University of Akron midfielder Skye Harter, who has spent the past two seasons with AFC Cleveland, is a rising star in the college game. Don’t take our word for it; just ask the voters at Top Drawer Soccer, College Soccer News, and the Mid-American Conference (MAC). Harter earned national recognition from each, tallying Player and Team of the Week honors earlier this month.
Harter was excited to be singled out for his impressive play.
“I think it means a lot, especially coming in from the spring and all the work that our team put in the summer. It speaks a lot for the team. It shows how well our team is doing and that players are getting represented for it.”
The Copley, Ohio native has played in 14 games for the Zips in 2017, registering one goal and five assists. His obvious strengths come in and around the box and in the final third.
Akron head coach Jared Embick has been quite impressed with Harter overall.
“Skye has been very key to our run here recently. He is very creative and a very hard worker. What he has done well here is speed up his game, increased his awareness, and found a couple of those moments a touch quicker than he had earlier in the year. When he is in rhythm he is very strong on the ball, takes great risks, and can score and create goals for us, which is what we need. He has really fit in nicely and been a key part to this late surge for us.”
Expectations are always high at one of the country’s soccer powerhouses, a program that is a perennial contender in the MAC and in the NCAA Tournament. After all they do have one national championship, 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, 13 MAC Tournament Championships, and 19 MAC Regular Season Championships under their belt.
Harter and the team are well aware of the goals they have set for the season.
“Win every game and obviously our big goal is the national championship, but we don’t overlook the little stuff in between. Every game is a must-win. We are looking forward to winning the MAC again. That’s a big one and making a run in the tournament and challenging for the trophy.”
Getting to play nationally ranked teams week in and week out is a special thing for Harter. It is also a treat for the entire UA family and the Northeast Ohio soccer community.
“I am really, really grateful that I play at a program where you can do that,” Harter commented. “It challenges you as a player and as a team to prepare for the big games at the end of the year. It tests what we are putting to work in training. We see how good we are and if we really are competing with the best teams in the nation. I think we have shown that. All of the top ranked teams that come here, we’ve beat.”
Harter is also a local player, having starred at Copley HS, the same district that produced MLS standout Josh Williams, who has played for Columbus Crew SC, New York City FC, and Toronto FC.
“It’s crazy to me that the best program in the country for soccer is right down the road from my house,” Harter added. “It means a lot that my family can come and see me on a regular basis. Friends and family can come and see me play. I have a good support system here at home.
Harter proved to be quite at home with the Royals in the NPSL, making 18 appearances across the regular season, playoffs, and the Open Cup. He was very active in the attack, contributing three goals and five assists as a member of AFC Cleveland.
“Just playing for different coaches with different players at a different level is always interesting,” Harter continued. “If you play for one team so long you develop in that system. It’s good as an individual to see where you are outside of that, if you can develop and challenge for starting positions and minutes and still perform with different management and with different players.”
Harter even won a national title with Cleveland in 2016. According to Harter, it has been a great situation that has helped him as a player.
“I think it has grown to be honest, especially in the playoffs when you get to see teams from outside the conference. I played in front of 7,000, 10,000 fans in the regional final last year. The Open Cup is always incredible, played in front of 14,000 fans against FC Cincy and almost made a game out of it. Those experiences are just awesome. You don’t always get an opportunity to play in front of 14,000 fans in college soccer. There’s always something cool there.”
Like many others, AFC Cleveland head coach Mike Sesar is bullish on Skye’s potential.
“He trains well and has the tools to make it to the next level. Any coach would like to have this kid in the lineup in the NPSL and beyond. Skye will continue to improve and work hard. Skye is the limit for this kid. I look forward to having him be one of the mainstays in the team next season before he moves on to a bigger stage.”