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Pitt’s Valentin Noel and Veljko Petkovic join North Allegheny alum Josh Luchini on Mac Hermann Trophy watch list

Josh Luchini in action during the 2019 season. Photo Credit - Lehigh University Athletic Department

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.

Pitt beats Lehigh, 2-0, for first-ever NCAA tournament win

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.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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