Powered by the support of his family and teammates, forward Petar Janjic has made a name for himself.
High-Flying Petar Janjic Makes His Mark In First Year With Men’s Soccer
Powered by the support of his family and teammates, men’s soccer forward Petar Janjic has made a name for himself in his first season competing at the college level.
Despite coming into games off the bench for most of the season, Janjic is among the team’s top goal scorers with a total of five in just his first-year. As the regular season winds down, he has tallied 12 shots and eight shots on goal in 644 minutes played so far.
As the season has gone on, Janjic has been inserted into the starting lineup in crucial games. He said coming into his first season he wanted to play whatever role he could and help the team however he could.
“There’s no guarantees, especially at this level,” he said. “So the goal always was when I communicate with my coaches, it was always to play whatever role I could, whether it was off the bench or you know, whatever position it may be, always to come in and make an impact as best I can.”
Hailing from Elmhurst, Illinois in the suburbs of Chicago, Janjic said he ultimately decided to stay close to home when deciding on a college.
Janjic said he first started playing soccer when he was 10 or 11 years old when he joined a recreational league. He said he immediately fell in love with the goal-scoring aspect of the game.
“That’s just what got me in love with the game, just to keep on scoring to keep developing as a forward player,” he said. “Or even when I have to play in the back at times, the defending that’s you know, that’s part of the game as well.”
Head coach Steve Bode said during the process of recruiting Janjic, the Ramblers coaching staff quickly identified his leadership ability. He added that Janjic has only continued to develop as the season has gone on.
“With his obvious ability and talent, ability to create and score goals in the attack up his work rate, we felt good about his skill set coming in as a freshman,” Bode said. “But again, you never really know how ready they’re gonna be when they come in and I think, in Petar’s case, he just had all the all the traits to be ready to compete right away.”
Janjic said he gives credit to all of his family for their support throughout his childhood and
career. He said he always gives credit to his mom for being there for him, his grandma who helped raise him, and especially his dad, who he has the tightest connection with.
“You know, he’s one of the key figures in my life, my role model, the one I want to make proud the most,” Janjic said.
Janjic’s parents are a common fixture in the stands at Loyola Soccer Park cheering Petar on. His dad even makes the trip to all of the away games. Janjic said he has been to Philadelphia, Dayton and everywhere in between.
Before coming to Loyola, Janjic played club soccer around the city. He said one of the most difficult parts of his transition to the collegiate game has been competing with larger and stronger players.
“I feel like you know other guys are just way more physical,” he said. “You know, they’re bigger guys, they’re grown men, some of them. So you always constantly have to be on your best and focused.”
Janjic is one of the standouts in a very talented group of first-years the team boasts this season. Bode said that Janjic “has a maturity beyond his years” and has emerged as one of the leaders of the younger players on the roster.
Janjic said he knew some of his fellow first-years from the club scene and he has gotten to know the others better as the season has gone on.
“We all push each other when it’s on the field, they’re out in the field in school, in the classroom, always studying together, getting food,” he said. “It’s been good getting to know them all for sure. And becoming brothers on and off the field — that’s been a blessing for sure.”
He also said it took time to adjust to the raised stakes and increased responsibilities which come with Division I soccer.
“Just playing faster, playing more physical and really having to take accountability,” he said. “You know, you make a mistake here and they’ll get on you. I mean, it’s a challenge for sure but that’s how you develop as a player at the end of the day.”
One thing observers may notice about Janjic is his colorful and animated celebrations after scoring a goal. Throughout the season Janjic has leaped through the air and gotten the crowd involved, often hyping up his teammates, according to fellow first-year forward Ethan Young.
“It always makes my day seeing him score and then his celebrations especially whether he’s running up to his parents,” Young said. “I think my favorite one this year had to have been the DePaul game just ‘cause the situation and just how he went crazy after the score. It’s just always great to see him like that.”
Off the field, Janjic is studying finance and said in his free time he likes to spend time with his friends and his girlfriend.
“We’ll go get food, we’ll study, and I’ve gotten down to the city a few times to go shopping,” he said. “Luckily I get to go home, like after games Sunday I’ll go home and spend some time at home with my family.”
Bode said it has been a major benefit for the staff this season to have someone like Janjic who can reliably come off the bench and make a major impact.
“I think the thing about Petar, too, is that he’s ready to go whenever it is both starting and coming in off the bench,” Bode said. “He’s ready to go on and make an impact which is huge, and I think for his teammates they also have come to expect a lot out of him.”
Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix