Pitt’s sophomore midfielders Valentin Noel and Veljko Petkovic along with Josh Luchini, a North Allegheny High School alum who is a junior forward at Lehigh University, were named to the 2020-21 men’s Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List Thursday afternoon, as announced by the Missouri Athletic Club.
The MAC hosts an annual banquet to present the Hermann Trophy to the top male and top female player in college soccer. In recent years, the format has expanded to include the top three finalists.
The process of selecting a winner begins at the start of the college soccer season when a list of potential nominees is compiled by a nominating committee. Near the end of the collegiate regular season, 15 players whom the committee considers the best in Division I soccer are announced as semifinalists for the award. That list is then voted on through an online voting process by men’s and women’s Division I soccer coaches whose teams are current NSCAA College Services members.
Luchini, a native of Wexford, has scored 17 goals and tallied six assists for 40 points in 40 appearances through his first pair of seasons. Luchini has led the Patriot League in game-winning goals in each of the last two years, registering nine.
“It’s a great honor for any college player to be on the Hermann Trophy watch list and I’m pleased that Josh is being recognized as a top player in Division I men’s soccer,” Lehigh’s head coach Dean Koski said.
“The recognition is well deserved and I know Josh will be humbled by the honor.”
Ironically, the last time Luchini played a Division I soccer match was in Pittsburgh, in the NCAA tournament, when the Panthers topped Lehigh, 2-0 at Ambrose Urbanic Field in November 2019.
The Mac Hermann watch list recognition is the first for any player at Pitt in program history. The Panthers head into the spring 7-1 overall and 4-0 in conference play, coming off a fall season where they won the ACC North Division Title and were named No. 1 in the United Soccer Coaches Poll Oct. 20, a position they held for five weeks. Pitt entered the ACC Championship Tournament as the No. 1 seed out of the North, led by attacking players Noel and Petkovic, who helped drive the team to Pitt’s first ever ACC Championship final Nov. 22 against Clemson.
Noel, a native of Niort, France, finished the 2020 fall campaign as one of the best goal scorers in the country, leading the Panther offense in goals, points, shots and shots on goal. Noel finished first in the country in goals per game (1.14) and tied for first in total goals (8). He also ended the fall in the top-five in multiple categories, including game-winning goals (T-2nd – 2), points per game (2nd – 2.57), shot accuracy (2nd – 7.00), shots on goal per game (2nd – 2.00) and total points (2nd – 18).
Noel broke a school record for consecutive games played with a goal Nov. 15 against Duke, totaling four games straight registering a score. That record is still currently active, as he has scored a goal in six straight games, the last being Nov. 22 against Clemson in the ACC Championship Final.
Petkovic, from Nis, Serbia, finished the fall second on the team in goals (5) and shots on goal (11) and tied for third in assists (3). His total goals and total points were tied for fourth in the nation, while his .38 assists per game finished tied for eighth. Petkovic had two multi-score games this season, with the latest coming in the ACC Championship Semifinal against Notre Dame Nov. 18.
Full Mac Hermann Trophy Watch List
Austin DaSilva JR F Albany
Taylor Davila JR M California
Yanis Leerman JR D Central Florida
Yoni Sorokin SR M Central Florida
Justin Malou SR D Clemson
Kimarni Smith SR F Clemson
Tor Saunders SR GK Coastal Carolina
Jacob Montes SR M Georgetown
Giannis Nikopolidi JR GK Georgetown
George Proctor SR D Georgia State
Jacob Graiber SR D Illinois-Chicago
Spencer Glass SR D Indiana
Thomas Judge SR D James Madison
Josh Luchini JR F Lehigh
Chase Vosvick SR GK Loyola Maryland
Gerardo Lopez SR D Loyola Maramount
Jamil Roberts SR M Marshall
Milo Yosef SO F Marshall
Jackson Ragen SR D Michigan
Giuseppe Barone SR M Michigan State
Josh Dolling SR F Missouri State
Kyle Hiebert SR D Missouri State
Matt Nocita JR D Navy
Liam Butts SO F Penn State
Valentin Noel SO M Pittsburgh
Veljko Petkovic SO M Pittsburgh
Edvin Akselsen SO M Rhode Island
Sebastian Schacht JR M Saint Mary’s
Gabriel Costa JR M SMU
Papa Ndoye SO F SMU
Tani Oluwaseyi JR M St. John’s
Ousseni Bouda SO F Stanford
Andrew Thomas JR GK Stanford
Colin Shutler SR GK Virginia
Kristo Strickler SR M Virginia Tech
Pitt begins spring competition Feb. 13 at home against Georgetown in an exhibition match at 3 p.m. The regular season kicks off the next weekend, Feb. 20, vs. Akron at home at 3 p.m.
After not competing during the Fall, due to COVID-19, Lehigh’s schedule for Spring 2021 has not been released yet. The Patriot league is expected to play a round-robin format with two divisions (minimum of six games) beginning Feb. 27.