Call it telepathy or a sixth sense. Whenever Tannen Wels and Matt Basin are on the soccer field together, they can read each other's mind.
"We just look at each other and know," Basin said.
Since fate intervened and brought them together as 8-year-olds, they've been best friends and inseparable teammates.
"They're more like brothers," said Basin's mother, Patsy. "We love Tannen. It's like he's a member of the family. I can't ask for a better influence on Matt."
Wels is the top passer and Basin the leading scorer for Santa Margarita's 16-0 soccer team, ranked No. 1 by The Times. Wels has 20 assists and seven goals; Basin has 13 goals and 12 assists.
Nothing seems to faze them and nothing can tear them apart. Their friendship, forged on the athletic field, makes them a powerful force.
They first met trying out for a club soccer team 10 years ago. They were among more than 100 players. Both made the team.
After a game, Wels decided to invite Basin to his house because he liked his humor.
"We connected," Wels said. "It was weird. We enjoyed the same things, going to the beach, skateboarding, movies, sports."
They have spent summers staying at each other's homes. They have played soccer on the same club team every year, except at age 12. And while they never planned to go to the same high school, each enrolled at Santa Margarita four years ago.
They see each other every day at nutrition break, at lunch, in their business class and at soccer practice. If Wels' father can't locate his son on his cell phone, he'll call Basin and ask, "Is Tannen there?"
Their friendship has produced big rewards on and off the field.
Wels is a midfielder whose kicking accuracy has made him one of the most formidable players on a team ranked No. 1 in the nation by Student Sports. If there's a corner kick or free kick, Wels is the trigger man.
"He's the guy who makes it all happen," Santa Margarita Coach Curt Bauer said. "He can put the ball where he wants."
Basin is a forward whose job is to score. He's known as a prolific finisher, with Wels the one usually supplying the assist.
"I just look for [Wels] to give me the ball and I attack," Basin said.
Soccer is what they play year-round, but it didn't start out that way for Basin. When his parents signed him up as a 5-year-old, Basin refused to leave the car for the first practice.
"I'm pulling him and pulling him and he's crying, 'No, no, no,' " Patsy said. "Literally, his hands were gripped around the handle of the door."
His mother had to trick him to attend the practice by telling him he'd get a jersey whether he played or not. When he showed up, his new teammates surrounded him and convinced him to play.
Off the field, the friendship between Basin and Wels has served almost as a crutch to support them during difficult times.
When Basin suffered a partial ligament tear in his right knee last year that forced him to the sideline for two months, Wels was there to encourage him and boost his confidence. When Wels was feeling down because of marital trouble involving his parents, Basin was there to offer support.
"If I need help in school or soccer and it's something I can talk about, I know him so well that no matter what I say it's not going to hurt him," Wels said.
Added Basin: "He always keeps me out of trouble when I'm about to do something wrong."
There's no guarantee they'll end up playing for the same college team next season, but their friendship isn't going to end.
"It's something special," Basin said. "No matter what it is, you always know he'll be there."