October Athlete of the Month: Basehore and Feldman lift East boys soccer
Feldman led the Cougars in net and Basehore was the team’s top scorer as Cherry Hill East finished with a .500 or better record for the first time in six years.
Editor’s Note: Each month from September through June, The Cherry Hill Sun features one or two athletes from Cherry Hill High School East or Cherry Hill High School West as its Athletes of the Month.
This season, Cherry Hill High School East boys soccer did something it hadn’t done in six years.
The Cougars more than doubled their win total from 2017, finishing the season with a 7–7–3 record for the program’s first season with a .500 or better record since 2012. At the center of Cherry Hill East’s improvement were senior captains Mark Basehore and Nick Feldman, two players who battled during the program’s struggles in season’s past and were essential pieces to the 2018 team’s success.
Basehore and Feldman have been teammates for a long time. The two began playing together on the same travel team with Cherry Hill FC in second grade and developed a bond over the past decade.
“I think we push each other in practice,” Basehore said. “We’re never really competing for spots, our positions never matched up.”
The two entered the 2018 season with plenty of experience on the varsity team. Basehore joined the varsity roster as a sophomore and despite missing some time due to injury, made an impression on head coach Mike Melograna due to his work ethic on the field. Feldman took over the starting goalkeeper job for the Cougars as a junior in 2017, making more than 100 saves his first year.
Basehore and Feldman believe the foundation for the 2018 team’s success came from the summer. Cherry Hill East co-hosted a summer league with Shawnee High School and also played two summer tournaments.
“The summer was enormous for us and will continue to be enormous for us,” Melograna said. “To host the summer league and host the Coaches’ Tournament and have success, I don’t know how much more we can do.”
Basehore and Feldman were charged with building a family-first atmosphere within the program, something both players felt they were successful in doing.
“It’s really all about getting people to buy in, going 11 strong is one of the most important games,” Basehore said. “It’s all about creating that competitive nature.”
“The emphasis as a whole on the family mentality really helps,” Feldman added. “We trust each other, we have faith in each other.”
One of the biggest improvements for Cherry Hill East was on defense. The team allowed just 18 goals the entire year, second-best in the Olympic Conference American Division. Feldman didn’t take all of the credit, giving much of it to the defenders in front of him. Some of the key defenders for the Cougars included Jacob Lee, Andrew Bui, Remus Creanga, Alex Newcomb and Jake D’Alessandro.
“We tried to instill an ideology of communication is key. Getting the players to talk to each other, call out who is marking who, man on, stuff like that,” Feldman said.
In the net, Feldman credited his work with The Keeper Institute in Sewell for his improvement in the finer points of goalkeeping, especially the mental and tactical side.
For Basehore, he emerged as Cherry Hill East’s top offensive threat as the season went on. The Cougars lost one of their top offensive players, Eddie Grant, to an injury in September, forcing Cherry Hill East to change its offensive focus.
“I pretty much went around to every attacking player and said we each need to step up, because that’s a hole everyone needs to fill,” Basehore said. “Eddie was the center of the offense. Everyone had to be more active to make up for that.”
Basehore went on to score more goals than his previous two seasons combined, leading the Cougars with eight goals and also tallying two assists.
Basehore and Feldman’s finest moment may have came in their final game with Cherry Hill East on Oct. 22 against Highland Regional High School. With the team needing a win to finish with a .500 record, Basehore scored all three of the Cougars’ goals and Feldman earned a seven-save shutout in Cherry Hill East’s 3–0 victory.
“That was probably one of the best feelings of my life because that is most likely one of my last soccer games,” Basehore said of the hat trick. “I’m going to remember it for years to come.”
Melograna said there was a little frustration at the end of the season as the Cougars fell just short of making the South Jersey Group IV playoffs, but felt the final game against Highland and finishing with a .500 record made up for that disappointment.
“This was much more impressive because of the opponent,” Melograna said of the final game. “(Highland)’s a good team, they’re a good Group III team.”
The Cougars had a number of other achievements this season. Cherry Hill East went undefeated against Cherokee High School and Shawnee High School for the first time since 2009 this year. The Cougars also won three straight games for the first time since 2012.
“All of those things are pieces to this,” Melograna said. “It’s got to continue to grow.”
Melograna expects Basehore and Feldman to continue as a part of the program after graduation. Basehore is planning on majoring in architectural engineering and is considering a number of schools, including University of Texas-Austin, Penn State, University of Miami and Purdue University.
Feldman will attend Rosemont University next year as a history secondary education major and said he wants to come back to Cherry Hill East after college.
“I want to come back and be a teacher and coach here, because I really like the school and community,” Feldman said.