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Pitt midfielder Veljko Petkovic named Player of the Year

The Serbian playmaker was honored by Top Drawer Soccer after accruing nine goals and eight assists this past season

Matt Hawley

The Pitt men’s soccer team recently concluded its winningest season to date with a College Cup appearance, and that was made possible, in part, by Pitt midfielder Veljko Petkovic. The Serbian playmaker was arguably Pitt’s most well-rounded player, and on Tuesday, he was named the Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season by Top Drawer Soccer.

During the past season, the former New York City FC youth team standout amassed nine goals and eight assists for 26 points. Each of those totals ranked second on the team. But Petkovic also set himself apart at the national level, as he ranked eighth in the nation in goals, seventh in assists and fifth in points.

Petkovic was also a key contributor during Pitt’s deep tournament run, as he scored three goals and came up with two assists in four games. That included a few highlight-reel plays, such as a record-setting goal 23 seconds into Pitt’s matchup with UCF and another goal against Washington from 64 yards out.

However, despite a strong performance this season, Petkovic was overlooked for national honors, even as teammates Valentin Noel and Jasper Löeffelsend were recognized as All-Americans. And although he earned All-ACC and all-region honors, he made the second teams rather than the first teams. He was also denied a spot on the NCAA’s all-tournament team, albeit as one standout in a crowd.

Given Petkovic’s top-10 national rankings in three offensive categories, the national recognition can be viewed as overdue. In addition, the honor may just be one of many to come, as the star midfielder was a sophomore this past season and has two more years to continue on his upward trajectory.

Petkovic is also one of seven regular starters expected to return to Pitt next season, and with Hermann Trophy finalist Valentin Noel among that group as well, the Panthers should be well positioned to extend their successful run in 2021. And as the reigning Player of the Year, Petkovic should once again play a central role on what should be a dominant team.