FRASER — After going undefeated in MAC White play for the last two seasons, Fraser’s boys soccer team will be playing in the MAC Red this season.
Fraser coach Thaier Mukhtar said that he petitioned to have his club moved to the Red, but his team’s goals remain the same.
“Our goal is to be the best. We’ve gotten the program that way in two years. It’s no longer a goal to be average. They want to win every game. The odds of them winning every game is not great, especially playing in the MAC Red, but that’s how we feel and how we believe,” Mukhtar said.
Mukhtar said his team is ready for the new challenge, and he’s not expecting the new competition to take his team lightly.
“There are tough teams in the Red, but there are tough teams in the White, too. We’re looking forward to it,” Mukhtar said. “We’re not taking a back seat to any of those teams. We’re going to battle, and they’re not going to take us lightly, either.”
Fraser capped off an unbeaten regular season in 2013 by defeating Warren De La Salle in district play to qualify for regionals. Three All-State players who received soccer scholarships graduated from last year, but Mukhtar believes his team is ready to take another step forward.
“We’ve got a group of kids that’s like a family. I really think that one of the things is that they don’t want to let each other down, and so they’re really willing to work hard and go that extra mile,” Mukhtar said.
In regard to miles, each season, Mukhtar has his team run a two-mile conditioning test to gauge his players’ fitness levels. At the start of camp this year, Mukhtar saw the highest percentage of players in recent years accomplish that standard.
“It comes with the promise that if they come in shape, we’ll work out with a soccer ball. Last year in the morning practices, we didn’t touch a soccer ball. We just ran. This year in the mornings, at least they are touching a soccer ball,” Mukhtar said.
Mukhtar pointed to the leadership of this year’s seniors for getting the the Ramblers ready for practice.
Those senior leaders are Justin Piccolo; midfielder Justin Gray; Matt Lentine, who also kicks for the football team; and goalkeeper Alec Sharpe, who was named All-State honorable mention in his first year as a starter.
Brendan Solomon, Ben Kirck and Dylan Donnelly will also be key contributors.
Piccolo said that the group’s familiarity with each other should help Fraser start strong.
“We’ve played with each other so much, we know what each other is going to do,” Piccolo said. “Chemistry is a strong point for sure.”
After last year’s district title, Piccolo said that he and his teammates are eager for more hardware.
“We don’t want to just win a district, not a regional. We want to win states.”
Fraser starts its regular season on Aug. 25 against Romeo at home, and for the first time ever, it will host the Fraser Showcase on Sept. 6.
The showcase will feature six teams: Fraser, Utica Eisenhower, Troy Athens, Dearborn Crestwood, Novi and Grosse Pointe North.
The all-day event will be a modified round-robin tournament, and players will have the chance to earn all-tournament honors.