Playing for Nathan: How a teammate’s death pushed them to go for gold

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. -- At every practice, the Under 14 NC Fusion boys soccer team says a prayer.

"God, I pray that you just give us the strength and that you help us remember what we're doing it for. We're doing it for him, God."

In November 2014, their teammate, 13-year-old Nathan Clark, died in a hotel room in Raleigh. He was spending the night there during a soccer tournament and apparently the man staying next door accidentally fired his gun, going through the wall and hitting Nathan in the head as he slept.

Teammate Aidan Seach was in bed right next to him.

"It was awful," he said. "Just so unexpected."

After Nathan's passing, the team committed itself to playing for Nathan, and winning for Nathan. And they've done just that.

The clear underdog in the match, the Fusion beat the odds and won the state championship.

"We want to win for him," Seach said. "Because he doesn't have the chance to play anymore."

"After he passed away, I made a promise to him," said teammate Cameron Andreski. "I'm like, 'We'll win for you, Nathan.' I promised I would."

Coach Wade Forte said the team's desire to play for Nathan is evident in everything that they do.

"They have been so tunnel-visioned on playing for Nathan," he said. "The days that training isn't going well or there's a bit of adversity -- they always look at each other and say, 'Hey, we're playing for Nathan. We're playing for something other than ourselves.'"

The Fusion will now head to Arkansas to play for the national title. Their motivation will be the same.

"We play for Nathan every time," said Andreski. "We'll never forget him."