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Week 04: Marley & Sloan

(win a game)

Sloan supposed it was always going to end this way because, of course, it would. They’d been up two to zero until the seventieth minute. Then, one of their defenders tackled someone in the box, and the ref had called for a penalty. Marley had gone the right way, but the ball had hit her glove and deflected up, just not high enough. It was two to one, but Sloan was still feeling good about their chances. She got a nice cross in from a winger, but she mishit it, ruining their shot to really put the game away.

The other team secured possession and had a counterattack with four of their players against just one of Sloan’s and Marley, who did the best she could to block the ball, but they passed twice, and she couldn’t possibly stop the goal from happening. That one had been on their defense, but Sloan could tell her wife was taking it hard. Marley was a perfectionist and worked harder than anyone Sloan knew to get herself to number one goalie every year, and it had always been a competition. This past season, she’d lost out to their newest trade acquisition, who happened to be the backup goalie on the US Women’s National Team. When their starting goalkeeper had gone down with an injury, Marley had taken over, and she’d kept the job even when the woman had been cleared to play.

Now, they were in the second half of extra time, and the other team had a corner. There was only one minute of stoppage time, so it was almost over. If they held out here, it would go to penalties.

“Sloan, over,” Marley commanded as she did on corners. 

Sloan nodded and shifted to better mark her person. She watched as the player kicking raised her arm. This was it. They had to hold on here to get to kicking penalties, and she liked their chances. The ball bent in, and Sloan ran to follow her player. She turned just in time to see her wife make the best damn save she’d ever seen. Marley had stretched her long body all the way to the upper far post and had somehow, miraculously, knocked the ball out of the box when it had definitely been about to go in. 

Sloan had to focus, though; the ball was in play. No, it wasn’t just in play - it was about three yards away. She ran faster than the player she’d been marking and kicked it away from her, chasing the ball to midfield. Looking up to see if she had any help, Sloan saw that her team was behind her. She ran with the ball, once again checking for help and looking at the defenders and the goalie to see where she should pass, but she had no one to pass to yet. She could get the ball over to her winger, but she was marked too well; it would get intercepted.

Sloan decided they were not going to penalties today as she saw a gap in her defender’s legs. She kicked the ball through them, moved inside, and found the goalie waiting for her. She went near post when the goalie had expected her to go far post, and the ball hit the back of the net. Before she could celebrate, though, she checked the ref and that annoying little offside flag. It wasn’t raised; no one on her team had been offside. Full time was called. They’d won their first NWSL Championship.

Her team surrounded her, and before she knew it, Sloan was on the ground with a lot of women on top of her. She loved her team, but all she cared about in that moment was finding her wife. When the team finally let her up, she hugged several teammates. Then, she saw her. Her breath caught in her chest because Marley was her person, and Sloan still couldn’t believe she got to be married to her. She ran to her, and Marley lifted her in her arms.

“That save!” 

“Your goal!” Marley put her down and they held on to one another. “We did it, babe.”

“Finally,” Sloan replied. 

She wanted to kiss Marley, but they didn’t do that when they were on the field.

“Oh, just do it already,” one of their teammates said.

“Kiss the damn girl, Marley,” another added and laughed.

“No problem.” Marley cupped her cheeks at once and pressed her lips to Sloan’s, who happily kissed her back.

When they finally pulled apart, Sloan kissed Marley on the nose and said, “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“And let’s talk about it tonight after we celebrate.”

“Yeah?” Marley checked.

“I’m not done playing, but I want that with you. I can take a year off.”

“Really? Babe, you have to be sure. We can wait until you’re done playing. We can adopt. We-”

“I’m sure. I wanted to win a championship, and we just did that.” Sloan laughed. “Let’s do that other thing, and I’ll come back and win another one.”

Marley pressed her forehead to Sloan’s and replied, “I can’t wait.”

Finding a Keeper - Part II
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