"I hope you don't mind," Tara said, as she tied her hair into a high pony.
"No, don't worry," Willow said, looking at Tara's face. The high pony only accented her beautiful features, and it was practically the first time Willow was getting a look at Tara's face, since she'd always had her glasses on earlier. Willow couldn't help but look at the beautiful blue eyes, that she somehow knew could speak volumes when needed. Her gaze moved down to Tara's perfect nose, and finally her lips, where they lingered a little more than they normally would have when looking at another girl. Tara's lips were pink and full... "Delicious looking" Willow thought.
"Ok then, I better go warm up. Hey why don't you stand behind the substitutes bench? I mean you're not a player so you can't sit, but you could stand there, you know, be closer to the action" Tara said, before smiling and walking away.
Willow watched Tara walk away, and then it struck her. "Tara" she called out. Tara stopped walking to turn back and look at Willow with a curious look."Have a good match" Willow said.
"Thank you" Tara said, before turning back and walking towards the rest of the team, who had started their warm up.
Willow moved to the substitutes bench, which was empty since Buffy and the rest of the reserve players were warming up with the other girls. Coach Giles was watching them closely, calling out to some to be less lazy. The girls finished their warm up and began passing the ball around, before Anya moved to the middle of the circle and they started taking shots at her. Willow had heard so much about Tara as a player that she watched her closely, but really, didn't notice anything special about how the girl was just throwing the ball at the moment.
The referee blew the whistle, calling the captains for the toss. Tara and Emily walked onto the field from opposite diirections, grinning at eachother. Once there they shook hands with the coach and then with eachother. Willow watched as Tara gestured her hand towards Emily, allowing her to call the toss. Emily called heads, the coin fell, and she heard the referee say "Tails".
Tara said "We start," and Emily chose the far side again. Tara and the rest of the starters took their places, with Anya making her way to the goal, and the reserves coming over to the bench.
"Well, ok... time for my first handball match!" Buffy said cheerfully, before sitting on the bench with the rest of the girls.
Coach Giles walked over to the bench as well, and looking at Willow he smiled and said "We haven't been properly introduced. I'm Coach Giles".
"Willow Rosenberg," Willow said, shaking the hand Coach Giles offered.
"Pleased to meet you," he said, before looking at the girls in the field and adding "Well this is a tough match we have first up. The girls haven't even practiced a day together as a team. I hope we get through this."
Willow nodded her head, turning her attention back to the field as well.
The referee blew his whistle... the match had begun. Cameron, the P.P had possession, and as soon as the whistle blew she passed to Cordelia, the centre and jogged a little ahead of the rest of the team towards the oppositions goal. The rest follow, in an arch formation throughout. Cordelia to Tara to Samantha, back to Tara to Cordelia to Jessica to Nicole... back again the same way, as the girls reached Xaviers' nine meter arch. Two minutes later Tara fed the ball to Cameron, who faked, gave it back to Tara as she made it to the six meter and threw a weak shot. The Xaviers keeper stopped the ball, and immediately threw it back to one of her players, who'd already taken a head start, and ran towards the UC Sunnydale goal, dribbling. She shot, and Anya made a superb save.
Willow looked around, and noticed the bleachers starting to get very full for this match. She heard someone yell "C'mon Tara!" and looked up to see Zak cheering Tara on.
UCS had possession again, and the girls started to make their way towards the oppositions goal again. Once there, Cordelia tried to turn and pass to Tara, but again Tara moved too slow and was intercepted at the six by the Xaviers defense. The referee awarded a nine meter to UCS, and Willow watched as Cordelia and Tara argued over something. They took the positions, and on the coach's whistle, Cameron took possession, passed to Tara who tried to make her way to the six, and was once again blocked by Emily.
"What in God's name IS she trying to do???" Coach Giles said aloud. He called for a time out, while Willow was wondering if maybe Tara was just a little over rated as a player.
