As of Wednesday night, it was unclear whether Lauren Lenardi would be able to attend Kings Park's girls soccer game Thursday. Lenardi, 15, was diagnosed with Stage IV alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS), a rare form of cancer, 10 months ago and has been undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments ever since.
"Honestly, I didn't think we were going to make it," said her mother, Sharon Lenardi. "Lauren was in a lot of pain last night. We had to think about whether it would be smart to make the decision to come into Kings Park or stay in the hospital, maybe have that monitored. The doctors were on board to make sure that she got some good time in with her family and her friends. As she woke up and the morning went on, I could see it in her eyes; there was no way she was going to miss today."
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A member of the junior varsity team last year and an honorary member of the varsity team this year, Lauren was not going to miss the opportunity to see her team play in a game dedicated to her as she battles cancer.
"It really meant a lot to me because I haven't been on the field in a really long time," Lauren said. "To see that they all support me was really awesome. I've had soccer my whole life and it's something that can take my mind off cancer and everything I've been going through."
Along with a crowd of more than 100 who wore yellow T-shirts with "Lauren Strong" emblazoned across the chest, Lauren watched as Marjorie Duffel's hat trick and Amanda Scherb's three assists led Kings Park past Islip, 5-0, in Suffolk League V girls soccer.
Kings Park got on the board in the first minute when Scherb sent a through pass to Duffel, who scored on a shot from inside the 18-yard box.
Duffel scored two more goals in the first half to give Kings Park (8-1-1) a 3-0 lead at the break. Jennifer Buonocore scored off a feed from Scherb in the first minute of the second half and Luciana Timpone scored in the 71st minute for the Kingsmen.
Duffel said Thursday's win was "that much more important and fulfilling because we're playing for [Lauren]. It shows we can come out and put all of our energy in for one person."