Only a few weeks after returning from its spring break trip to France, the Lehigh men’s soccer team announced its incoming class of 2021. This year’s class of eight players is highlighted by Trevor Koski, coach Dean Koski’s son.
“It’s always special to think about — being here 25 years and now I have a son that is part of our program,” Dean Koski said.
Assistant coach Ryan Hess normally leads the recruiting process anyway, but he took an even greater role in Trevor’s case. Hess said the process wasn’t all that different for him, but might have been for Dean Koski, who took a more hands-off approach.
“Coach (Dean) Koski wanted to make sure that ultimately, if Trevor was going to be a player that ended up in the program, that he was worthy of that and deserved to be there,” Hess said.
Dean Koski also has another son at Lehigh: Alec Koski, a freshman who works with the team. Alec praised his brother’s skills, confident he would do well at Lehigh.
“He’s a good player, he’s smart, he reads the game well,” Alec said. “He knows where to pass and he’s a very good passer. As long as he gets a little more fit and more strong, I think he’ll be successful at college soccer just because he knows the game so well.”
Hess specifically praised Trevor’s soccer IQ and vision, saying it’s what jumps out right away when watching him play. He added Trevor makes good decisions when he has the ball and has the ability to create goals for himself and his teammates.
While Dean Koski was taking a step back during the recruiting process, Alec said he may have helped push his brother toward Lehigh.
“Maybe I played a small role (in his decision to come to Lehigh), I’d like to think, but at the same time, as a brother, he’ll never admit that,” Alec said.
Even without Trevor, a Bethlehem native, this year’s class is much more local compared to past years.Two other players hail from Pennsylvania, while four of the remaining five are from New Jersey or New York.
“I guess for this year, this recruiting class, we were able to identify kids within this region that kind of fit what we were looking for, both academically and obviously with soccer,” Dean Koski said.
The lone player from outside the tri-state area is Matt Phillips, a Michigan native and one of two defenders in the recruiting class.
On the other hand, the other defender in the class, Jonathan Blaine, could not be much closer to home. Blaine is from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, and played on the same club team, Lehigh Valley United, as Trevor.
Dean Koski noted the benefit that comes from being able to recruit players out of Lehigh Valley United, a team he knows well after having coached there for years.
He also commented on the success the team has enjoyed recently in recruiting players from the club, including big names like seniors Jacob Gottwald and Justin Worley and sophomore Mark Forrest. Freshman goalkeeper Will Smith, who started a majority of games in net this past season, is also a Lehigh Valley United product.
Dean Koski said the team prioritized recruiting midfielders in this class because of how many the team is losing this year and next.
Only six players saw action in all 18 games this past season. Four of them – senior Danny Gonzalez and juniors Jack Miskel, David Zipkin and Kevin Klinkenberg – will be graduating within the next two years and are listed at midfielder as either their primary or secondary position.
“We were really focused on the front half, the attacking half, and I thought that we really checked off the boxes that we needed to in order to give us either appropriate depth or put players in position to compete for playing time,” Dean Koski said.
Besides just focusing on specific positions, Hess said the coaching staff tries to bring players with certain qualities to the program. Leadership, specifically, was a trait Hess singled out as something the coaches were looking for.
“It’s an important part of admission here at Lehigh, so finding and developing leaders on and off the field is hugely important to our coaching staff and to the university,” Hess said. “A big part of our evaluation process is finding young men that can come in and be quality leaders, and as well, quality ambassadors for Lehigh.”