Fraser striving toward goals while keeping opponents out
Published September 26, 2012
FRASER — The boys varsity soccer team at Fraser High has started another practice, and there’s not a coach in sight. Not that there needs to be.
The Ramblers are a well-oiled machine. Led by the captains and seniors, they stretch for a few minutes before breaking into smaller groups and begin working on drills.
The disciplined approach has been instilled by Thaier Mukhtar and his coaching staff. It’s led to the Ramblers racking up an impressive 9-1-1 overall and 7-0-0 Macomb Area Conference White Division record at press time.
“We’ve worked on the discipline for the team a lot,” Mukhtar said. “My coaching staff does a good job with them. But it doesn’t matter how good of a coach someone is. If they’re not buying into it, it doesn’t matter.
“They listen, they work hard — that’s all I can ask for as a coach.”
Mukhtar, who’s in his first season coaching the boys at Fraser, described the players as “sponges.”
“They want to learn as much as they can,” he said. “They’re having so much fun. It’s amazing working with them.”
The coach was also quick to compliment his assistants, Aaron Roy, Ed Lis, Rob Suffredini, Bill Miller and Paul Kepler.
“I give a lot of credit to our coaching staff,” Mukhtar said.
Senior defender Jake Kirck said that because of the coaching staff’s prep work, the team is “always ready and prepared.”
When the team found out that Mukhtar, who’s had great success leading the Fraser girls and as the longtime former coach at Warren De La Salle, would be coaching them, Kirck said they were “beyond excited.”
“We all know his record. … He’s just a great coach,” Kirck said.
Senior midfielder Greg Petty said the coaching was a big reason behind the team’s success.
“He pushes us. He gets everything out of us,” Petty said.
The next challenge for the Ramblers is to guard against complacency. Their goals include remaining undefeated in the division.
“We don’t want to lose,” Petty said. “We’re hungry to win.”
There’s plenty of work ahead for the Ramblers if they want to keep up their winning ways.
When asked what the squad could improve on, senior midfielder Thomas Mok simply said “everything.”
Mukhtar said the coaching staff will help keep the players focused.
“We’ve got to get better every day,” said the coach, who noted the squad is finally at full strength after battling some early season injuries and illnesses.
Senior midfielder Mark Trombley said the team is working hard day in and day out to avoid a slip-up.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Trombley. “I definitely think (our success) puts a target on our back, because then we’re the team to beat. Everybody’s going to play their hardest against us.”
One aspect the Ramblers won’t have to tweak much is their defense. At press time, they had only given up three goals in 11 games. In league play, Fraser had allowed just one goal, on a penalty kick.
“Our defense’s motto is simply: ‘We don’t give up goals. We don’t lose,’” Mukhtar
The coach praised the play of his goalkeeper, senior Brandon Hejza, who has seven shutouts on the season.
“He’s been playing really well,” Mukhtar said.
Hejza said the defense has been strong thanks to good communication throughout the unit.
If the Ramblers can keep it up, there’s no telling how far they’ll go.
“We definitely plan on winning our district and making it as far as we can in regionals,” Hejza said.
Fraser takes on MAC Red leaders Utica Eisenhower in a crossover clash at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 29 at Swinehart Field, the stadium located across from Utica High.