James Krause | Northern Star
As time winded down in the first half, Anthony Markanich got open in space and found a familiar sight downfield. His brother Nick Markanich was deep into enemy territory and had a chance to score.
Anthony wound his leg up and passed the ball where he knew only Nick could find it. As the ball connected with Nick, his eyes lit up. He dribbled around the defender and booted the ball into the net to put NIU up 3-0 against Green Bay. The tandem is used to these scenarios.
For senior forward Nick and senior defenseman Anthony Markanich, life has always been about two things: soccer and each other.
Playing since the age of five, the Markanich brothers have always been together both on and off the field.
The same followed through high school as they both were part of the Bradley-Bourbonnais High School Soccer Club where they took third place in the 2017 state championships.
Nick finished his senior season with 52 goals and nine assists. Anthony totaled 40 goals and 14 assists.
The college decision was vital to the brothers as they knew that family was more important to them than splitting up for soccer.
“We always knew we were going to stick together going to college,” Nick said. “NIU was a good choice because we are close to home, so our family can come to every game.”
When Nick and Anthony arrived at NIU, the two wasted no time contributing to the team. Nick was named MAC Freshman of the Year in 2018, and Anthony was named to the All-MAC Second Team.
For all of their accolades and glory, both brothers still remember their first dynamic moment that led to a score for the Huskies.
“Our freshman year, we had our first little combination to go up against Green Bay,” Nick said . “It was the second goal of my college career, and it was good passing between us to find that open space.”
As the years progressed, the goals and assists became more routine. The Markanich twins were named to the All-MAC first team in 2019.
Nick finished the year ranked fourth in goals with eight, and Anthony finished seventh in assists with five.
In the spring 2021 season, both Nick and Anthony earned All-MAC first-team honors again, with Nick also taking home MAC Player Of The Year.
Nick finished that season with nine goals, the most in the MAC. Anthony recorded three goals and three assists for the Huskies.
“Coach (Ryan Swan) trusts me to make runs up and down the field, and he knows that I will get back to defend,” Anthony said. “I think helping to attack helps a lot with the team, and I try to get as many assists as I can.”
As the Markanich brothers look to finish up their senior season, Swan can only think of how important they are to the team. Nick leads the nation in scoring with thirteen goals, and the Huskies’ offense leads the nation in team scoring.
“I think when you watch them on the field and in training, you see their personality and their competitive attitudes towards the game,” Swan said. “It’s massive for us.”
Swan is also reminded about how good the brothers’ natural skills are.
“Having someone like Nick, who’s been on fire this year and scoring practically every game, it makes a considerable difference,” Swan said. “Your opponent has always got to find a way to score against you when you know you’re getting on the board. Anthony has also been contributing with good goals and assists this year.”
Although they are laser-focused on the importance of the game, the brothers know it’s also about having fun.
“With this team, it’s a lot of fun on the field,” Anthony said. “All the guys are always having fun when we are playing the game we love.”
As their college careers start to wind down, both Nick and Anthony Markanich say they have loved every minute of their time here and can’t wait to play professionally.