MAC honors NIU soccer players

Soccer+ball+flies+through+the+net+in+the+goal.

Getty Images

Soccer ball flies through the net in the goal.

James Krause, Sports Editor

DeKALB — NIU men’s soccer players Nick Markanich and Harry Jolley earned the two biggest Mid-American Conference individual player honors for the 2021 season.

Junior forward Nick Markanich was named the MAC Player of the Year. He is the first Huskie to win the title since 1997. Markanich had a conference-high nine goals during the season and placed eighth nationally.

Head coach Ryan Swan said he’s enjoyed seeing Markanich improve every year since Markanich arrived at DeKalb.

“Nick has grown every year that he has been here,” Swan said in a Thursday news release from NIU Athletics. “We see him getting better all the time. He steps up in big games and we saw him step into more of a leadership role this year. I’m delighted for him, to get Freshman of the Year a couple [of] years ago and now get Player of the Year as a junior, hopefully, he can push on from this and I fully expect him to keep building.”

Nick was named to the First-Team All-MAC alongside brother and teammate, junior forward Anthony Markanich. Anthony scored three goals this season and finished with nine points. It’s Nick’s second-straight season making First-Team and Anthony’s third-straight.

First-year center back Harry Jolley from Liverpool, England was awarded MAC Freshman of the Year honors. Jolley was named a team captain and started in all 13 matches for the Huskies. He tallied  1,112 minutes of play and assisted in the March 17 win against Western Michigan University.

“Center backs don’t always get recognized as much, but I think Harry and Adrian Lara were outstanding for us this year,” Swan said in an NIU Athletics news release Thursday. You noticed it on the field, but for us, we saw it in training and the players saw it. Harry truly came in and made a difference with his communication and work ethic. It is fantastic for Harry and the program to get this recognition.”

The Huskies finished the season out of the playoffs with a 5-8-1 record, but things could be looking up next season with a trio of rising stars.