De La Salle soccer coach looks back at run to regionals

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Warren Weekly | Published October 25, 2019

 Warren De La Salle’s Gabriel Lueck, left, fights for the ball Oct. 22 against Troy Athens. The Pilots won the program’s 29th district title before falling in the regional round of the Division 1 playoffs.

Warren De La Salle’s Gabriel Lueck, left, fights for the ball Oct. 22 against Troy Athens. The Pilots won the program’s 29th district title before falling in the regional round of the Division 1 playoffs.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Advertisement

WARREN — Longtime Warren De La Salle soccer coach Thaier Mukhtar understands that a team’s record is its record, but he believes his squad played better than the standings show.

“We played a lot (of) tough competition and did what we had to do during the season,” Mukhtar said. “We lost the Catholic (High School League Central Division title) by only half a game. I’m proud of my boys. They played hard.”

The Pilots finished the season with a 12-8-4 record, but the team had its moments.

De La Salle downed Warren Cousino 2-0 to win a Division 1 district title Oct. 18. The triumph gave the Pilots a second straight district championship. The program has won 14 district titles since the start of the 2000 season and has 29 in program history. Mukhtar has guided the team for 28 of those.

The Pilots’ season came to a close Oct. 22 in a regional semifinal. De La Salle fell to Troy Athens 4-0. The Red Hawks put three goals on the board in the first half.

Mukhtar, head of a program that has won five state titles, said that winning the district title is an accomplishment, but he and the team were looking for more.

“Our goals are higher than that. I know it sounds arrogant and cocky, but when you win 28 out (of) 31 (districts), you have to have higher standards than that,” the coach said.

De La Salle loses 10 players to graduation, including Thomas Turner, who scored the first goal in the Oct. 18 district final win.

The team has 14 players eligible to return, including junior Spencer LeBeau, who also scored in the district championship win.

Despite the roster turnover, Mukhtar doesn’t see expectations changing.

“I think our goal stays the same. We (want to) challenge for the state championship every year,” Mukhtar said. “That’s our goal. That’s De La Salle soccer. That’s what we do.”

Sports Writer Mark Vest contributed to this report.

Advertisement