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Franklin Regional grad Mastovich takes advantage of opportunity at Penn State Behrend

| Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Penn State Behrend sophomore defenderr Andrew Mastovich scored two goals off corner kicks against Pitt-Greensburg on Sept. 23.
Penn State Behrend Athletics
Penn State Behrend sophomore defenderr Andrew Mastovich scored two goals off corner kicks against Pitt-Greensburg on Sept. 23.
Penn State Behrend sophomore defender Andrew Mastovich, a Franklin Regional grad, was named AMCC defensive player of the week Sept. 25.
Penn State Behrend Athletics
Penn State Behrend sophomore defender Andrew Mastovich, a Franklin Regional grad, was named AMCC defensive player of the week Sept. 25.

Soccer was not a yearlong commitment for Andrew Mastovich during his days at Franklin Regional.

He also played basketball and ran track, but Mastovich showed enough promise on the pitch for longtime Penn State Behrend coach Dan Perritano to take notice.

Perritano saw a player who could defend in one-on-one situations, maintain composure and was strong in the air.

“(Mastovich) didn't play club soccer until his senior year, so we knew he would get better after he got here,” Perritano said. “There was quite a bit of upside and being with better players every single day would be beneficial.”

Mastovich — one of three sophomores from Franklin Regional (midfielder James Young, goalkeeper Chris Ralph) on the Lions roster — needed something else to work his way into the regular rotation: patience.

As a freshman, Mastovich appeared in one match for Penn State Behrend, which won its eighth Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament for the sixth time.

At the start of his sophomore season, Mastovich wasn't in the starting lineup either.

“I wasn't playing much. I got time here and there,” Mastovich said. “Because of injuries, I got a chance and I wanted to show coach what I can do. When I wasn't playing much, I just kept practicing. Once you get a chance to show what you can do, you've got to take it.”

Mastovich has played in five consecutive matches for the Lions (8-3, 1-0) with starts in the past four games through Saturday's 1-0 overtime victory against Mt. Aloysius. In a 3-1 victory against Geneva on Sept. 21, Mastovich had his first collegiate goal. Two days later at Pitt-Greensburg, Mastovich scored twice in a 3-0 victory.

For his efforts, Mastovich was named AMCC Defender of the Week.

“I've definitely improved from the beginning of the season and last year,” Mastovich said. “I was hoping at the beginning of the year that I would start. I felt I was playing well enough to start, but I had to show coach that I could do it. This has definitely boosted my confidence. When you're doing something good for your team, it feels good.”

Against Pitt-Greensburg, Mastovich scored both goals off corner kicks.

“The biggest thing for Andrew is he's taking advantage of the opportunity,” Perritano said. “He's been patient. He's worked hard.”

And Mastovich has become popular with teammates.

“He's as humble and quiet as they come,” Perritano added. “When he scored his first goal, you could see that his teammates were sincerely happy for him. He's got a huge smile on his face all the time.”

He's also helped Penn State Behrend play some of its best soccer of the season.

Since Mastovich entered the starting lineup, the Lions have outscored opponents 8-1.

“I didn't play much last year, but I got to watch what the guys did,” Mastovich said. “We want to continue that. We want to win the conference and make the NCAA Tournament again. We're capable of doing that.”

Mike Kovak is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at mkovak@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MKovak_Trib.

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