Fraser High soccer turning the corner

By: Zachary Manning | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published May 25, 2021

 Fraser High’s Mari Jackson plays the ball against Sterling Heights Stevenson May 19. The Ramblers fell 3-2.

Fraser High’s Mari Jackson plays the ball against Sterling Heights Stevenson May 19. The Ramblers fell 3-2.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Fraser High’s Jenna D’Alimonte goes for a throw-in against Sterling Heights Stevenson May 19. At press time, the Ramblers were 5-9-3 overall.

Fraser High’s Jenna D’Alimonte goes for a throw-in against Sterling Heights Stevenson May 19. At press time, the Ramblers were 5-9-3 overall.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FRASER — Though the record may not indicate much success for the Fraser High girls soccer team, coach Paul Kepler says his group has played better than that mark may suggest.

At press time, the Ramblers were 5-9-3 overall and 5-7-3 in Macomb Area Conference White Division play. Throughout the season, however, there has been a vast improvement in the fight and competitiveness of the team.

Kepler has a young group that has steadily grown this season. Though there is work to be done, he believes his group is starting to play better soccer.

“Right now, we’re trending in the right direction. I think we’re starting to peak a little bit,” Kepler said. “We’ve been starting four freshmen and three sophomores almost the whole year, so they’re getting a lot of experience. They’re figuring out the high school game right now, so that’s been a difference early on until now. Now, everyone’s starting to get comfortable, everyone’s starting to settle in, and I think we’re starting to put together some pretty good soccer.”

Fraser finished fifth in the MAC White, but that doesn’t paint the full picture. Of the teams that are above them in the standings — Romeo High, Sterling Heights Stevenson, Macomb L’Anse Creuse North and Utica High — Romeo and Stevenson were the only two to defeat the Ramblers twice, with two one-goal losses against Stevenson.

As for its games against Utica and L’Anse Creuse North, both teams beat Fraser by two goals or more the first time around. The second time around, the Ramblers held their own and collected a pair of ties.

The quality of play has also gone up, with more goals being put on the board. Defensively, the Ramblers are still looking for the answer. Fraser has been shut out five times this season, but four of those came before May 4.

Over its last five games, Fraser has tallied 10 goals and earned a 1-2-2 record, including a five-goal outburst against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore on May 5.

It may not seem like much, but for a young team looking to find its footing, having the ability to compete with the likes of the top teams in the conference and around the area is a huge boost heading into postseason play.

“The future is bright for the group. Being so young, over the next couple of years, it’s going to be a very special team going forward. I think we have a lot of good pieces right now,” Kepler said. “We’d like to go out with a district championship for our seniors right now, send them on their way, especially not being able to play last year.”

Kepler knows districts will be tough, considering the amount of talent that is in the area. The Ramblers will open with Warren Mott, which resides in the MAC Blue Division.

The winner of that game will see the winner of Sterling Heights High and Stevenson. A matchup with Stevenson would give the Ramblers a chance to avenge a pair of one-goal losses.

On the other side of the bracket sits Troy Athens, Roseville High, St. Clair Shores Lakeview and Warren Cousino. Lakeview, Cousino and Roseville are all in lower divisions of the MAC, while Athens has lost just one game all season.

The Ramblers enter the postseason as an underdog. However, with the spotlight off of them, there isn’t much to lose — especially in a one-and-done tournament.

“I’m excited for them to be a part of the district tournament. We’ve been talking about that since day one, since tryouts,” Kepler said. “All everyone cares about, all everyone talks about is the districts. Can you be a district champion? Can you get to regionals and make some noise there?”