In the first half of the men’s soccer game against Rutgers-Newark, junior forward Amer Lukovic showed why he is one of the premier players in Division III soccer. Seconds after recording an assist, he found himself on the receiving end of a deep pass and with multiple defenders tightly contesting. In a flash, he rocketed the ball passing the keeper and into the net with pinpoint accuracy.
For any player, it would have been an impressive goal but for Lukovic, it was just 1 of 26 on the season.
As of publishing, the junior striker leads all of Division III in goals scored and has a shot at making history by finishing the season with the national scoring title. Lukovic is also just three goals away from breaking Lucas Terci’s school record record of 28 goals in a single season. He is on track to finish this season with the highest average goals per game in program history.
The two-time United Soccer Coach’s All-American has been the primary scoring threat for the Red Hawks since he debuted in 2021, but has been on another level offensively this season, as his goal count this season may end up eclipsing the 28 goals he scored in his first two years. Lukovic says that the chemistry he has built with his teammates as well as his experience have been the major contributors to his success this season.
“It’s just the team chemistry,” Lukovic said. “I’ve been here for three years and a lot of guys have been here for three years with me, so building up that team chemistry helps a lot. You get to know each other and how each other plays, you know, it’s just easier for us. Things start to click.”
He continued by saying that ball placement from his teammates has also been key to his game.
“We know our strengths and we know our weaknesses, so we just play with each other’s strengths,” Lukovic said. “If my teammate[s] know how I want to play, then it just makes it easier for them [and] it makes it easier for me.”
On a team that has been ranked in the top 25 nationally all season, Lukovic is still able to dominate the offensive play. Junior midfielder Owen Murphy says that his competitive drive makes him stand out.
“He passes it, he works hard off the ball, he’s just a finisher,” Murphy said.” He’s a goal scorer, he finds the right spots and puts it in the back of the net. Aside from that, I’ve played with a lot of great players but he’s one of the most competitive players I’ve ever played with. He just wants to win more than anything.”
Murphy knows Lukovic well, playing with him before coming to Montclair State University at Players Development Academy. After playing with him for so long, he says that he can score from anywhere.
“Sometimes when you don’t think that you can find him, he finds a way to get to the ball,” Murphy said. “Sometimes when you don’t think that he’s open, he finds a way to get open so his movement and the way he just wants to find the ball and wants to hunt the ball down and hunt those goals, it just makes it easier for everyone else. He does that on a consistent basis.”
When Lukovic scores, the Red Hawks do too as the team is 31-2-2 all-time when he finds the back of the net. But when he’s on the field, Lukovic says that he focuses on winning rather than increasing his goal total.
“I don’t really worry about the goals,” Lukovic said. “I just kind of like go for the win, you know, and goals just come. If I just play my game, if the team plays their game and we stay composed, you know, goals will come.”
With the closing stages of the 2023 season approaching, Lukovic is locked into a race for the Division III Golden Boot and as of publishing, leads the nation by three goals over SUNY Delhi’s Roberto Velasquez-Osorio. Lukovic said although the national scoring title is on his mind, winning takes priority.
“I’m not gonna lie, I do think about it,” Lukovic said. “But before heading into games, I don’t really like [to think about it], I just stay locked in and mainly I just try to get the win.”
Growing up in nearby Clifton, NJ, Lukovic said that the support he gets from his hometown is the reason he chose to come to Montclair State.
“It means a lot, actually that’s exactly why I came here because it’s not even 10 minutes away,” Lukovic said. “My parents can come, family can come, friends can come. It just feels great knowing that people can support me like that.”
Montclair State has proven to be a home to the whole Lukovic family, as Amer’s cousin, junior defender Ramo Lukovic also plays for the soccer team, and his sister sophomore midfielder Amra Lukovic plays for women’s lacrosse. Lukovic said that being close to home makes it easier for everyone.
“To be so close to home it’s easier for us,” Lukovic said. “Especially last year when my sister and I [shared] a car, you know, and driving here and driving her. All of us being in the same place just makes life easier.”
Although he is on the cusp of setting multiple school records, a national scoring title and a third consecutive All-American award, Lukovic said that he is only focused on one thing that has always eluded the Red Hawks.
“I just want to bring home a national championship,” Lukovic said. “That’s it.”