Yough’s Appolonia looks forward to soccer career at Youngstown State

Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 5:53 PM

Justine Appolonia has plenty of goals — on and off the soccer field. Big goals.

The Yough junior standout has known for quite some time she wanted to play at the Division I level in college.

“Of course, it was always my dream growing up,” she said. “What kid who grew up playing soccer, practically as soon as they could walk, didn’t have that dream?

“Although, as I became older I realized that it wasn’t about the division or even league the school was in. I wanted to make sure I was somewhere where I felt comfortable both academically and athletically.”

Appolonia thinks she has found the perfect mix at Youngstown State, the school to which she verbally committed this week.

The high-scoring midfielder also considered offers from Pitt and Mercyhurst and said she also talked to Seton Hill and West Chester.

“After months of thinking everything through, I just had to follow my heart, which told me Youngstown State was where I wanted to be,” said Appolonia, who had 31 goals and 18 assists last season as Yough returned to the WPIAL playoffs.

While aesthetics and atmosphere played a part in her decision — “I fell in love with the campus,” she said — Appolonia also wants to get on the field as soon as possible. That opportunity could come sooner rather than later with the Penguins.

“I am a very competitive person, so I also decided a while back that I wanted to go to a school where I knew I could make an impact right away,” she said. “It was just kind of a coincidence that Youngstown State fit all of those categories and also happened to be a D-I school.”

Appolonia, who has 85 goals and 40 assists in her career, said she attended her first soccer ID camp at YSU.

“I could tell the coaches were genuinely interested in me not only as a player but also as a person, which was very important to me,” she said. “Also, the athletic facilities at YSU are absolutely insane.”

Her coach, and father, Dann Appolonia, had a first-hand view of what college coaches liked when they saw her play.

“The coaches who saw her play consistently mentioned several items during our visits: Work ethic, ball skills in tight spaces, ability to beat defenders through the midfield, and ability to shoot and distribute the ball in the attacking part of the field,” he said. “The college coaches recruited her for her playmaking abilities in the midfield more than anything.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at


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