Cousino boys soccer changing perception of program

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published October 5, 2018

 Warren Cousino senior Arnes Besic dribbles the ball up the field during an Oct. 3 win over Sterling Heights High. The Patriots’ next game is against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at home.

Warren Cousino senior Arnes Besic dribbles the ball up the field during an Oct. 3 win over Sterling Heights High. The Patriots’ next game is against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at home.

Photo by Brian Sevald

WARREN — “When you think of Cousino High School, your mind doesn’t necessarily think of the soccer program.”

Those are the sentiments of Patriots boys soccer coach Kelsie Brown.

Over the last two seasons, the program has gone about changing that.

With its 5-1 victory against Sterling Heights High Oct. 3, Cousino clinched a second straight Macomb Area Conference Blue Division title. At press time, the Patriots were 13-1-2 overall and 9-0-1 in the division.

“Last year, these kids set a goal very early on in conditioning to make a name for themselves and this program,” Brown said.

“Their determination led to a … (2017) MAC Blue championship. This year, their goal was to not only have another successful season, but to truly show other competitors throughout the MAC that they are striving to be known as something other than another ‘underdog’ program.”

Cousino’s current two-year run could be seen as a surprise if you look at past standings. Since the start of the 2017 season, the team has won 26 matches. Over the five prior seasons, the Patriots won 26 matches. Before this run, the program’s last division title came in 2010.

“The program had to adjust to change a few years ago, with a new coaching staff,” Brown said. “And in this instance, the change was well-received. I’ve seen more drive, confidence and overall better work ethic from the boys than in past years.”

This year’s team has been strong in all phases of the game. Cousino has outscored opponents 66-10, including 51-5 in MAC Blue contests. The team has recorded eight shutout wins and held five other opponents to one goal. The Patriots have scored at least five goals six times.

“Last year, we lost in the first round of districts in a shootout. After that game, this team was determined to focus on its area of weakness: putting the ball in the back of the net,” Brown said.

The coach added that the team has emphasized taking advantage of every scoring opportunity.

“You never know how many chances you’re going to have in a game. That one breakaway or shot that was missed could have been the difference between a game ending in a win or losing in a shootout,” she said.

Brown said the success is the result of a total team effort, but she acknowledged a group of senior captains who have led the way. That group comprises Amer Karic, Arnes Besic and Joel Koshko.

Senior Yousif Askar, along with underclassmen Anthony Waller and Aymen Khoshaba, have stepped into starting positions and have been effective, Brown added.  

Karic said continuity is a big reason for the team’s success. Most of the Patriots players have played together for more than four years, he said, which gives the team an advantage.

Besic said the change in leadership is a catalyst for the turnaround.

“We established a new culture and worked more as a team outside of practice,” Besic said. “The attitude of the team was just different. We’ve become a family.”

“My hope would be that winning back-to-back division titles would give the Cousino boys soccer program some level of credibility,” Brown said. “The talent and skill throughout this program is incredible. These boys, this team, deserves to be recognized for that.”

Cousino’s next game is against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at home. For scores, visit candgnews.com/sports.