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US women's soccer team honors Stoneman Douglas victim

March 09, 2018 - 5:57 pm

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- By everyone's account, Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old student and member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High girls soccer team, was bound for great things in life, on and off the field.

"Alyssa took every second of her life and did something with it," her mother, Lori Alhadeff, said. "She had the fire to fight. She had the spirit."

Alyssa Alhadeff was one of 17 students and teachers gunned down Feb. 14 at the Parkland, Florida, school. A former student was indicted this week on 34 counts in the massacre, including first-degree premeditated murder.

According to Lori Alhadeff, a soccer player herself, Alyssa Alhadeff started playing soccer at the age of 3 and by age 8, was playing competitively.

She said her daughter, who played center mid, was on track to play soccer in college and had dreamed of one day being on the U.S. women's national soccer team.

"She loved the sport. ... I always thought someday that she would be on the women's national soccer team," Lori Alhadeff said. "She aspired for that greatness. ... She was probably one of the smallest on the team but the fiestiest."

She said Alyssa Alhadeff was also a huge fan of Alex Morgan, a forward on the U.S. women's national soccer team. The two had even met six years ago, Lori Alhadeff said, and Morgan had signed not only Alyssa Alhadeff's book but also her cellphone.

Her father, Ilan Alhadeff, said that after her death, her friend Jamie Morris tweeted Morgan to let her know how much Alyssa Alhadeff had loved her and the women's soccer team. Morgan reached out to the friend, Ilan Alhadeff said, and invited the family and the school's team to a game.

On Wednesday, the Alhadeffs and the Stoneman Douglas girls soccer team traveled to Orlando to watch the U.S. women's national soccer team play against England. Before the game, a moment of silence was held for Alyssa Alhadeff and her picture was posted on the Jumbotron. Her teammates stood in the stands, holding posters bearing her pictures and messages of friendship.

The family and team were also each presented with a national team jersey, complete with Alyssa Alhadeff's name on it and her number: 8. After the game, members of the U.S. soccer team signed the jerseys for the girls.

Laurie Thomas, the girls' soccer team coach, said that after the shootings, the team had gotten together for days, focused on keeping the memory of their friend and team captain alive.

"She was the voice of our team," Thomas said of Alyssa Alhadeff. "She was a leader, not just by what she said, but also by the character. She lead the team on and off the field."

Lori Alhadeff said the school team as well as her sons had felt the love, compassion and strength from the U.S. women's team.

"It has literally taken my breath away," she said of the day and experience. "Alyssa would be ecstatic. She would've been just jumping for joy, crying and laughing."

Ilan Alhadeff said his daughter would have loved to share the moment with her family, friends and teammates.

"It would have been the best day ever," he said. "It's just amazing, the overwhelming support. ... Helping not just us, but our entire city heal."

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