The girls made their way towards the bench. Coach Giles immediately asked Tara "What do you think you're doing out there???"
Tara simply said, "Cordelia doesn't want me taking shots from the nine."
Anya heard this and turned her full attention to Cordelia. "Cordy, you haven't played with Tara in over a year. You don't know what she's like. She's really improved her shots these past few months, and you have to remember that YOU'RE the graceful one who makes gaps and scores. Tara doesn't!"
"Alright," Cordelia gave in. "Take your shots!" she said, as the referee blew his whistle, calling for the players to get back onto the field.
"Ahh," Coach Giles said, "Now watch the fireworks."
Possession was UCS's. They made their way towards the Xaviers goal. On the nine, Cordelia had possession. She faked making a gap, got two players on her and at the last moment passed the ball to Tara, who understanding the move had begun to run in from the nine, knowing she was being set up for. Tara collected the ball on the run, jumped somewhere at eight meters and shot. The ball whizzed past the poor Caroline in the Xaviers goal at such a speed that the keeper couldn't do anything but watch it pass.
"Goal for UC Sunnydale!1-0!" The referee called, blowing his whistle as the bleachers around the field erupted with cheers for UCS. Tara jogged back to defense, her head held high, winking at Emily as she passed.
"Now that's more like it!" Coach Giles smiled.
Xaviers took possession, and began their move towards UCS's side. Once on the nine, their outer faked, puling two UCS defenders towards her, before feeding Emily, who seeing the opening got in and scored.
1-1, the teams were tied.
USC started at the half, moving to score. Time time Cordelia tried to fake and create a gap for herself, but was tripped. The referee blew the whistle, indicating a penalty in UCS's favour. Willow watched Tara and Cordelia discuss something for a second, before Tara took the ball and made her way to the penalty line marking. She took position, ball in her right hand, left leg forward, slightly bent at the knee, her foot just touching the line. The referee blew the whistle, Tara shot, putting all her weight onto her left leg as her right rose to give her power. Willow noticed the girls arm and shoulder muscles move, and was in awe of her athletic figure.She watched the ball as it shot into the top right corner of the goal.
"Goal to UC Sunnydale! 2-1!" the referee called, noting it down on his card.
"That's the way girl!" Zak called again, getting Tara to roll her eyes at him and smirk.
Xaviers were getting more aggressive, and Willow noticed Emily was their key player. As they moved to the nine, Emily started dribbling and moving towards the goal, made it to the six and was about to shoot when Jessica touched her shoulder. A penalty was awarded to Xaviers.
"Why???" Willow asked. "She didn't even hurt her!"
"In handball you cannot try and stop a player from behind once they've reached the six," Coach Giles explained. "Even a mere touch is called a foul".
Willow watched as Emily took the same pose as Tara had a mere few minutes earlier, and shot on the coaches whistle. Anya made a brilliant save by stretching to her far right, as once again the bleachers erupted in applause for the keeper.
Willow saw Tara looking at Coach Giles and making a "T" with her hands. Coach Giles called for a time out, and when the team made its way to the bench, he said "Tara has something to say".
Everyone looked at Tara. "Emily's their key player," she stated. "Cordelia, I want you on her PERMANENTLY on defense. Just imagine she's your siamese. Don't let her past you, or take a shot. The rest of us will stay on the six, and make sure we mark the extra gap. We need to frustrate the team by not letting their no.1 scorer in. This way theres also a better chance that Anya will stop the goals easier, and she can gain us possession with a steal, so we get a better chance to score as well. I'll take the fast breaks...always make sure you know where I am when we've stolen possession."
Willow knew Tara was speaking, and somewhere in her subconscious the words did register, she was sure. However, right them she was staring at how flushed Tara looked, with the sweat on her arms and legs making her shine in the sun. "She even manages to look beautiful in this condition," Willow thought. "Wait, why am I thinking she's beautiful???"
