Soccer Duel

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Book: Soccer Duel by Matt Christopher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Matt Christopher
Tags: Retail, Ages 8 & Up
potential buyers, Renny got out of the car and ran to join his teammates. He had never been so excited in his entire life! He couldn't wait to go up against the mighty Yellow Jackets. He knew Bryce was going to score his share of goals this series, but Renny was determined to do the same for his team. Bryce had inspired him to take the leadership role on the Hornets.
    He wasn't worried that Bryce would hate him if the Hornets won, either. Renny felt sure that he and Bryce were friends now. That was the best part about this championship series. The only thing better would have been if he and Bryce were on the same team.
    Suddenly, Turk Walters was standing opposite him. “Hey, Harding,” he said. “I've got to talk to you.”
    “What do you want?” Renny asked sharply. He had no desire to talk to Turk, unless Turk wanted to apologize for trying to hurt him.
    “C'mere,” Turk urged, waving for him to come closer.
    Reluctantly, Renny did so. “I've got to warm up,” he said impatiently. “Make it fast.”
    “I just wanted you to know,” Turk said with a mean little smile, “that it wasn't my idea to rough you up.”
    “Who told you to do it? Your coach?” Renny asked disbelievingly.
    “No,” Turk said. “As a matter of fact, it was Bryce McCormack.”
    Renny looked at Turk, dumbfounded. “Get out of here; I don't believe you.”
    “Why? You two such good buddies?” Turk prodded.
    “We get along okay,” Renny shot back. “He wouldn't do something like that.”
    “Oh, no?” Turk asked, the mean little smile returning. “Why don't you. ask him, then? Watch his eyes. You'll see.” Turk took a few steps away, then turned back to Renny. “The eyes don't lie, Harding. Oh, and hey, for what it's worth — I hope you kick the pants off those guys.”
    As Renny watched Turk lumber off, he felt suddenly sick to his stomach. Could it really be true? Bryce had been so nice to him, so friendly — had it all been a big lie? Had Bryce really played him like that?
    Just before the game, Bryce approached Renny, hand extended. “Hey, good game, okay?” he said with a warm smile.
    Renny stared back at him coldly. “Did you tell Turk Walters to come after me?” he asked, staring into Bryce's eyes.
    The eyes flickered in panic for just a split second.
    “Uh, no!” Bryce said, a little too hotly. “Did he tell you that?”
    “You did, didn't you.” It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
    Bryce cleared his throat. “I was just discussing strategy with him, that's all. Hey, I never thought he'd try to hurt you.”
    “Uh-huh,” Renny said. He sneered at Bryce's still-outstretched hand. Bryce lowered it. “See you on the field, Bryce,” he said. He turned his back on Bryce and ran off toward the Hornets' bench, a white-hot coal of anger and hurt burning in his stomach.
    When the whistle blew minutes later to start the game, Renny was everywhere. He reached the ball before anyone else could, constantly a step ahead of all the other players. And his shots, when he took them, were much more powerful than usual. Before ten minutes had passed, he had already scored two goals and just missed on a third.
    After each goal, Renny looked over at Bryce and caught his eye. Then he pointed straight at him, as if to say, “In your face,”
    Bryce stared back at him, and Renny could see that he was angry, too. But Renny didn't care. He was on a rampage, and nothing was going to stop him until he'd rubbed Bryce's face in it for betraying him like that!
    After the second goal, Bryce controlled the ball for the Yellow Jackets, driving, the play into the Hornets' zone. Renny saw an opportunity and sneaked up on Bryce from behind, diving and spearing the ball with his foot.
    Bryce lost control of the ball, and it went straight to Jordan Woo, who was playing some of his rare minutes on defense. Jordan wound up and kicked it hard. For once, he hit the ball square, and it floated over everyone's heads back downfield. Renny was

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