By Larry Moko
A 6-foot-5, 200-pound goalkeeper who led St. Jean de Brebeuf to its first Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic indoor soccer championship has landed a soccer scholarship to St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.
Luka Gavran will become a member of the NCAA Division I Red Storm beginning in the fall.
“I’m excited,” Gavran said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
In addition to his involvement over the past four years of high school with the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, Gavran played at various showcase events in Canada and the United States with the GPS Academy. That organization is based primarily in Stoney Creek and Oakville.
“Luka stands out,” Brebeuf coach Larry Garcia said. “Anyone watching his games would notice him.”
Gavran was outstanding during two days of HWCAA indoor championship tournament action at Redeemer University College this past week. There, he stopped four of five penalty shootout attempts and showed off a powerful leg in driving the ball downfield.
Dino Perri, a St. Thomas More teacher and former goalkeeper who is in his 11th season as coach of the McMaster Marauder men’s soccer program, was on hand for the final between More and Brebeuf. When asked about Gavran, Perri said: “First and foremost, it’s his size. He’s a big body – the prototype for a goalkeeper.
“He’s an excellent athlete, as well. It bodes well for him. I still don’t think he’s reached his full potential. Going to St. John’s for four years and really committing himself to goalkeeping should be huge for his progression.”
Gavran started playing for the Hamilton Croatia organization at the age of 6. He learned the skills of a striker until shifting to the goaltending position at the academy five years ago.
Said Perri: “Because he played out for so many years you can see he’s very comfortable with the ball at his feet. That’s extremely important as a goalkeeper. It makes him versatile and more of an asset.”
St. Thomas More Knights coach Marinus Meulendyks agreed with Perri’s assessment and says Gavran is like having a 12th man at the back end of the field.
“He’s definitely a big weapon for them,” Meulendyks said.
A former volleyball player at Brebeuf, Gavran said he is confident in reading the play and going up to grab high balls.
“Luka gets very emotional,” Garcia said. “He’s really into the games. He doesn’t like to lose. His skill has got him to where he is now.”
At St. John’s, the soccer roster is comprised of players from all over the world.
“(St. John’s) is in a great location,” Gavran said. “Who wouldn’t want to live in New York? And they have a great coach who has been with the team for 28 years.”
Gavran plans to study Finance. Then, he’s hoping for a professional soccer career. “The goal right now after my four years is Major League Soccer.”