Today’s Tangerine Times includes two articles that seem to be inspired by Mr. Donnelly’s conversation with Paul at last Sunday’s gathering at the Donnelly home. One article is about the soccer teams in the county. The other article is about Betty Bright’s history as a hurdler.
As the Tangerine Middle School War Eagles soccer team waits to board the bus to go to Lake Windsor Middle School for their last game of the season, Paul notices that all the people who attended their home games are in the parking lot. As the team boards the bus, he sees twenty-five or more cars and trucks lining up behind the bus.
On the trip to Lake Windsor, Henry D. tells Paul about last year’s game. Both teams had a 9-1 record going into the game, which was held at Tangerine. But, last year, Lake Windsor beat Tangerine. Victor adds that Lake Windsor stole the championship last year and must pay this year.
As the bus goes by the housing developments near Paul’s home, the team members make comments and refer to the housing developments as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Paul sees the places that he goes by all the time with different eyes, with the eyes of a Tangerine War Eagle.
There is a big crowd around the Lake Windsor soccer field. The coach parks the bus near the visitor’s corner-kick area like she does at all away games.
As the team runs around the perimeter of the soccer field, Paul notices people that he knows. Mr. Donnelly gives him a thumbs-up sign. The run ends with a turn at midfield that brings the team to the center of the field where Victor, who led them during the run, and Betty Bright lead the team in their war cry.
The game begins. Victor and Gino clash right off. As part of this clash, a large Lake Windsor fullback hits Victor in the face causing him to fall and hit his head. The referee sends the fullback out of the game. As a result of Victor being knocked down, Paul goes in as his substitute, even though Victor is sure that he is ready to resume play. When play resumes, the War Eagles, in a team effort quickly score a goal. Lake Windsor’s Tommy Acoso scores next. In the process of attempting to block him, Shandra’s stomach is hit, causing her to vomit. Because of this, Paul becomes substitute goalie. When Gino attempts a goal, the ball hits Paul in the face, and bounces back to Gino who then makes the goal. Now Lake Windsor is ahead 2-1. His latest encounter with the ball leaves Paul with a bloody nose. He also has more spirit than ever. He manages to stop everything that comes his way. When the half ends, the score is still 2-1.
During halftime, Coach Walski of the Lake Windsor team tells Betty Bright that Paul is not eligible to play. If he plays in the second half, the War Eagles will forfeit the game. Betty has an answer. She tells him that the goalie who had to leave the game earlier is Shandra Thomas. Shandra lives in Tangerine, as does her brother, Antoine Thomas, Lake Windsor’s star. After being hit with this information, Coach Walski decides that they should just play ball. Betty sends Paul back to the goal.
This half Victor is back in the game. That takes some pressure off of Paul. Every time the ball comes his way, Paul is ready for it. The next goal is scored by an unexpected player, Cesar, Tangerine’s smallest substitute, also called Cesar Salad.
The score remains 2-2. Gino and Victor collide and the referee calls a penalty on Victor, who, after the crash, had landed on Gino.
As Gino moves toward the ball to make his penalty shot, Paul thinks that he knows from experience where Gino will aim and moves in that direction. But, Gino surprises him. Realizing too late where Gino had aimed, Paul thinks that a goal was scored, but it wasn’t.. Gino had missed the goal. Because time runs out, the game ends with a tie score, 2-2. Afterward, Gino tells Paul that Paul made him miss the shot..
Kerri approaches Paul and compliments him.
Mom wants to know if both teams are champions. Paul explains that Tangerine’s record is better, 9-0-1, compared to Lake Windsor’s, 9-0-2.Then he tells her that he plans to go back on the bus with the team. Mom complains because it means more driving for her. But Paul gets his way.
On the way to the bus, Paul gets his picture taken with Cesar, Maya, and Victor for tomorrow’s Tangerine Times. On the bus, Victor renames Cesar Salad. He is to be called Julius Cesar now. The caravan gets loud. People that they pass stop and look. Paul is happy that he took the memorable ride on the bus.