An all-boys soccer team is put to the test when a talented girl wants to join their ranks.
Jeff Michaels is excited to learn that his middle school will now be offering sports teams for sixth graders in the fall: field hockey for girls and soccer for boys. When his female classmate Andrea “Andi” Carillo shows up for soccer tryouts, he’s impressed by her skill on the field. Others, however, are upset and even angry that she’s attempting to join the team. When Andi is unjustly excluded by a disgruntled coach, Jeff and Andi reach out to the media to pressure him into letting her on the team. Andi grapples for playing time and soon proves her strength on and off the field, but the team is still fractured by huge disagreements over Andi and even bigger egos. The team will have to learn to work together to reach their goal of winning the conference title. Feinstein includes detailed play-by-play of the middle school soccer matches that will be thrilling for soccer buffs but less exciting for the casual reader. Andi’s grit and refusal to back down in the face of sexism are inspirational and reflect the real challenges facing student athletes today. It is mentioned briefly that one soccer teammate is Jewish and two are black; other characters are assumed white.
Soccer fans will get a kick out of the game-day action in this straightforward series opener. (Fiction. 8-14)