The 2014 season marks the 27th year of Lakeland men's soccer under the direction of head coach Djuro Peric. Peric, the longest tenured head coach in the history of Lakeland Community College athletics and just the second head coach of the men's soccer program, is currently 12th in the nation in wins among active coaches with 252. Over the past 25 years, Peric has guided the Lakers to seven Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) championships and been named OCCAC Coach of the Year six times. Seven of his players have earned All-America honors from the NJCAA while six others were selected by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
No stranger to Lakeland athletics, his time in Kirtland began in 1972 as a member of the men's soccer team. He earned team and conference Most Valuable Player honors as a freshman and was voted as the team's best forward one year later. In his two years as a Laker, he was unanimously voted team captain by his teammates while leading the team in scoring both years. At that time, he was ranked sixth on the all-time scoring list. Peric was selected as the Best Forward at the inaugural Lakeland Invitational in 1972 after amassing nine points on three goals and three assists in two games. That record stood for four years until All-American George Attoh broke it in 1976.
At the conclusion of his playing career, Peric transitioned into coaching. He served as an assistant under Mario Marcopoli before taking the reigns as the head coach in 1988. Since then, the Lakers have posted a 251-202-30 record. He attributes much of his success to Coach Marcopoli. "Everything I did and everything I made, including graduating from Lakeland, I owe to Mr. Marcopoli," said Peric, "He was truly the best mentor I could have had."
In addition to countless all-conference and all-region selections, Peric has coached 17 academic All-Americans at LCC. He currently holds a USSF "B" license and is a member of the NSCAA. He is also involved in the Croatian Community, most notably, the Croatian School for Language and Culture where he served as President for more than a decade. He and his late wife, Angela, have three daughters – Georgiana, Tina, and Annie. Tina and Annie were Lakeland graduates in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Head Coach Djuro Peric (second from right) won his 250th career match on October 3, 2012 and currently ranks 12th in the nation in victories among active coaches.
Career Record (26 seasons): 252-218-27
Conference Championships: Six (1993, 1995, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2008)
NJCAA All-Americans: Nine
NJCAA Academic All-Americans: 17
NSCAA All-Americans: Four