A 13-year-old boy in Southern California collapsed and died during a soccer game on Saturday morning, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday.
Hacienda Heights resident Felipe Andres De La Cruz, a right back for the Strikers FC North club, collapsed on the pitch during a game against SDA Slammers, a fellow club side competing in the Players Cup Tournament. The teen raised his hand to signal to coaches that he was feeling tired during the second half and was substituted off.
Then, according to the report, De La Cruz collapsed on the bench approximately 30 seconds later. He was never revived and the game was stopped as De La Cruz was transported to a local hospital, with his entire team in tow. A cause of death has not been determined.
His family urged the team to continue competing in the tournament after their son had passed — “He would have wanted the team to move on,” Felipe De La Cruz Sr. told the Register — and the team returned to action Sunday.
When Strikers FC North first took the field, they did so with 10 players instead of the traditional 11 to honor their fallen teammate.
“As a coach, you worry that things like this (may) happen, but you never expect it to happen,” Strikers FC North coach Ron Esparza told the Register. “It’s special as a coach that he showed such dedication and he worked so hard to be the best player he could be and he was a great example for other kids on the team.”