Emotions were running high on Saturday afternoon as the South Eugene women’s soccer team paid tribute to teammate Lyla Lauderbach, who died in a single-vehicle crash on South Willamette Street on Tuesday.
A memorial was held ahead of a South West Conference game against North Medford and players from both teams took a knee in solidarity before kick-off. There was also a minute of silence before the game.
After those tearful scenes, the Axis had the unenviable task of continuing a game of football. However, there was no end to the storybook, with North Medford scoring a goal in each half to win 2-0.
Isabella Driskell struck in a loose ball in the 13th minute when Payton Miller’s shot was deflected by the goalkeeper, and Olivia Boger scored the second for the Black Tornado with a long-range shot that deflected off the bar transverse in the 66th minute.
The pre-match scenes were dim and dark, but a large crowd turned out to support South Eugene as the team dealt with the loss of a teammate. The Lauderbach family helped write a tribute to Lyla which was read before the game.
“When people think of Lyla, the words that come to mind are funny, brave, tough, caring, smart, beautiful and so much more,” it reads. “She was an excellent student and always ready to help her friends with their homework and homework. She loved playing soccer and always said her teammates were the most important part of the game to her.
“She was someone everyone wanted to be with. She was beautiful inside and out. She will be truly missed by so many people.”
Lauderback died in a single-vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon in South Willamette near Fox Hollow Road, according to Lane County Sgt. Thomas Sperich. There was no evidence of alcohol or drug use in the accident, he added.
The report of an accident came in shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday. Medics arrived and found the deceased driver inside a red Volvo SUV. Lauderbach was the only person in the car, according to police. An investigation found the vehicle was heading south on South Willamette Street when it veered off the road for unknown reasons and crashed into a railing and then a tree, Speldrich said.
Tuesday’s home game against Summit was canceled and the players met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the way forward.
“The team got together… after school on Wednesday to share memories of Lyla and talk about the positive effect she has had on our lives,” South Eugene coach James Bilderbeck said. “We’re going to try and figure out the best way to honor Lyla this season. One way we’ll remember her is to have a ‘Lyla Lauderbach’ Player Outstanding Award, presented to a player every year at perpetuity.
Lauderbach was the senior co-captain of the South Eugene football team, a defenseman who earned all-conference honors last season. Never shy about speaking her mind, the senior was loved and respected by players and coaches.
“She had an assurance about her and was always ready to give her opinion, especially when it came to football,” Bilderbeck said. “Lyla’s tenacity in defense and her precise passing ability in possession made her an excellent football player. She could read the game well and would express to the coaches what she thought our team needed to adjust to achieve. ‘to improve.
The South Eugene coach will remember Lauderbach as a positive spirit, a natural leader and a unifying force for a team aspiring to the state playoffs.
“Lyla was an outgoing, positive person whose humor could put a smile on anyone’s face,” he said. “She had a way of bringing the team together by making people laugh. She noticed players who were shy or felt like outsiders and looked for subtle ways to make them feel part of the group without drawing attention to it.
In a shaky voice, the last part of Saturday’s pre-match tribute was played over the stadium loudspeakers, a message from the family to a teenager gone too soon.
“Lyla, your family loves you and is so honored to have been a part of your life. You are the first thing we think of when we wake up and our last thought before we go to bed. We will never forget anything you and you are not alone.
“Rest in peace ‘Lyla Lyla Crocodile.'”
Follow Zack Palmer on Twitter@zpalmer_11 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.