On Saturday, I was able to join the crowd at one of Indianapolis’ urban soccer fields to see my little friends Alex and Jensen, ages 7 and 5, scramble between the goals.

Before the game began, Jensen ran over for a water break on the sidelines where I was sitting. I hugged him tight and said, “Jensen, I’m so excited to watch you play soccer.”

He kind of nodded as he slugged back some water. “We’re probably going to lose,” he said, matter of factly.

“Well, you might,” I said. “But you might win. And you’ll have fun trying either way.”

“Yeah, we might win,” he said to be agreeable. “But we’ll probably lose. We already played this team before, and we lost.” He was convinced.

The boys’ mom, my friend Kelly, had kept me apprised of the team’s progress. They didn’t have a particularly good record. And the other team had some larger, more athletic players. But still, the little guy could hope, couldn’t he?

The first half of the game ended with the score tied, 0-0. As goalie, Alex had stopped a couple of shots from the other team that would have ended in points. Jensen had bent it like Beckham, attacking the ball and stealing it from opponents, even if they were twice his size.

After half-time, however, the game kind of went down-hill. The boys were still digging deep and playing hard. Alex blocked kick after kick, taking a few painful hits to keep the ball out of the net. But a couple got away. When the game ended, the other team was ahead 3-0.

While the coaches gave their end-of-the-game pep talks, the parents and spectators made a tunnel with raised hands. Then, both teams ran through as a way to leave the field in celebration.

Jensen was philosophical about the loss. “I knew we were going to lose,” he said. Still disappointed.

But Alex was heartbroken.

Despite the fact that he had blocked at least 10 goals by the other team, never mind that he had improved from previous games, and not to mention that in less than 24 hours, he would be in Disney World: a trip he had been looking forward to for months.

When I drove away, he was sitting on the ground next to their vehicle, legs crossed, hands holding his drooping head.

In that moment, the loss of the game was real and painful.