'Ian's a leader:' Late Wake Forest High senior honored by soccer teammates

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Ian Lewis, the Wake Forest High senior who passed away last weekend after drowning at Emerald Isle, was honored by his NCFC soccer teammates Saturday afternoon.

Prior to the Condor's match on Saturday, the team carried Lewis' jersey out to the center of the pitch.

"They're playing like he would want honestly. And we're a family, and this is more than just a team kicking the ball around. This is why the same guys come back year after year after year because they want to be together. So they support each other," said coach Richie Staggs.

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Many tributes to Lewis feature pictures of him wearing his soccer jersey, and he even creatively "promposed" to his friend after scoring a goal.

"Ian's a leader. He's been my go-to guy since he was eight years old. So that's every year for nine years, spring and fall. And it's always the same. We're down, we need help--I just look at Ian and say 'Brother, it's time to turn it on.' And he's vocal. He had a little swagger which I appreciated and encouraged really. He's the one player year-in and year-out that I knew not was not just coming back, but would lead," Staggs said.

Lewis, a senior at Wake Forest High, was on Spring Break with three friends when he drowned at Emerald Isle after getting caught in a rip current on April 19. His body was recovered three days later.

One of those friends, Paige Merical, is at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, where her parents tell ABC11 that "she will not survive".

Friday night, her parents held a flag-raising ceremony to honor her life, after making the decision to donate her organs.

"You know you've done something right when your child has good friends and they truly, truly miss her and they're upset that they lost her. She meant a great deal to them. She was the ultimate alpha female," said John Merical, Paige's dad.

A GoFundMe has been started for Paige and her family.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help Ian's family.
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