The Sarah Strong soccer players will still take the field for their game this week in honor of their friend and coach, Sarah Duval, who died Monday.

They will remember Sarah, 11, as hilarious, kind, outgoing, brave, courageous and "sometimes bossy when it came to sports," said her best friends Keaghan Murphy, Leah Kiblhan and Sadie Loucks Tuesday night.

They want to honor their friend and teammate who stuck with them even through the hardship of her B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia treatments. She died Monday of a blood infection.

Since her diagnosis in May, Andover has rallied around the 11-year-old.

Her death shocked the community because Sarah had been doing well, said Abby Murnane, a family friend, and Sarah's hockey referee. 

Now neighbors are leaving out hockey sticks, soccer balls and lighting candles in her memory. Displays can be posted to the Facebook page called "Lights for Sarah Strong."

"She always used to have heart and passion on the ice, digging for pucks in the corner," Murnane said. Sarah's passion continued off the ice learning about the game and caring for her teammates, Murnane said.

After learning of Sarah's death Monday night the Andover Women's Hockey team, which Murnane is part of, wore their #SarahStrong headbands in her memory and are planning a memorial game, Murnane said. Murnane will be collecting notes to give to Sarah's family. They can be written at

'Just strong'

Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, Sarah continued rooting for her teammates, friends and siblings, said Beth Murphy, Sarah's soccer coach and best friend's mother.

“Nothing held her back, even when she, unfortunately, lost her hair. She was just strong," Murphy said.

This season as her teammates on the Sarah Strong indoor soccer team played, while she she helped coach, she “yelled at them to get their butts moving,” Murphy said.

Sarah also loved animals and was fond of Lifting Spirits Miniature Therapy Horses in Andover. She enjoyed the horses as well as the farm's newest animal, Oscar the pig, said owner Toni Hadad.

Sarah had most recently been helping at the farm on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service where a group gathered to do volunteer work, Hadad said.

The sixth-grader from Doherty Middle School made an impact on many of the people who came into her life.

"It is with tremendous sadness that I share with you that Sarah Duval, 6th grader at our school, passed away this morning," Principal Robin Wilson wrote in an email to students' families. "Sarah was a joy and the news of her loss is profoundly heartbreaking for all of us."

In honor of Sarah Duval's love of school and reading, credited to her first-grade reading teacher at Bancroft Elementary School, her family is starting a memorial scholarship. 

"Sarah loved (Mrs. Faulkner) and said she was who inspired her to become a reading teacher so she could help other kids just like herself," the family wrote on their GoFundMe page. 

Sarah's memorial scholarship can be found at

Trending Video

This Week's Circulars

Recommended for you