Lynchburg, Va. -- When you see the nice-looking people in Lynchburg soccer hats and Roanoke soccer shirts Tuesday night in the middle of the Shellenberger Field grandstand, don't try to correct them.
The Pikunas family isn't confused; they're just conflicted.
After all, what are parents to do when their sons suit up on opposite sides of a rivalry?
Eldest Pikunas brother Ryan chose Lynchburg and is now a senior for the Hornets; second son Chris picked Roanoke a year later. And now the third boy, Patrick, is a freshman for head coach Chris Yeager's Hornets.
So the rest of the Chesterfield, Va.-based Pikunases, parents Pat and Kerryanne and youngest brother Quinn (and perhaps some extended family as well), will have to split their allegiances.
"I feel bad for my parents," Ryan, a senior outside back for Lynchburg, admitted. "If something good happens for us, or if something good happens for Roanoke, they can't cheer. They have to stay in the middle."
They have had plenty to cheer about over the years, though.
Ryan is a two-time All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference defender, earning second-team honors as a junior, and a team captain for the Hornets. Chris starts in the midfield for the Maroons and has notched three goals and an assist during his career. Patrick has already cracked into the Hornets rotation, appearing in two games as a midfielder.
But if it's possible to throw gasoline on the fire that is the Lynchburg-Roanoke men's soccer rivalry, the Pikunas family divide has done it.
"It is a big family event," he said. "If they can't show up, we know they'll be watching."
Patrick recalls Lynchburg's 1-0 victory over the Maroons last season, Sept. 23 in Salem.
"We sat right in the middle of the stands," the Hornets freshman recalled. "We didn't want to be too close to the Roanoke parents or the Lynchburg parents. It was funny."
They were all clad in both Hornet and Maroons gear. It must have been quite the sight, and a far cry from the backyard brawls where the four Pikunas brothers would face off as children.
"It's fun that he goes to Roanoke, because Roanoke's definitely one of our rivals," Ryan said, noting proudly that the Hornets haven't lost to the Maroons in the two years his brother has played for them.
But Lynchburg's edge on the field wasn't the only reason Patrick chose to join his oldest brother as a Hornet. The campus felt like home, and he enjoyed the way the Lynchburg coaching staff and head coach Chris Yeager treated the players' relatives.
"Before I was even being recruited, I knew Coach Yeager because he would talk to me and my family," Patrick said.
Though he liked Lynchburg, Patrick also wanted to be his own person and soccer player, so he shopped around at several other conference institutions.
"I felt like if all three of us were at three different ODAC schools, that would be cool," Patrick said, but none of them had the allure of Lynchburg.
"At the end of the day, Lynchburg wins games. That's what drew me to the program more than anything else."
And also the chance to play with his oldest brother. Patrick opted to play academy soccer his freshman year of high school and therefore never got to suit up with his oldest brother at perennial Richmond-area power Cosby High.
That all changed this year, and now, at least once this season, the Pikunas family will get to see its entire progeny on one pitch.
You'll know them when you see them.
They're the ones sitting in the middle.