Men’s Player of the Year: Jeo Kocevski

Due to a spring European trip his Syracuse University soccer team took, Jeorgio Kocevski joined the Long Island Rough Riders two games into the 2023 USL League Two season.

But it didn’t take him long to ingratiate himself to the team and with head coach Tom Bowen.

Some 53 minutes into his Rough Riders debut at the Hudson Valley Hammer on May 27, Kocevski snapped a scoreless draw with his first goal for the team. He duplicated that effort with a 75-minute tally as Long Island recorded a 3-0 victory.

“It was a team that we played only once, so we knew if we could get the three points, that they weren’t going to get them back,” Bowen said. “It was a really tight first half. We came out second half and Jeo just took the game by scruff of the neck. He scored two unbelievable goals. Everybody on the bench with me just looked at each other. ‘Holy crap, we’ve got a player here.’ “

Indeed, they had.

Kocevski’s performance on the field this past season was recognized by the league as he was named to the Best XI.

His performance also was not unnoticed by his team or his coach. The 6-1, 175-lb. midfielder was voted the Rough Riders’ Players’ Player of the Year by his teammates and was named the team’s Player of the Year as well.

Quite a trio of accomplishments.

“The thing that impresses me most is his humility,” Bowen said. “There’s no ego about him. He’s super talented, but at the same time, he worked his socks off. He’s everything you’d want in a central midfield player. He’s got the size, but he also gets around the field. He’s good on both sides of the ball. takes really good care of it when we have it and creates goals as well.

“When we didn’t have the ball, he was a workhorse. He’s in your face. He’s got a little bit of a chip, a little bit of a nasty side, which I think every player needs if you’re going to play in the middle. With those tools, I think he’s an MLS guy.”

After the Rough Riders season, Kocevski returned to Syracuse for his senior season. The Liverpool, N.Y. native was an important part of the Orangemen’s march to their first NCAA Division I crown, finishing with a career high of five goals and four assists.

Needless to say, big things are expected of Kocevski.

“If he follows up with a good senior year at Syracuse, he’s going to be a pro,” Bowen said. “He started this [fall college] season fairly well. Syracuse obviously coming off the back of their success last year and then the success he had, I think he’s ready.”

As it turns out, Bowen isn’t the only one to think that. Just ask Kocevski’s teammates, the league and his coach.

“Like I said, he’s a super humble kid,” Bowen said. “There’s no selfishness. There’s no desire to be the main man even although often he is.

“He’s the nicest kid; super grateful. He says thank you for everything. We were saying thank you to him for playing for us.”


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