinu!”

Touya was making a sign toward me.
While none of my teammates were talking about me, he was the only one who praised me like that.
This was always the case.

“That was a nice shot by Touya, too! That’s our ace!”

I said, and he responded by raising his hand.

We defended the remaining minute without any danger and won the game.

With this, we advanced to the finals of the Tokyo tournament.
We were just one win away from our long-awaited national tournament.

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