Yough’s Kendalyn Umbel commits to play soccer at YSU, won’t play high school season

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Wednesday, July 19, 2023 | 4:57 PM


Like a penalty kick in a shootout, Kendalyn Umbel has lined up her Division I college soccer future — with two years left in her high school career.

Umbel, a rising junior at Yough who does not plan to play for the high school team this season, announced a verbal commitment to Youngstown State.

The standout midfielder and two-year starter scored 11 goals and delivered 13 assists last season for the Cougars.

“I chose Youngstown State University because it has my major and is connected to the LECOM program,” Umbel said. “It is also the perfect distance from home, has a beautiful campus and the most amazing coaches.”

Umbel is going to focus on another sport this fall, but she still will get her kicks.

Karate will be the priority until she achieves her goal.

“I have been training in karate since I was 4 years old,” she said. “Karate has always been on the back burner for soccer, and I have had a goal to achieve my third-degree black belt for quite some time, so I am going for that goal now.”

“I will focus more heavily on karate until cup starts later in the fall, then I will resume my usual karate schedule. Through all of my karate training, I will still be training for soccer as well.”

She is undecided if she will play for Yough as a senior.

Umbel, who at 5-foot-10 is a matchup problem for teams, had a unique sophomore season. Due to a shortage of players — Yough often played with 12 girls — she played every position on the field, including goalkeeper.

She is a two-time All-WPIAL player.

Former Cougars coach Mike Veychek, who resigned in the offseason, has coached Umbel since she was in elementary school.

“One thing that has always stayed the same is her commitment to training,” Veychek said. “Quite simply, she’s the hardest-working soccer player I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She is a kind and respectful person and a great teammate to her fellow players. She is capable of playing anywhere on the field, but her best positions are up the middle of the field, center back, holding center mid or attacking center mid. She is a rather unselfish player who I think gets more joy out of getting an assist then scoring a goal.”

Youngstown State likes to recruit the WPIAL. More specifically, Westmoreland County.

Yough’s all-time leading goal scorer, Justine Appolonia, is a senior this season at Youngstown State.

Appolonia was a Trib Westmoreland Player of the Year. Last year’s county player of the year also plays for the Penguins in freshman Sara Felder, a Greensburg Central Catholic graduate.

Other locals on the YSU roster are sophomore Emma Rigone (Norwin), redshirt freshman Tatum Gretz (Greensburg Central Catholic) and sophomore Taylor Lloyd (Penn-Trafford).

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

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