Sports Information Director
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After completing an impressive collegiate career in which he helped guide the Saints to a program-best 14 win season and a spot in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Championship, defender Niko Jelicic (Sucuraj, Croatia) has been named to the inaugural Tourbeau Sports Soccer Evolution Academy.
"It's a great honor to be recognized as one of the top players to make this inaugural team," Jelicic said. "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to showcase my talents with the best players in the NAIA as we compete against these profressional teams."
The three-time captain is one of 18 graduating seniors from the NAIA that have been selected to participate in the 12-day US-based tour set to take place from Mach 4-16. While on the tour, the team is scheduled to play seven friendly matches against US-based professional teams that are taking part in their pre-season schedules.
Jelicic capped off his Holy Cross career starting in 17 of the 18 games he played in. While manning the back line of the defense, Jelicic finished the season with three goals and three assists. Additionally, he finished tied for second on the team with two game-winning goals. Based on his impressive play at the center-back position, Jelicic was recognized as a First Team All-CCAC defender for the second consecutive season while also being named to the CCAC All-Academic Team.
All 18 members selected as a part of this inaugural academy were selected as either NAIA All-Americans, Conference Player of the Year or First-Team All-Conference players.
With the opportunity presented, Jelicic has his chance to get someone to notice his abilities in hope for an opportunity at the next level.
"Ultimately, the platform doesn't get any bigger for a player to show what they can do," Jelicic continued. "I'm looking forward to the challenge these professional teams will present. Ultimately, the goal is to get someone to notice your skill, whether it be an agent or a club, and I'm ready to show my abilities on the field."
Jelicic will join a familiar face while on tour as Saints head coach Omar Gallo has been selected as the head coach for the team. Joining Gallo on staff will be Tim Byrnes from Belhaven (Miss.).
"For Niko to not only have an opportunity to play against professional teams but to play alongside the top players in the country is an incredible accomplishment," Gallo stated. "Words cannot describe how proud I am of how he has developed. It will also be great to watch him live during the tour as I believe it will allow him to feel comfortable. I wish him all the best and will continue to pray that his ability and leadership will attract the eyes of one of these professional teams. Thank you, Niko, for all you have done for Holy Cross. You have tremendous support behind you, pal."
Tourbeau Sports Group has been a go-to resource for NAIA Men's Soccer for six years and is our committed to continue building the brand and exposure of talented men's soccer players at the 'small-college' level and help provide the platform for student-athletes to become successful in their future career.
A complete list of the roster, schedule and other notables can be found here.