I circled the date on our schedule. Monday, June 24. Opening day. Rock, Flag, and Eagle would begin out summer season. Our ascent to a title match. The first stop on our tour? Those dastardly Bros & Hipsters United.
On paper and the field, RFE looked healthier and better than ever. Pauly’s back (is sweaty), Mike’s healthy, and Kevin gave me a way cool Superman arm band. We were ready to grind. I’m yo pusha. Hashtag READY, BRO.
But what’s this? Where you at Bros & Hips? Not enough bodies? Might RFE pick up a historic first win against our better-looking, smarter, more popular older brother — via forfeit? It just didn’t feel right.
Time ticked onward. Still not enough bodies. The panic and disappointment shone brightly against their neon jerseys. And then something happened.
It was a Thriller. Not like lowercase t, thriller, as in “exciting.” Like Thriller, the Michael Jackson video, because out of fucking nowhere, all these humans and zombies and undead mummies came crawling out of the woodwork. Suddenly all these strangers in hot yellow shirts materialized, put on their socks and boots, and changed the lay of the game from a 9v6 to a 9v7 to a 9vTheWorld.
RFE smartly started the game by tallying a goal, taking advantage of the numbers we had on Bros & Hips. We controlled possession down the offensive third before squeezing the ball into the box, where Jeremy Gordon blasted a ball that ricocheted against Bros & Hipsters’ goalie, and the casually bounced into the net. The goal wasn’t pretty, but piss off because neither are you.
The vacancies on Bros & Hipsters began to fill in like a gentrifying neighborhood (helloooooo H Street!), and with each new player on the field RFE’s ability to possess the ball diminished. Because of the many changes in the dynamic of our opponents, it was nearly impossible to establish a rhythm to the game. It felt like warfare, where we were the organized military fighting a bunch of rogue, decentralized cells. Good thing this is just a simile, otherwise it would really sound like I just called our opponents terrorists.
Moments after halftime, Bros & Hipsters marched downfield and put one in the back of the net, tying the score at 1-1. I don’t remember who or how, but it happened. I’m not proud of it.
The good news is that RFE maintained composure and continued to play patiently, serving the ball through midfielders and working to establish a rhythm. It was as if Rihanna started yelling at us, “Please don’t stop the music!” and we were like “OK, RiRi, ya trick skeezer, we won’t.”
With only a few minutes remaining in the game, Shaina Ross carried the ball down the sideline and pinched in at the corners, like she was forming a pie crust. At the 12 yard-line, she saw Mike Mastrantuono shake his defender and sent him a gentle pass across the box. Just like the time I made a gigantic pot of chili and he ate almost the whole thing, Mike put that shit away without anyone’s consent.
RFE held the lead 2-1. To pull off our first victory against our Bros & Hips, all we’d have to do is hold those little neon lightning bugs in our jar and poke holes in the lid.
No forfeits needed, right? Just a win, the old fashioned way, right?
Ugh, if only.
Those zombies just kept coming. They smelled fear. They smelled blood. They attacked brutally, with no regard for human life. RFE’s keeper, Alex Bard, fended off about a dozen shots, securing the box in a way he’s been unable to replicate with women. It was phenomenal to watch him. The kid was like a mongoose.
But then with thirty seconds to go, Bros & Hipsters teed off a goal kick and sprinted downfield without giving RFE any chance to set its defense. They converged dangerously and moved in sync. With their teeth bared, Bros & Hips pulled off the greatest choreographed sequence in the history of music videos.
With one glancing blow, they sent in the equalizer along with the message that they refused to lose (but that tying is OK). Seconds later, the whistle blew to end the game in a 2-2 tie that felt like a loss.
The tie against Bros & Hipsters will only help RFE in our quest to the playoffs, and the feeling of disappointment is one we won’t soon forget. It’s fuel for the fire, and we’re going for a long, slow burn. Which I mean in the good way. Not like herpes.