Omar Solis was just 9 years old when South Iredell soccer coach David Basinger first heard about him.Basinger got regular reports from his former players - and Omar’s cousins - Carlos, Noel and Claudia Solis, who all had rave reviews and saw his potential early on.“Omar’s stories turned into almost a Paul Bunyan-type of thing, and I started thinking there is no way this is all true,” said Basinger, who is in his 11th year as the South Iredell boys’ soccer coach. “When he got here, he was a little bit raw, but you could tell he had a lot of talent. Since then, he has lived up to everything they said and more.”Solis had an immediate impact for the Vikings’ offense, scoring 30 goals as a freshman while earning all-Catawba Valley Athletic conference and all-region honors on a younger, overall team (11-10-1 overall). Basinger says he recalls realizing just how good Solis was when, in the playoff game against Shelby, he bent a free-kick over the Golden Lions’ wall for a score. “Honestly, I was even surprised by how fast I started,” Solis said. “When you come in as a freshman, you just want to make the varsity team if you can. I wanted to prove that I could play with the guys and that I was not going to be scared just because I was kind of a little guy .”The 5-foot-8, 145-pound forward didn’t have a sophomore slump as he pumped in 41 goals in his second season and then had 30 scores last year in his junior campaign, where he also earned all-state honors.All of this has come with his South Iredell team improving each season, from 11 wins his freshman year to 16-6-2 his sophomore season to 20-2-2 last year, including a perfect 14-0 CVAC record. They also made a run to the 2A state quarterfinals, before falling to rival Newton Conover, in a 2-1 overtime heartbreaker.While Solis, 18, prefers to focus on his team’s success, it’s hard to ignore his scoring prowess. With six more goals thru Sept. 2 his senior year, he has 107 for his career, just 19 short of the Iredell County record of 126, set by 1992 South Iredell graduate Jeff Cummings.Solis says he is honored to have a chance at the county mark, but it is a double-edged sword because it makes it harder to focus on playing soccer.“It’s pretty cool just to have a chance to break the record, because my goal is always to be the best at whatever I am doing,” Solis said. “But it’s hard not to think about the record, because this is a little county and everybody knows about it, so it is stuck in my head.”“I know it’s on his mind, and you can tell he is playing a little tighter so far,” Basinger said. “This is going to be his toughest year, because everyone knows who he is and what he has done. Every team is going to be going after him, and no one is going to give him anything.” If he gets the record, I will be even more impressed (with him) than I already am.”Solis says his approach hasn’t changed as he always has a goal in mind each game for himself that he doesn’t talk about. The South Iredell senior also says that he is never satisfied.“The way I look at it, is you are either getting better or getting worse,” Solis said. “So, if I let myself be satisfied with what I’ve done, I won’t be working to improve. I always want be getting better.”For Solis, that means doing his job for his South Iredell team, which Basinger says is to continue to score goals.While the burden of chasing records isn’t all fun and games, Solis says scoring never gets old“I love seeing the ball go in the back of the net,” said Solis, whose favorite shot is ripping one ‘upper 90.’ “Every time I score a goal, I get a new feeling.”Solis’ goals also include helping his team challenge for another conference title and more, as they move from the 2A CVAC to the 3A North Piedmont conference this season.With all 11 starters back, including seniors Edgar Solis (Omar’s cousin, center back), Aaron Chapman (goalkeeper), Jackson Hitchner (center back) and junior center midfielder, Zach Renton to lead the way, the Vikings are in good position to make another strong run.The team also is off to a strong start at 3-0-2 through games of Sept. 2.As Solis looks to have a senior season to remember, he also wants to secure his future in the sport, and he hopes to play in college.Solis has had interest from Catawba, where he went to camp this summer, as well at Mount Olive, but he hopes to expand that with his play for the Vikings and his Carolina Rapids U18 club team.“I want to keep playing soccer as long as I can,” Solis said. “I want to keep giving myself as many opportunities as I can. I know I will take advantage of them.”Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, Sep. 22, 2013
Solis has more goals in mind
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