Sweet Valley High #51: Against the Odds

The moral of the story: High school soccer: serious business.

The Big Deal: A big soccer game.


The Sweet Valley soccer team wins some super important soccer game and everyone goes to the Dairi Burger to celebrate. Ronnie Edwards comes in wearing designer clothes, bragging about his new Mustang and offering to buy everyone whatever they want. Liz sees three guys sitting at the counter, and we know they’re bad news because they have beard stubble and leather jackets. One of them asks Ronnie about his car, so Ronnie takes him outside to show it off. A few minutes later, the other two ruffians follow them. Liz decides to make it her problem, and by that I mean Jeffrey’s problem. She tells him a few bad guys just followed Ronnie outside. Jeffrey goes after them.

Outside, Ronnie is all excited about showing his car off. Except it’s not really his car, it belongs to Big Al, a bookie. Ronnie’s been placing bets on high school teams and he thinks Big Al has become “like an uncle” to him, letting him bet on credit and lending him the Mustang. Anyway, one of the guys, Bruno (that’s another clue that he’s a bad guy, his name is Bruno), says he wants to show Ronnie his car around back. So they go behind the restaurant and Bruno and his buddies try to rob Ronnie. Then Jeffrey shows up and talks really tough and scares the guys away. Ronnie is grateful and offers him money as repayment, but Jeffrey doesn’t want it. He knows Ronnie’s been gambling and “just the thought of high school gambling made Jeffrey’s stomach turn.” He feels sorry for Ronnie though, and thinks he’s trying to buy people’s friendship because his abrasive attitude makes it hard for him to make friends.

On Monday, Liz is worried when Jeffrey is really late to lunch, but he finally shows up with Ronnie, who has been acting like Jeffrey’s his best friend ever since he saved him from Bruno and the boys. Jessica has been designing earrings and wants to market them, but she’d need a lot of money to get started. She starts talking about it as soon as Ronnie sits down, and he offers to give her a thousand dollars if she needs it. After school, Ronnie asks Jeffrey if he can borrow fifty dollars ‘cause there’s these guys in L.A., see, and they need their cash by tomorrow. Jeffrey gives him twenty-five dollars and tells Ronnie to think about giving up gambling. Ronnie goes to a Phi Epsilon meeting and asks his frat brothers for some money, but nobody will give him any. He calls Big Al to tell him he doesn’t have it and Big Al tells him a way he can make good.

Ronnie talks to Jeffrey the next day and asks him to make sure the soccer team wins the next game by exactly two points. Jeffrey is outraged and tells Ronnie to back off, but then Ronnie tells him he “might not make it to Saturday,” and Jeffrey says he’ll think about it. Liz overhears some of this and asks Jeffrey all about it all the way home. She does that thing where she won’t shut up until she’s pissed Jeffrey off enough to snap at her. He’s still thinking about the whole thing at soccer practice, but when he starts playing badly he decides Ronnie’s just going to have to fend for himself because Jeffrey refuses to be a douchebag and betray his team.

Jessica has managed to get a jewelry store interested in her designs. She goes to order materials to make more earrings and the total comes to over nine hundred dollars. She thinks about putting the whole thing on the skids, but then she remembers Ronnie’s offer. She tells the warehouse she’ll be by the next day with cash.

Ronnie is followed on his way to school the next day. He gets nervous and hops on the freeway, but he goes west, which, as we all know, is where the ocean is. The freeway ends and he has to exit, and the other car catches up to him. Ronnie gets out and tries to make a run for it, but a guy grabs him and roughs him up as a “friendly reminder” from Big Al. Ronnie goes to school and begs Jeffrey to help him. Jeffrey finally agrees to do it. Dammit, Jeffrey.

