Fraser soccer’s ‘brotherhood’ translating to success

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published September 20, 2023

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 Fraser junior William Minor carries the ball against Grosse Pointe North on Sept. 11 at Grosse Pointe North High School.

Fraser junior William Minor carries the ball against Grosse Pointe North on Sept. 11 at Grosse Pointe North High School.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


FRASER — When head coach Michael Agostini took over the job in 2020, not only was Fraser soccer at its lowest of lows coming off a 3-13-3 season, but the roster was heavy with freshmen and sophomores.

Fraser’s first season was rough to say the least, but the team progressed to become Macomb Area Conference Blue champions in 2021 and district champions in 2022. Now, in 2023, the group he came in with is all grown up and making its mark in the MAC.

“We started together, and we only had a handful of seniors, so the team was made up of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, and heavy on the sophomore and freshman side,” Agostini said. “Now, we’ve kind of grown into where you reflect on the last couple years and think, ‘Hey, we got something out of that and learned something.’ I think it’s translating into this year.”

Sporting an 8-2 record this year and in the thick of the very early battle for the MAC Blue league title, Fraser’s cohesiveness has paid dividends this season, earning wins over MAC Red teams such as Macomb Dakota and Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, and the Oakland Activities Association Red’s Rochester.

The offensive attack has shined, even with Fraser graduating a slew of offensive firepower. Senior Jacob Stone, an all-state honoree in 2022, broke the Fraser career goal total (previously 41) this season as he continues to play as advertised. Seniors Darryl Jackson and Brendan Smigielski’s move to midfield from the backline has been instrumental to the offensive attack alongside junior Brian Lawrence at the midfield spot.

“I think between Brian Lawrence in the midfield now and Darrel Jackson in the midfield, and Brendan (Smigielski), these guys have really contributed to being on our front foot, being more attacking and getting to a quicker start in games,” Agostini said. “Jacob (Stone) has just been phenomenal at finishing chances and creating stuff out of nothing.”

Stone, Jackson and Lawrence all played a pivotal role in the revival of Fraser soccer in 2021, and their chemistry has carried over into the offensive end.

But like the offense, the defensive unit has a few players of its own that have been staples of Fraser soccer the past few years.

Seniors Amar Selmic and junior Gjon Prekaj return to lead the backline alongside seniors Nolan Sheppard, Evan Grove and goalkeeper Noah Manor.

Manor split time in net last year with senior Carter McMahon, who will miss this season due to a torn ACL, but he has stepped into the full-time starting role and has flourished.

Everything is clicking right now for Fraser on both sides of the field, and Stone said it all goes back to the team’s chemistry.

“There’s just like a better brotherhood and connection now,” Stone said. “We’re just unbeatable at that point.”

But the 2023 Fraser team doesn’t take all the credit for where the culture is at now, for they’ve had strong examples to follow in the past.

Agostini’s primary focus coming into his first year was formulating a culture for his guys to follow, and he credits the 2019 and 2020 class for getting the ball rolling in that department.

A few spectacular senior classes later, and the 2024 senior Ramblers are setting their own standard.

“I think the boys before kind of paved us a good road, and we stepped in well,” Selmic said. “I think the passion is there and the motivation and grind to make our team better every single day is making us better.”

Fraser soccer is building a foundation, and even getting some state recognition on the rankings, earning the No. 6 spot in Division 1 according to the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association.

There’s still improvement to be made, but Fraser is one step closer to another district title and then some, which they won for the first time in eight years last season.

“Some people are questioning why we are (ranked), but we’ve known for the past four years that we should be up there,” McMahon said. “Eventually, they’re going to recognize us.”

Fraser is also playing with heavy hearts this season in dedication to Connor McMahon, Carter’s older brother.

Connor McMahon, 23, died on June 13 after being struck on Interstate 94 while changing a tire on the shoulder.

A 2017 Fraser graduate and Roseville resident, McMahon was a social studies teacher at Fraser. It was a devastating loss to the Fraser and Roseville communities.

Agostini said the team is playing in memory of McMahon this year.

“We really dedicated this season and started this season saying, ‘We’re playing for Connor,’” Agostini said. “We’re laying it out there and playing for him because this kid impacted so many lives at our high school at such a young age. We felt like we needed to do this and do it for him because of the drive he had. He would come in and make pep rallies fun and make kids excited about learning. He drove a new kind of feeling of excitement here. The sky was the limit for this kid.”