The whistle blew, and Coach Giles called after Tara "Tara, don't run too hard. Your ankles still not a hunder precent."
"Ha! Like she's ever gonna listen," Anya grinned, and she jogged back to the goal.
Willow was still wondering about her thought. "Yeah its ok to think girls are beautiful. I mean you look at Hollywood actresses, and go 'Wow', so why can't you do that in your everyday life?" Satisfied with her logic, she turned her attention back to the game.
Tara's plan was working. Emily was being held back by Cordelia, and the Xaviers team was lost without her. Sita took a weak shot at the goal, which Anya collected easily. Tara was already half way down the firld, and turned around to collect the ball that was thrown her way. Collecting, she turned back towards the Xaviers goal, ran dribbling the ball, got to the six and scored.
"The keeper didn't have a chance in hell to stop that one!" Willow thought.
"That girl runs like lightening," she heard Coach Giles remark, and nodded her head."EVen with that ankle" he added.
By half time, the score was 10 - 3 in UCS's favour. Tara had scored 6, Cordelia 2 and Cameron 1.
By the second half, UCS was high on confidence. At one point Tara herself stole possession by jumping and deflecting a pass, and dribbled all the way to the other end. She was chased by two Xaviers girls, since the rest gave up as soon as they saw her take off. The chasers were no match for her speed, and she easily passed the keeper as well. Coach Giles later called it "the best goal he'd ever seen."
The final whistle blew, and UCS had won 22 - 7, with Tara scoring 14 of the goals. She made her way to the losing team, and Willow watched as she shook hands with all the Xaviers girls, before finally hugging Emily. The rest of the UCS girls also shook hands with the other teams, before coming back to their own side.
"That was some match!!!" Buffy exclaimed, giving Tara a high five.
Tara blushed, softly saying a thanks. Willow noticed that the Tara on field was a lot more "in control girl" than the one off it. She spoke more on the field... "Or maybe she's just quiet around strangers" Willow thought, remembering that Tara didn't really know the whole team that well yet. Still, it did seem like Tara was quieter off the field, preferring to watch people.
Coach Giles said "Ok there aren't any more matches for you'll today, so you can head home. Be here at 10 a.m sharp tomorrow morning. We play Kennedy in the quarters. They've got two state players, so make sure you get your rest and are fresh tomorrow."
"Hey! We've got Tara!" Sharon said, getting Tara to blush and smile again. Willow couldn't help but grin at the other girls reacyion.
"Um, Tara, can they come over too? That way we can all come together tomorrow as a team," Anya said, raising an eyebrow. Tara simply nodded her head, and Anya spoke to the rest of the team. "Ok guys, you wanna come crash at Tara's tonight?"
"Won't her dorm room be too small?" Sharon asked.
"Tara doesn't live in the dorms. She's got her own one bedroom apartment, and we can all sleep there tonight and come together tomorrow morning. That way we can all get to know eachother, you know, like a team does. I mean who cares if you're only on the bench all throughout the tournament! You're still part of the team!" Cordelia said.
"Sounds good to me," Cameron said, and the rest of the team followed suit.
"Oh, and that includes you Willow," Anya said. "I mean, you are coming tomorrow too right? You're our lucky mascot!"
Willow laughed and said "Yeah that works for me... if Tara's ok I mean....?"
"Duh!" Tara smiled, "Not a problem at all".
"Alright then," Cordelia said, we meet at Tara's place at 7?" Everyone nodded their heads. "Ok, she lives in Oakland Park, apartment no.7. See you guys there then" she said, before waving at everyone and heading towards the parking lot. Everyone else said their goodbyes and walked their seperate ways too.
"Tara's place tonight! That should be fun huh?" Buffy said excitedly.
"Yeah," Willow smiled at her friends enthusiasm. She looked in Tara's direction and saw that Zak had run up to her, and they were talking. Buffy followed her friends gaze and said "Man, isn't he HOT????"
Willow nodded, and began to walk towards Buffy's car.