Jessica finds Ronnie after school and asks for that loan he promised, but he tells her he doesn’t have any money. It’s all good, though. Alice gives her the credit card. Ugh. Jessica spends Friday night and Saturday morning making jewelry, and then the woman from the store calls to tell her the management has decided to change the store’s image so they won’t be able to sell her creations after all. Ned and Alice make her get a job at the store so she can pay back the credit card bill.

Liz watches Jeffrey’s soccer practice after school and is worried because he’s playing badly. John Pfeiffer says a scout will be at the game and maybe that’s why Jeffrey’s nervous. They see a guy talking to Ronnie and John tells her it’s Big Al, the bookie. After practice, Jeffrey tells Liz everything that’s been going on, and she’s appalled that he’s agreed to guarantee the point spread. Then she tells him there’s a scout coming to the game specifically to see Jeffrey. Poor Jeffrey is more confused than ever.

When Liz gets to the soccer stadium for the game she sees Ronnie and some creepy guy drive off. She gets back in her car and follows them through a crappy section of town to a warehouse. The bad guy – Ronnie is calling him Max – drags Ronnie inside and Liz watches through a window as he threatens Ronnie with a noose. Really? Couldn’t afford a gun? Liz runs to a payphone to call 911, but Max comes up behind her and puts a hand over her mouth. Meanwhile, on the soccer field, just before the game, Jeffrey gets a note from Big Al telling him that if he ever wants to see Ronnie again, he’ll make sure to not play his best.

In the warehouse, Max ties Liz up and does an Evil Villain speech about what he might do to Ronnie and Jeffrey if the game doesn’t go Al’s way. He hasn’t tied Ronnie up yet, so Ronnie sneaks up behind him and hits him over the head with a beer bottle, knocking him out. Liz and Ronnie drive back into town and stop at a pay phone to call the police, then go on to the soccer game. Liz makes the coach call a time out and she tells Jeffrey everything is okay. Big Al is being led away in handcuffs as she speaks. With a whoop of joy, Jeffrey goes back out to win the Big Game.


“Well, I’m more concerned about you,” Jeffrey said, running his hands through her hair. “I feel so bad about getting you mixed up in this.”

Jeffrey, you should know by now that Liz does not need an invitation to get mixed up in other people’s business. And besides, if it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t be mixed up in it, either.

The Cover: Check out Jessica’s earring. It’s so totally hip.

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  • Abi May 29, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    This was totally the one that I was talking about before!!!


    Shannon Reply:

    I knew it was! I meant to dedicate this post to you, but I totally forgot. Sorry.


  • tracy london May 29, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    I am really so sure that high school soccer is a damn lucrative bet. Probably better than the Lakers or the Dodgers or any other PROFESSIONAL sports team in California. Haha, stupid sweet valley.


  • Peyton June 1, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Okay, I’m not a sports fan or a gambler so maybe I’m way off base here, but could Jeffrey actually guarantee a particular point spread? I can see playing badly to ensure that the team loses (though I would imagine that would require the involvement of more than one player) but how can he make sure they win by exactly two points?


    Anonymous Reply:

    They used like half the team in Nancy Drew Case files #8 Two Points to Murder in order to make sure they got a certain outcome.


  • Kate June 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    We know they’re gangsters because they’re Italian! And, for some reason, the author thinks that Italian is the main sort of gangster in Southern California… as opposed to, say, New York or Chicago.


  • Sandy July 31, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Francine was just trying to hit all the issues, addictions, suicide, gambling…..


  • brunhilda April 13, 2010 at 3:03 am

    the best part about this is that you cannot call a timeout in soccer. sorry ghostie, it doesn’t make sense…


    Shannon Reply:

    Ha, research fail.


  • Anonymous March 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    It looks like he’s wearing. Eye make up or idk he just looks feminine to me.


  • me :-) March 24, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I have always admired jessicas hair but it looks espesially beautiful and thick on this cover she’s very prettiful,


  • butterfly March 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    And jessicas jelous of elizabeth ? In my opinion I think it should be the other way round 🙂


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