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Greensburg Central Catholic’s Mort values championships over individual accolades

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A player with Luke Mort’s scoring prowess could go rogue in his senior season. He could become enamored with personal goals and a rhythm of individuality, and let it overshadow team goals. It happens.

But Mort is sure it won’t happen to him. In fact, the Greensburg Central Catholic soccer standout and Division I prospect can virtually guarantee he will put teammates ahead of personal accolades. Why? His reasoning is a humble mix: two parts gratitude and one part humility. The realization that he can’t do it alone has him eager to chase championships over individual accolades — those will come organically, he believes.

“The guys who score all the goals get all the glory,” Mort said. “But I owe it all to the guys behind me. The defenders and midfielders make it happen and set up the scoring chances. Anything I have accomplished is a credit to my teammates.”

The spike in hot temperatures recently — before the more recent flood rains — prompted GCC to cancel a couple of practices. Mort, though, took matters into his own hands and organized an impromptu workout last Wednesday night in Carbon.

“We got the boys together to kick it around,” he said. “We need to keep the chemistry going.”

Mort, a quick forward who can shoot from just about anywhere on the pitch, has scored 101 career goals — 21 as a freshman, 37 more as a sophomore, 39 last season and four so far this year. He has drawn interest from a number of Division I programs but has narrowed his list of choices to five: Robert Morris, Pitt, Holy Cross, Dartmouth and Princeton.

“When Luke gets the ball he has one mindset: How do I score?” GCC coach Tyler Solis said. “He wants to go (score). But he understands we’re going to run into something where he is going to need help. Some players come in with those big egos and that cockiness but you don’t see that in Luke. He keeps pretty level-headed.”

Mort, who plays for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds program, honed his skills against professional competition over the summer. He said he took part in 10 sessions against Riverhounds players and took his lumps.

“It was one-, two-touch soccer where you really had to think quickly,” Mort said. “You realize the game is so much more mental. You get beat down and wonder, ‘Why am I here and what am I doing?’ But you get better because of it and you realize what it takes.”

High-level college soccer has been on Mort’s priority list for years. But he didn’t expect it as much as he worked for it. “Ever since my freshman year I knew I had to step up my game to compete with kids from all over the country,” Mort said. “There are only 220 Division I programs, and they recruit from across the country, Europe and other places in the world. I knew it would be amazing for a kid from Greensburg, from a tiny school like GCC, to go D-1.”

Two years ago, Mort said he could have attended the Portland Timbers developmental academy through his affiliation with ODP. But he chose to stay at GCC.

“And I am glad I stayed,” he said. “I don’t know if my top-5 schools would be the same.”

GCC, which started the season No. 3 in the Tribune-Review Class A rankings, is fueled by back-to-back quarterfinal losses. Last year, the Centurions lost three one-goal games to section rival Winchester Thurston, including 2-1 in the quarterfinals at Hampton.

“We want to get past the quarterfinals and win a championship,” Solis said. “That’s what I have preached to these guys. That is the end goal here and they know they have the potential to get there.”

Mort and JoJo Schwerha made for a nice one-two scoring combo last year but they have parted ways. Schwerha transferred to Belle Vernon.

“He’s a good friend, and I wish him all the best,” Mort said. “He wants to take a different path. We have to worry about the 11 guys who are here.”

Solis said Schwerha left the team after a couple of practices. Schwerha, who attended a tryout for the D.C. United Academy, is awaiting approval from the WPIAL, Leopards coach Rob Miele said, to join the team at Belle Vernon.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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