“Well, we didn’t change the field in any way. Shall we give you a hint?” Satoru asked.
Afraid that he would let something slip in the heat of the moment, I quickly interrupted.
“We’ll tell you the trick later. But hadn’t you better keep looking? This is cutting into your time, you know.”
Manabu looked perplexed, but went back to searching for the goal. Even if he found it now, more than a minute would have passed. And it was also possible that he might just never find it. The goal was perfectly covered by the thin clay disk disguised to look like the sandy ground. Much like how a ray burrows part of itself into the ocean floor to blend in, the edge of the disk was concealed by sand. (Contrary to Satoru’s claim about not altering the field at all, what we were doing was probably just short of breaking the rules.)
For a while, team two pushed the ball around, searching fruitlessly for the goal. Then by a stroke of luck, they managed to roll on top of the disk. Since the disk was only made right before the match, it wasn’t properly strengthened and couldn’t hold up the weight of a ten kilo ball. It broke in half and the ball fell into the goal.
“Ah, it breaks too easily, just as we thought.”
“But it’s fulfilled its purpose. They took over three minutes so it’ll be an easy victory for us,” Satoru said optimistically.
We were all taken by his enthusiasm. There was no way team two’s defenders were strong enough to stop us for three minutes.
Even as we switched sides and moved our pusher onto the field, we were still full of confidence.
We didn’t realize anything was wrong until team two started approaching us in waves with over ten defenders. Each person controlled at least two and attacked indiscriminately, slamming relentlessly into our attackers. Since there were so many, we couldn’t stop them all. Some slipped through and headed straight for the ball.
Even in the face of the onrushing defenders, Shun kept moving the ball forward calmly. Since we still had three minutes to spare, there was no hurry.