The soccer team almost missed out on the talents of a player whose high school coach called him “Mr. Clutch.” During his college search, Cedric Charlier ’17 looked at schools similar to Bowdoin, but had not considered becoming a Polar Bear until close friend and teammate Nabil Odulate ’16 invited him to visit the college last year. Charlier was not on Bowdoin’s radar yet either.
“I was already looking at five or six schools at that point,” Charlier said. “Bowdoin was the last school to pop up.”
However, a brief recruiting exercising thoroughly imprssed former Head Coach Fran O’Leary, and Charlier later decided to enroll at Bowdoin.
“The NESCAC is a very physical league and I knew he had the physical presence and the speed to contribute here,” Odulate said.
Charlier has settled in as one of the team’s go-to forwards, and logs most of his minutes when captain Zach Danssaert ’14 is not playing. Despite not starting a single game this season, Charlier has lived up to his high school billing, scoring three times, including back-to-back game-winning goals in the last two weeks.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Charlier said. “Two years ago, I never would’ve thought this would happen, scoring a goal in a college game.”
According to Head Coach Scott Wiercinski, he averages between 25 and 40 minutes a game.
While evidence suggests that Charlier converts in big moments, his propensity for game-winners is something he does not actively count among his list of skills. Instead, he insists that each goal can be explained by some combination of luck or effort on the part of a teammate.
Wiercinski acknowledges the coordination between Charlier and his teammates.
“He’s been afforded the opportunity to play with guys that complement him,” he said. “[In the Conn. College game], yeah, he jumped over a person, but the cross was perfect. He’s the right fit for the guys around him.”
At 6-feet-2-inches, Charlier’s skill set largely revolves around his superior athleticism and size.
“He’s younger than most guys but bigger,” Wiercinski said. “His athleticism and strength get him to balls first.”
“Basically, Coach tells me to go out there and run as hard as I can,” Charlier said.
Charlier’s physical gifts have lessened an otherwise difficult learning curve. Though Charlier was recruited by O’Leary, Wiercinski assured him that his roster spot was safe going into the year. However, Charlier had to adjust to a new style of play.
“It was a completely new system,” Charlier said. “I was the main forward in high school but there was another guy near me.”
Odulate also mentioned the complex role of the forward in Bowdoin’s system.
“There’s a lot of running involved,” he said. “Forwards are asked to help with the defense by pressuring the other team and keeping the ball up. It’s an active position.”
This is in addition to the typical learning curves of first-year players.
“The biggest thing is nerves,” Odulate said. “The first time going out there [first-years tend to be] pretty nervous until they remember this is something they’ve been playing their entire lives.”
Wiercinski says that many first years need to improve their fitness and ability on the ball, though both have been strengths for Charlier this year. Particularly, his size has allowed him to hold the ball after the opposing team attacks, giving time for his own defense to reset.
Charlier believes playing behind Danssaert has helped with his development; Wiercinski thinks that Charlier could grow to fill his role in time.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if three and a half years down the line he’s doing what’s Zach is doing,” he said. “Provided he invests time in his game as Zach has done. He’s a different player than Zach but he has the same potential to be effective.”
But Charlier is not looking that far ahead yet. The NESCAC tournament looms and the team has a potential NCAA tournament berth to play for.
“I just want the team to keep winning,” he said. “If I don’t score another goal, I’m fine with that."
The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.