Lake Norman High’s Carson Fielding will play in the East-West All-Star Game July 17 in Greensboro, and the game for the state’s top soccer players from the 2018 class will be her final in the competitive realm.

A defender, she will then move on to attend N.C. State, where she plans to stay involved in the sport by playing club and intramural soccer.

“It’s something I don’t want to give up and want to keep in my life,” Fielding said.

Soccer has always been woven into the fabric of Fielding’s life since the age of 4. She’s excelled regardless of the club or school jersey she’s worn, and last November, she helped the Lake Norman Soccer Club’s Eclipse Elite team win the State Cup. She enjoys the intricacies of the sport.

But over the last few months, soccer has proven to be much more than a game for Fielding. It’s been a much-needed avenue for support and strength after real-life heartbreak intervened midway through her senior year.

Her mother, Rhylee, died of cancer in December, and as the high school soccer season arrived in the spring, Lake Norman High coach Matt Bice knew something had to be done for Carson and her sister, Ellie, a freshman on the varsity team.

“Obviously it is a tough situation for anyone to go through, and even tougher for a kid,” said Bice, whose mother died of cancer five years ago. “I wanted to do something that they would remember forever.”

He ordered pink jerseys that featured the interlocking “LN” Lake Norman logo on the chest, the Fielding name emblazoned across the back and Rhylee’s initials on a soccer ball on the sleeve. The team would wear them periodically, including on Carson’s senior night and every game of the state playoffs.

“I was at a loss for words,” Fielding said of first seeing the jerseys. “Everyone wanted to do it. Everyone wanted to do something. It was comforting. It was really cool to have that support.”

It didn’t take long for Bice and Fielding to notice that the Wildcats, who went 18-6-1 and reached the 4A state quarterfinals with playoff wins over Butler, Reagan and Providence, seemed to play better in pink. Fielding is convinced that her mother, always their biggest fan, had something to do with that.

“When we occasionally chose to wear those shirts in warm-ups or a game, you could sense that game would be different,” Bice said. “It was almost like it became a bit more serious, and everyone on the team knew that a little more was expected out of them on that night. I do believe that is part of the reason we were able to make a deep run this season.”

Fresh off what Fielding calls a special season – “We were all so close, and I got to play with my sister,” she said – she is excited to test her skills against some of the best players in the state as a member of the West All-Stars. She expects it will be a fun farewell to the high school game.

And then, it will be time to begin working toward a college degree and career. Inspired by her mother, who also attended N.C. State, she plans to study oncology.

“I just have more of a passion for trying to get rid of cancer,” she said.

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