Young Lee County soccer player honored at last game of the year

SANFORD, N.C. (WTVD) -- The girls' soccer team at East Lee Middle School in Sanford played its final game of the year Wednesday, and teammates dedicated the game to Quaneisha Richmond, a seventh grader who died last week.

Teammate Jennifer Reyes said it was hard to take the field Wednesday without her friend and classmate at her side.

"I am going to be sad (because) this is the last game we play and she did not play it," said Reyes. "She was always confident. She tried her best at every game. She always wanted to score goals."

Last Thursday, the 12-year-old Richmond collapsed during a soccer match and later died at the hospital.

Before Wednesday's match, players, classmates and friends gathered on the soccer field at East Lee Middle School to remember Richmond.

Friends called her "Neisha." They say she loved everyone and was always helping other students.

"She always encouraged her classmates to be the best they could be," said Reyes.

With balloons, they released Neisha's spirit, and with hugs and kisses, they showed her family just how much she was loved. Her teammates took to the field without one of the best players, but they played their hearts out for Neisha.

"It's going to be hard emotionally," said Ayli Jimenez, "but you know we got to do this and stay strong for Neishia."

And it was hard. East Lee played a good game, but lost 3 to 1. In the end though it was not so much about a final score as it was the team's effort.

"She would never give up," said Jimenez. "If she fell, she always gets right back up, trying to score goals."

As part of the ceremony, the school retired Neisha's soccer jersey, which was number 1. The students said she will always be number one in their hearts.

Quianeisha's funeral is Saturday at noon at Works for Christ Christian Center in Sanford.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family deal with expenses.

Click here to donate.

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