As an All-City League soccer player, Oregon native Kelsey Kovacs could have
gone to several schools to play collegiate soccer.
She recalled an interest to play at the University of Cincinnati, Xavier, and Dayton, but she chose to be closer to home and picked Bowling Green State University. She's glad she did.
"I committed by the beginning of my junior year," Kovacs said. "They offered and I accepted. I liked it. It's close to home and a lot of my family members are at home games. I'm still definitely away at college, but they're there if I need them. I love my coaches. They're there for more than just soccer. And, I love my team. The girls are all really nice and we're a very close team."
The 5-foot-5 Kovacs is a sophomore midfielder for Coach Andy Richards' Falcons. She is majoring in applied health science, but she is still undecided whether she wants to attend medical school or nursing school, or to become a physical therapist.
"Something in the health field," she said. "I just don't know yet."
Kovacs was a standout soccer player her freshman year at Clay, but she transferred to St. Ursula Academy for her final three years of high school. She lettered as a freshman at BG, which has become a Mid-American Conference title contender under Richards.
The ninth-year coach, a native of England, said he likes what he's seen from Kovacs.
"She can be very technical and she has good skills on the ball," Richards said. "She sees the game very well. She's very strong in the air. If the ball's in the air, she'll get up and attack it. We play her as a defensive midfielder, so scoring is not one of the priorities of her position. Her role is to assist and to keep the ball moving and keep possession for our team and be a destructive influence when the other team has the ball."
Kovacs admitted that it took some time to get used to playing soccer at the Division I level.
"When you're going to play a college sport, most of time you were the best player in high school and you think everything is easy," she said. "Then, everybody is just as good as you. It's competitive every day. You know you're a good player, but the girls are a couple years older than you and more experienced.
"It's tough because you have to keep your confidence. You know you're still a good player and your teammates may be better, and they're just trying to make you a better player when they critique you."
Kovacs has been a starting midfielder this season for the Falcons, who were 4-3 and 0-0 in the MAC prior to the team's trip to Riverside, Calif., on Tuesday. The Falcons will play UC-Riverside on Sept. 18 and UC-Irvine on Sept. 20.
"Kelsey had a good spring season and has done well this fall, and she's played more than she did as a freshman," Richards said. "A lot of it is the work she's put in and a lot of it is her experience. She's a terrific kid. We have a lot of personalities on this team and Kelsey is one of them. It's also nice to have a local kid. That's good for the program, to show we can bring kids in locally."
Kovacs, 20, underwent surgery to repair the ACL in her left knee in 2003 and again in 2005, but she hasn't had any problems in years.
"I'm good to go," she said. "If it happens again, it happens again, but I don't worry about it. My knee isn't any different than what it was before. I don't remember how it was before I had surgery."
Kovacs has yet to score a goal in college and she has just one career assist for the Falcons, but that doesn't bother her. In BG's system, she is not asked to provide offense. Being on the field and helping her team win is the most important thing, according to her mom, Debbie, who said playing soccer is her daughter's "love and passion."
"Everything about (soccer) is better than every other sport," said Kelsey, who played volleyball in junior high and basketball at Clay. "There is a whole team aspect, but yet you still have your individual roles to make the team better. I just like soccer better than anything else. I don't watch it on TV that much. I like to play."
Kovacs said her goals this season are to "keep my play up and continue to get better."
"Our team goals are to win the MAC championship and get into the NCAA tournament," she said. "We came in fourth in the MAC last year and we're working hard this year. We're 4-3 and two of our losses are to Michigan State and Ohio State, and those are two very good teams. Now we travel to California and we'll see how we do there and then start into MAC play. We're hoping to do well this year."