Goals keep coming for ‘relentless’ Belle Vernon junior Trevor Kovatch

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 5:34 PM

When he was about 5 years old, Trevor Kovatch wandered into his neighbor’s backyard and, bang, there it was.

“They had a soccer net,” Kovatch said. “I kicked a ball in, and I knew then that I was going to love the game.”

Even before grade school, the junior at Belle Vernon knew he had a gift. He has been kicking them in ever since.

“My dad always pushed me in basketball, but I started to like soccer,” Kovatch said. “I like to watch the game. I like to score a lot of goals, but I want to see us win games, too.”

Kovatch, a 5-foot-7, 160-pounder, leads the Leopards with 22 goals. He had seven in a game earlier in the season to set a team record.

His career goal total is up to 59. He has his eye on the school’s all-time mark of 99 set by Daniel Sassak.

Belle Vernon (7-2) began the week ranked No. 5 by TribLive HSSN and No. 8 by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association in Class 2A.

Soccer is where his heart is. But don’t get him wrong. Kovatch is one of those athletes who is good at just about any sport he tries. Which might explain why he competes in four of them, including two in the same season.

A point guard in basketball and a sprinter in track and field, he joined the golf team this year and his score has counted in three nine-hole matches for the WPIAL-contending Leopards, the Class 2A runners-up last fall.

He shot 39 at Cedarbrook’s Gold course, an impressive showing for a beginner in competition.

“My good friend, Jake Haney, got me into (golf),” Kovatch said. “He plays a ton. I have been working on my swing. I am starting to hit the ball far now, and I am getting help with my putting.”

A straight shooter in conversations, too, Kovatch doesn’t pull any punches. Although he was an admitted storyteller back in the day.

“They used to call me ‘Goose,’ when I was little,” he said, remembering his embellishment fondly, like it was something he brought for show-and-tell. “In the fourth grade, I told a lot of stories. You know, like Mother Goose. One time, I said I fought a bear.”

While that might be believable now coming from Kovatch, his teachers and classmates saw through the tomfoolery then.

Soccer is when he gets serious.

“He is the most relentless kid I have ever coached,” Belle Vernon coach Al Yeschenko said. “With him, it’s just go, go, go. He could have guys on his back, grabbing his neck or hanging onto his legs. It could be 1-v-4 or 5. He’s going to keep going.

“I tell college coaches, you’re going to want this kid.”

Yeschenko coached a Beadling club team to a national cup in Denver over the summer. Kovatch and the coach’s two sons and Belle Vernon players, Brandon and Mason, were on the team.

Kovatch had three goals in three games, and several coaches mentioned to coach Yeschenko how well his striker played.

Improvement is just as important to Kovatch as finishing at the net. He was an All-WPIAL player last season but did not settle on his laurels.

“I wanted to get better using my left foot more,” he said. “And I want to have more off-ball movement.”

Yeschenko, who has coached Kovatch in multiple sports since the standout was about 8, saw something special in him from the start.

“I was coaching a Little League (baseball) team, and I was new to the area (he is from West Mifflin),” Yeschenko said. “We were picking players, and all the dads were saying which kids they thought were the best. I looked down the list and pointed at Trevor’s name. I want him.

“We’re playing a game, and the other team has their 2, 3 and 4 (hitters) coming up. So I move Trevor from shortstop to center field. He catches all three outs, including a diving grab. I wanted to tell the dads, see why I picked him?”

Yeschenko is just as impressed with Kovatch’s speed and technique as the next coach. But he, too, is seeing him blossom into a more complete package.

“His hold-up game has gotten better,” Yeschenko said. “A big part of what we do is having he and Brandon (Yeschenko) create. Trevor can slow the ball down and set up the offense.”

Kind of like he does when he brings the ball up the floor in basketball.

“Our chemistry is 10 times better than it was last year,” Kovatch said. “It’s not all about goals for me. We want to win (WPIALs).”

Now that’s what you call a goal.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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