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Masua experiment proving to be huge success for Seton-La Salle boys soccer

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Levi Masua isn't known for soccer at Seton-La Salle High School. It's on the basketball court where the 6-foot-5 senior usually gets attention for the Rebels.

But this fall, Masua's friends talked him into joining the Seton-La Salle boys' soccer team.

Masua, 17, of Castle Shannon had not played soccer for 10 years, and never expected to contribute. But he is the leading scorer with seven goals and seven assists for the Rebels, who clinched another section championship earlier this week with a 3-1 win at Carlynton.

“My buddies persuaded me to play. I told them I'd be happy playing JV,” Masua said. “I figured it would keep me in shape.”

Head coach Ryan Kelly admits he was unsure how much of an impact Masua would have on the team when he first arrived in camp this summer.

“My expectations weren't very high,” Kelly said. “But he's a hard-working kid, and he put his mind to being a better soccer player.”

Masua quickly moved from a bench player to starter. He plays striker for the Rebels, and has recorded either a goal or assist in every game the team has scored.

“He's the most athletic guy on the team,” Kelly said. “And at 6-5, it's difficult for opposing players to handle him.”

Masua is a prized member of the boys' basketball team at Seton-La Salle and is being recruited by several schools. He expects to make a decision about his college plans during the basketball season.

“I feel very blessed with the choices in front of me,” he said. “It's been a dream of mine to play in college, and being able to turn that dream into a reality feels great.”

Masua consulted with Mark Walsh, head coach of the Seton-La Salle boys' basketball program, before joining the soccer team.

Walsh gave his approval. But, injuries always are a concern.

“If (Masua) gets any kind of nick, we're keeping that in mind,” Kelly said.

Masua is pleased with how it's been going, and has been able to get into tip-top shape for the 2013-14 basketball season.

“They've treated me well. I respect (the Seton-La Salle coaches) a lot and appreciate what they do for me,” Masua said. “My conditioning level is high, and I'm in the best shape of my life right now.”

Masua is enjoying playing soccer this year. He believes the training will reap benefits for him during basketball season.

“We practice a lot of footwork, so I think my feet will be quicker on the court,” he said. “And I'm always jumping for head balls, so I think that will help me jump higher.”

Masua also works with a personal trainer a few times each week during basketball season, focusing on his strength, speed and agility.

Kelly is happy Masua's friends talked him into playing soccer this year.

“I don't know if we'd be as good as we are without him,” Kelly said. “He does things that guys who've been playing (soccer) for years can't do.”

Rebels clinch section crown

Senior captain Kevin Hudson scored twice to lead Seton-La Salle to its section-clinching victory at Carlynton earlier this week.

“The win gives our guys some decent momentum as we close out the regular season,” Kelly said. “More importantly, we got out of their place with the section crown and no additional injuries.”

Hudson scored on a penalty kick early in the first half, and later converted a corner kick off a pass from Justin Nedzesky.

Carlynton cut its deficit to 2-1 on a penalty midway through the second half.

“We defended well to keep (the Cougars) from tying the game, and later chipped one in,” Kelly said.

Senior Zach Hutchinson finally sealed the decision for the Rebels by scoring with a minute left in the contest.

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.

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