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Fraser, Utica, Shelby Township

August 26, 2013

Lang leads Fraser past Utica Eisenhower

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Fraser High's Matt Lang (10) scored the Ramblers' lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Utica Eisenhower Aug. 23. Pictured, Lang gets ahead of Ike's Luke Pryg while Fraser's Brendan Solomon (2) looks on.

Matt Lang said his personal goal for his senior season is to break Fraser’s single-season goal record, and he got off to a quick start in accomplishing that on Friday night.

With just more than four minutes gone in the season opener, Lang received a pass from Matt Lentine just inside the box and buried his shot in the top left corner of the goal. That goal proved to be enough for Fraser, as it held on to win 1-0 against Eisenhower, last year’s MAC Red champions and a team Lang had never beaten in his career at Fraser.

"In my three years that we’ve played them, this is the first time we’ve beaten them, so I really wanted this game,” Lang said. “It means a lot, especially beating a MAC Red team that hasn’t lost in forever.”

Both teams exchanged good opportunities at scoring later in the first half, as Olaf Szemraj was stopped at point-blank range by Fraser goalie Alec Sharpe with 18 minutes left to play in the half. Lang had another chance for a Fraser goal late in the half, but he narrowly missed high and wide.

Eisenhower controlled tempo for the majority of the second half, but it was unable to capitalize when it had opportunities to equalize. The Eagles' closest chance came on a corner kick that Grant Harrison headed just high with six minutes left in the contest.

"At times, it seemed like we were dominating the game, we could’ve had one or two goals and it would’ve been a different ball game,” Eisenhower coach Josh VanHouten said. “We seemed to get the ball out of the defense into the midfield and then when we got to the final third, no one wanted to shoot. They wanted to make that pretty pass or take an additional touch and no one could just fire it in there.”

Fraser’s defense was able to take advantage of Eisenhower’s inability to pull the trigger quickly. Fraser coach Thaier Mukhtar, who is in his second year with the team, credited his back line for effectively stopping Eisenhower’s attack.

“I thought my back three played very well. My sophomore, Dylan Donnelly, at sweeper, seemed to clear every ball out of the area before they became dangerous. Nathan East and David Driest on the back line, I thought they were extremely solid in neutralizing them,” Mukhtar said. “Last year, I thought we were exploited pretty good in the back, 5-0 by this team, so we had something to prove coming out today.

Mukhtar said that he was feeling some extra pressure on the sidelines as his team maintained a lead against a team they haven’t beaten in several years.

“We talked about how we can’t remember the last time Fraser beat Eisenhower,” Mukhtar said. “It just seemed like the longest second half of my life. It felt like it was never coming to an end.”

Lang still has a long way to go to eclipse Fraser’s record of 28 goals in a season, but he said that the familiarity shared between him and Lentine will be critical to the Fraser’s success this year.

“Lentine and I are always on the same page. That’s how we’re going to win the championship. You got to be on the same page. Everyone has to be working together and that’s what we did tonight,” Lang said.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.