From the first time he stepped onto the field for the East Mecklenburg High School varsity boys’ soccer team, Charles Basse believed he could make an impact.
After becoming one of only five freshmen to ever make the Eagles’ varsity roster, Basse broke into the starting lineup in his debut in 2012 and scored two goals in a 4-3 season-opening win against Olympic.
“I’ve always been a pretty good player and a goal scorer on my rec and club teams growing up,” said Basse, who started playing soccer at age 4, encouraged by his father, Lucien. He started playing club soccer at 9.
“But that first varsity game gave me a lot of confidence. Of course with that also came a lot of expectations, and I think everyone expected a lot after that first game.”
Basse, 14 at the time, went on to tally 12 goals and two assists in his first high school season, helping the Eagles to an 8-11 record (5-9 Southwestern 4A).
Basse, now a 16-year-old junior, has a chance to rewrite the East Meck soccer record books. His 36 goals in two seasons give him a shot at breaking former Eagles and University of North Carolina standout Sean McGinty’s school-record 84 goals.
Basse also is shooting for McGinty’s school record of 34 goals in a season (1999).
East Meck soccer coach Joel Edde said he and former Eagles soccer coach N.C. Soccer Hall of Famer Larry Bosc, who still helps the program, were equally impressed by Basse from the start.
“I remember the first day we saw him in practice, and we were all like, ‘Wow, this kid is special,’ ” said Edde, who played soccer at Myers Park (class of 1996) for former coach Frank Ponce and walked onto the UNC Wilmington soccer team for one season. “Even Larry said, ‘This is the kind of kid we need at East.’ He was so fast it looked like he was walking around defenders, and then he could finish, too, bending balls around keepers.”
Bosc, who led the East Meck boys’ soccer team to 327 wins in 20 seasons (611 wins overall in his career) and has coached several all-state players, also recalls seeing Basse’s potential early.
“I remember seeing Charles score a goal from about 40 yards out against Myers Park his freshman year,” Bosc said. “To be able to strike the ball like that, at that age, was very impressive.”
Success has never gone to Basse’s head. He worked even harder that offseason with his former club team, the Palmetto United Futbol Club, getting bigger, stronger and faster.
As a sophomore at East Meck last year, Basse was even better, scoring 24 goals and helping East Meck to a 9-12-1 record. Basse earned first-team All-SW4A honors in the process.
Basse also was named a team captain as a sophomore by Edde, a distinction rarely given to underclassmen.
Always looking to get better, Basse said he wasn’t overly impressed with his performance last season.
“I look around and there are always players doing better, like my friend, Tresor (Mbuyu) from Garinger, for example,” Basse said. Mbuyu had 35 goals and 21 assists last season and was named SW4A and Observer Player of the Year.
“I got off to bad start last season and I was good in patches and bad in patches,” said Basse. “I feel like I could have been a lot better. I didn’t score in nine games last year.
“I feel like I have the potential to score 35-40 goals this season.”
Edde also believes Basse has a chance to challenge for SW4A Player of the Year, all-region and even all-state honors in the process.
This summer, Basse was selected to train in Italy for two weeks with the professional team A.C. Chievo Verona.
“I learned a different level of soccer there, and a lot of things I need to work on,” said Basse, who said Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is his favorite soccer player. “I got to see what I’m going to up against if I want to take my game to the next level.”
Basse will be busy this fall as he plays for East Meck and his Region III Charlotte United club team, which includes standouts like Peyton Smith, son of former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith.
Basse’s goal this year is to help East Meck get back to the playoffs, which the Eagles have come close to doing in his first two seasons.
East Meck (1-0) got off to a good start, beating Mallard Creek 2-1, but the Eagles will face a tough nonconference schedule and have to compete with teams including Garinger, Myers Park and Butler in their conference.
If East Meck is going to contend in the SW4A, the Eagles also will need contributions from players including seniors midfielder Richard Ceu, forward/midfielder Tung Ksor and defender Hiro Teah, and junior Felipe Cubides.
“We really want to be playing November soccer this year, that is our goal,” said Edde. “We would love to challenge for a conference title and even more, but our main goal is to be playing in November in the playoffs.”
Basse also is focused on playing soccer as long as he can.
“It’s exciting to have a chance to play college soccer,” said Basse, who is in the early stages of the recruiting process. “My goal is to play at the Division I level.
“Hopefully, I’ll also get a chance to play professionally one day, but I have a lot of work to do for any of that to happen.”