The color blue painted the student section at Lowe Stadium Tuesday night in remembrance of Glendale junior Grayson Lambert following his death Sept. 15. Glendale loses to Joplin in an emotional Ozark Conference battle 4-2.
Each of the Glendale players will wear Lambert’s number in honor of him for a different game during the season. It’s a way the team can feel that Grayson will always be out on field and with the Falcons.
“Grayson was a great kid and a great example of a student-athlete. He was one of the top kids in his class academically and citizenship wise. Very respectful of coaches, great teammate and worked hard every day in practice to not only become a better player, but to push those around him,” Coach Jeff Rogers said. “It is a process for the team to accept what happened, but we just need to be there and support each other through this. Typically we would have a run out introducing each player, but tonight we wanted to make this about Grayson. Talking with Joplin’s coach they know tragedy, so it’s pretty fitting to have them here supporting us here this night.”
CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS OF THE GAME
Before the game the players, coaches, officials and fans stood for a moment of silence in honor of Grayson, and the rest of the Lambert family that was lost. A numbing stillness filled the air as Falcon soccer players locked arms and bowed their heads in memory of their teammate and friend.
“He was a great person to know. He wasn’t one of those people you would just say ‘hi’ to in hall; you would stop and have a conversation with him every time you saw him. Just a really good guy,” Nic Bauer said. “This past week has been tough; it’s also been good to see how it brings everyone together. It’s going to be a great year once we get passed this.”
The Eagles came into the game 6-0, having outscored their opponents 41-0. The Falcons though had plans to change Joplin’s momentum, playing with the drive and determination to challenge their conference opponent in Tuesday’s match.
Joplin took the lead midway through the first half on Luis Santillan’s corner kick goal. Ten minutes into the second half another Joplin goal was awarded off a throw in by Senior Forward Ryan Estus.
Nic Bauer answered just two minutes later, scoring the first goal for Glendale and of the season against Joplin’s defense. One minute of regulation passed, when Izzy Chappel assisted Yamil Ocampo with the finish near the box, tying the game at two with 20 minutes left in the second half.
The Eagles’ defense was then too much for the Falcons offensive drive, leaving Joplin’s Joe Rice with a goal six minutes left in the half. Not even a minute of play later, Estus scored again for the final margin of 4-2.
Regardless of their loss to Joplin, Glendale managed to score against the Eagles, something that hasn’t yet been done this season, despite the heavy hearts. The Glendale community will continue to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Grayson Lambert. Tuesday night’s game is simply a footnote in the grieving process of losing a loved one, however it displayed the courage and strength of what it truly means to be a team.
Joplin next faces Springfield Central at Cooper Thursday Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m. Glendale plays at Waynesville Thursday Sept. 20 at 5 p.m.