by Cliff Mehrtens

CORNELIUS – Michael Basnett’s goal-scoring feats breathed life into a Hough High soccer team that badly needed it.

The Huskies, reigning I-MECK 4A conference champions, were struggling with a 1-5-1 record early in the season. Basnett then scored four goals in a 4-2 victory against North Mecklenburg and three goals in a win against West Charlotte.

Hough rallied to win the conference championship. Basnett continued scoring throughout the season earning Herald Weekly’s Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors

Basnett finished with 24 goals and 10 assists. He was the I-MECK 4A conference player of the year, the Region 10 player of the year and an all-state pick.

“I just try to do something different and make sure I put the ball in the net,” Basnett said. “Our teamwork and everyone playing together got us going.”

Basnett scored goals in 14 different games, including at least one against every conference opponent. He helped the Huskies advance to the third round of the N.C. 4A playoffs.

“Michael was obviously the difference-maker for us this year,” Hough coach David Smith said. “With us losing (18 players) we had a lot of holes to fill. Then we got off to a 1-5-1 start while we were still figuring our way. Michael’s goals (against North Mecklenburg and West Charlotte) gave him confidence and also our team started to believe in themselves.

“To me one of his best games was against Mooresville. He scored three goals – one with his head, one on a breakaway and then one on a free kick. He still can get better as a player and he will be the first to tell you that. I think that is another quality that makes him so good; he wants to get better.”

Basnett, who also plays club soccer, began his soccer career as a defender. Then he moved to midfield, before a shift to forward. He seems made for the position.

“I prefer front and scoring goals,” Basnett said, laughing. “It’s a little more exciting for sure.”

Basnett said the highlight of his season was scoring on a header, on a throw-in by teammate Brad Waite to beat Lake Norman 5-4, which clinched the conference championship.

Herald Weekly 2012 BOYS SOCCER Coach of the Year

Justin Valenti directed the only lake-area soccer team that reached the state final. His Lake Norman Charter squad, despite losing in the N.C. 1A championship match, had a splendid season. He is the Herald Weekly’s Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.

The Knights were 19-4-1, outscored opponents 72-21, won the Southern Piedmont 1A/2A conference title and beat four playoff opponents. In three of the playoff matches, Lake Norman Charter rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win. They’ve made the playoffs four straight seasons.

Valenti’s team included all-state defender Taylor Easley, all-state forward Lawson Owen and all-region picks Evan Lucas (midfielder) and Christian Hall (goalkeeper).