Experienced, talented SAIT transfer Illich bolsters Griffins' goalkeeper group

Marko Ilich has previously played for SAIT and UNBC.
Marko Ilich has previously played for SAIT and UNBC.

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Looking to bolster his goalkeeper position after workhorse starter and 2022 Team MVP Josh Stayko transferred due to his academic program, MacEwan Griffins head coach Adam Loga scoured his longstanding scouting list.

The name that came to him was Marko Ilich.

"I spoke to Marko probably in March 2022 about coming and things didn't work out then," said Loga. "Just knowing Stayko's situation and needing a goalkeeper, I was running through some of our previous scouting lists. I just thought of him and gave him a call. 

"I know there were some other Canada West schools who were interested. We're happy he chose us."

Ilich is a newcomer to MacEwan, but he brings a ton of post-secondary experience. After a season in Canada West with UNBC in 2017-18, Ilich played for his hometown SAIT Trojans in the ACAC for two seasons (2019-20 and 2022-23).

Last season, he led the Trojans to the ACAC Championship (a 3-1 win over NAIT) and into the CCAA bronze medal match (a 2-0 loss to Nomades de Montmorency). His stats were impressive – nine wins, a 0.63 GAA and .829 save percentage in the regular season and a 0.75 GAA and .778 save percentage in the ACAC playoffs.

Ilich then followed that up by playing in B.C. ultra-competitive League 1 ranks for Harbourside FC this past off-season.

"B.C. League 1's a competitive league," said Loga, who coached in Alberta's League 1 with Edmonton Scottish. "Obviously, Alberta started this past summer as well. It's just playing with the best from around. The fact he's starting at these standards shows he's keen and in form. He should be able to flow right in here and do just fine."

With that pedigree, Ilich has a strong chance to start games right off the bat for the Griffins as they look to fill Stayko's shoes.

"Marko's a technical keeper, but he's very good with his feet," said Loga. "With the talent we have, we want to play a bit more possession-based footie. He can lend that out the back for us.

"He should be able to do a job for us, and if not, we've got some capable keepers ready to come in as well. We're lucky to have him and find him so late."