Pitt head soccer coach Jay Vidovich is in his third season with the Panthers. He continues to build the Panthers roster with a mix of talented local players and international standouts. One of the local players he identified a year ago was Greensburg Central Catholic High School standout Luke Mort (5-foot-11 inches, 155 pounds). Mort, known for his blazing speed, had led his team to an outstanding 16-1 record this season and Greensburg Central Catholic, a 2nd seed will play Seton La Salle (17-3), a 3rd seed, this Monday in the WPIAL class A boys’ soccer playoffs. Mort is a team captain and he’s scored 34 goals this season. He committed to Pitt last week. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with him about his decision.
When did the Pitt soccer program initiate contact with you?
In the summer when I was starting to look at other schools they came into contact and said they’ve been watching me and they wanted me to come down for a visit in the summer and I thought it was a great opportunity to get to know the school. I mean, it’s close to home so it’s a no brainer and I think ultimately it was the best decision I had.
Tell Pitt fans a bit more about your rationale for committing to Pitt. What factors went into that decision?
I mean, those three coaches (head coach Jay Vidovich, assistants Michael Behonick & Rich Costanzo) were the three best to me. Everything was most organized when I went on the visit. Everything just felt right. They’re pretty much the three best coaches in the nation I think I could get coached by so I mean it was almost a no brainer to choose Pitt. Plus, I get the play in the ACC.
What other schools were recruiting you?
Dartmouth, Princeton, Holy Cross, and Robert Morris.
You are one of the players that has developed through the training academy with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. How instrumental was that training in your development?
I mean even though the high school training since I became a freshman isn’t always the best it can be. I’ve been involved with the Riverhounds constantly. It’s almost once high school’s over, it’s day in and day out there so it’s a year round process, a lot of hard work, and I think it’s paid off going there every day. I would drive to Pittsburgh by myself. I mean, it’s a very big commitment for someone that’s 16, 17 years old, starting eighth, ninth grade when I moved to Pittsburgh Riverhounds from playing regular club soccer.
Elaborate on how that improved your game. Was it coaching? Was it playing against better competition?
I think it’s a combination of everything because the ECNL (Elite Clubs National League) emerging as one of the best leagues to play in for an academy. I was playing against the best kids in the country. I mean, I play against multiple division one players that help me grow. We went to San Diego, St Louis, I mean, they’re all great teams, great players to play against. The coaching staff there I think is the best all around. They got me where I needed to be.
Talk about what makes you special on the soccer field. What are your strengths?
I’d say probably my athleticism and getting off the block. I run like a 4.4 forty-yard dash so the first two, three steps I think are what separate me from the other players, getting ahead fast. I can shoot just as well with my left foot as I can with my right foot. I still think I need to improve on my feet and better balance, staying up, staying stronger on the ball, getting bigger.
Have the Pitt coaches told you how they plan on using you? What position will you play?
Yeah, they said they like me as a wide guy, use my speed, because I’m not super big, I’m not super strong at all. But they like me, they want to play me in behind, use my speed, or possibly in an outside back.
Is there a professional player you admire? Perhaps a player you model your game after?
I think (French professional soccer player) Kylian Mbappé, one of the younger guys. Justin Martin is one of the best right now.
You will be a local player on Pitt’s roster. There aren’t many. Do you envision yourself as a future recruiter for the Panthers?
Yeah, I think so. I think I want the other guys to look up to me and see that. If you put in all the hard work you’ll be one of the guys that gets chosen. I think the one guy on my team is a center named Nate Ward. I think he’s a great center mid and I think he could be one of the guys that could do it.
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru