XENIA — Other than his Legacy Christian team picking up the win, Thursday night may not have played out exactly as Parker Burke envisioned.
Helping set up his teammates to get the Knights out to an early lead, anticipation for Burke’s big moment grew by the minute. But then the sky opened as a mist turned into a rain. He took his first shot at the net just after 15 minutes has passed, but a ball was saved. So he tried again.
And did so again. And again. Until it finally happened.
Just after halftime, Burke beat the Miami Valley goalkeeper on a short range hopping ball which couldn’t be handled with 35:40 remaining in the match to score his 100th career varsity goal and help his Knights’ team stay unbeaten with a 6-2 win.
“It’s cool it happened,” Burke said. “It does feel good, but it wasn’t the greatest game and could have been better. But it was cool.”
Burke had six total shots in the first half that finished in a variety of saves, high sails over the net or off defenders feet and it was clear frustrations were building as he laid on the ground and got back in position.
The pressure never was getting to him though, he said, but he certainly knew everyone was waiting for him to reach the milestone.
“It did get in my head a little bit and that kept making it worse,” Burke said. “I sort of hesitated on a couple plays. … I just kept doing what I was doing and knew shots would come.”
One of the reigning Metro Buckeye Conference Athletes of the Year in 2022, Burke has been a first team all-league selection since his freshman season.
After scoring 12 goals in his first year, he burst out the previous two with season totals of 28 and 42.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” LCA head coach Joe McCaskey said. “I look back at my high school days and think how I wasn’t close to 100 goals and people don’t watch soccer may not realize how crazy it is.”
He isn’t just a scorer either. Burke had a direct assist, his sixth of the season, on a goal by Dillon Campbell and made solid passes as the defense closed in to give his team the best chance at scoring in every opportunity available.
Burke’s night didn’t end on a particularly happy note for himself however after he injured his leg during a fall in the midfield late in the game.
While he said he believes he’ll be ready for the next match, the injury did not exactly let him enjoy his moment.
The biggest concern though Burke said as he iced his thigh after the game was not about his own health, but not being available to help his teammates finish out the final minutes its win.
“Parker is very humble,” McCaskey said. “He doesn’t have too many individual goals that he’s ever displayed. I’m sure he wants to score goals, win the conference and things like that, but I think more as a team captain his goals are more team centered.”
Through his initial six games this year, 17 total goals put him on pace for 46 by the end of the regular season. Should he reach that pace his total would be 128, high enough to eclipse the career mark in the Metro Buckeye Conference that Eli Eyrich set for Yellow Springs a year ago at 125.
Burke’s aspirational goals may be focused on the team, but his soccer goals help the team be successful to the point the Knights have gone unbeaten in its last 31 regular season games spanning three seasons.
Thursday’s game for Burke saw several more shots than he was used to not going in the net. The missed chances piled up as the rain put a damper on the excitement. And he had to end his night earlier than he wanted.
But Burke got his milestone goal in the middle of it all and happily helped his team get the win.
Congratulations senior Parker Burke on 100 career goals!! #WeAreLCA @MetroBuckeye @xeniagazette @Steven_Wright_ @ohiostatescott @jw_gilbert @OHSoccerCentral @SWOSportsDaily @OHIO_HS_Soccer @mvssca_soccer pic.twitter.com/KzFmRczEAg
— LCA Athletics (@KnightsofLCA) September 8, 2023
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on X (formerly Twitter) @Steven_Wright_.