Athlete of the Week: Petrus adds playoff past to Mutiny

mbmutiny-petrusdiveMyrtle Beach Mutiny goalkeeper Mark Petrus knows a thing or two about playoff soccer. He hopes to bring that experience to the pitch when the Mutiny make their franchise debut in the NPSL postseason.

Before helping the Mutiny to a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, Petrus was between the pipes for the Coastal Carolina University men’s team. Despite serving a backup role most of the 2012 season, he played a starting and starring role for the Chanticleers in the NCAA Tournament.

After posting a shutout over Elon in the opener and helping the Chants take a 2-1 overtime victory over Wake Forest, Petrus was in goal to lead Coastal to the Sweet 16. The Chants finally lost to No. 2-seeded Maryland, but the experience was invaluable for Petrus.

“Playing at the level of the NCAA tourney is extremely high,” said Petrus, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week. “It definitely prepared me for the NPSL Playoffs for sure. At this level, it all comes down to performing under pressure.”

Petrus, who has been limited over the past three years due to a shoulder injury, helped take some pressure off his teammates by posting back-to-back shutouts in Myrtle Beach’s season finales. The 1-0 wins allowed the Mutiny (10-1-1) to secure the No. 2 overall seed and as many as three home playoff games, beginning with Saturday night’s first-round showdown with FC Wichita.

“Coming into the season I expected us to do well, but making the playoffs for the first time in team history is a great accomplishment,” Petrus said. “It’s been an enjoyable journey getting to know different players who I had never played with before. For us to come together so quickly is pretty amazing.”

Petrus credits the early success for helping the Mutiny achieve so many franchise firsts. “To have the start we did with four or five wins gave us a lot of momentum that carried us throughout the season,” he said. “That early success created a positive atmosphere for the team.”

Petrus hopes that winning attitude and his past playoff experience helps carry the Mutiny through the early rounds. Despite some key injuries on defense, including the regular starting cornerbacks, Petrus has the ultimate confidence in his team to make some more history.

“Our two cornerbacks have stepped up and done a great job for us,” Petrus said. “We have back-to-back shutouts and everyone is playing together so well. Obviously our goal is to win the national championship, but we just want to keep playing hard and playing together as a team and see how far we can go.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story was incomplete.

Photo courtesy of MB Mutiny

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