De La Salle soccer edges Fraser
Pilots advance to district final with 2-1 win
By Jon Malavolti
C & G Staff Writer
Warren De La Salle's Avery Eckert controls the ball in front of the Fraser goal. The Pilots topped Fraser High 2-1 in a district semifinal game.
CLINTON TOWNSHIP – Warren De La Salle advanced to a Division 1 district soccer final after topping Fraser High 2-1 Oct. 17 at Chippewa Valley.
The Pilots got a pair of goals by senior Austin Willenbrock to push past the Ramblers in a semifinal match. De La Salle plays Utica Ford II in the 5 p.m. Friday final at Chippewa. The Falcons topped Stevenson 1-0 in the second semifinal.
Following a tense, scoreless first half, the Pilots got on the board with a penalty kick goal by Willenbrock less than a minute out of halftime.
Fraser quickly responded, as senior Thomas Mok scored from about 25 yards out less than five minutes later.
Willenbrock put the Pilots back up 2-1 with a little more than 16 minutes left to play as he scored following a great pass by junior Avery Eckert, who picked up the assist.
De La Salle, which improved to 11-1-10, looked to be in some hot water midway through the second half before its second goal. Fraser had stolen the momentum after its tying goal, and then De La Salle had a player sent off with a red card and another player leave the game with an injury — all within about a 10-minute span.
But the Pilots quickly regained their composure and control over the game.
“That’s the way games go,” De La Salle coach Reid Friedrichs said. “That’s why you practice. Even though we lost a man, our game plan was still the same. I was really proud of the boys to pull the game back in, because it really could have spiraled out of control there. They were working hard, playing as a team. It was a team effort.
“They won the game, and I’m so proud of them.”
Fraser, meanwhile, falls out of the state tournament at 14-3-3.
“The boys worked hard. I just thought maybe we were a little too nervous,” Ramblers coach Thaier Mukhtar said. “You’ve got to give credit to your opponent. Austin Willenbrock has a knack for finishing.”
In his first year at Fraser after leaving De La Salle, where he won five state titles, Mukhtar promptly led the Ramblers to an impressive season, winning the Macomb Area Conference White Division title in the process.
“I think we’ve set the framework for a very successful program,” the coach said.