- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
In 2011, Michael Parker and Mac Burke led national powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School to a 20-0 undefeated record that included a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title and a co-national championship from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
That season, Parker, a resident of Owings in Calvert County, was a key senior defender on a Stags unit that recorded 13 shutouts and didn’t allow more than one goal in any of the 20 games played.
Burke, a resident of La Plata in Charles County, was a starting sophomore goalkeeper and served as a vital force in DeMatha’s run during that span.
Three years later, the two have joined forces again, this time as teammates on the U.S. Naval Academy men’s soccer team in Annapolis.
“When I was a senior in high school, Mac was our starting goalie and we won a national title. He’s just a great player and has grown a lot over the year,” said Parker, a junior defender this season on the Navy roster, who led DeMatha to a 44-0 record in his last two years of high school. “He’s a tough player in the goalie box and I’m excited to be playing with him again.”
Burke, a true freshman goalkeeper for Navy this season, now will get to play with Parker again, this time at the college level.
“It’s been great [so far]. We get our DeMatha jokes in and we talk about home,” said Burke, who was a four-star recruit by Top Drawer. “We can relate on a lot of things. He has been helping me out a lot, especially with plebe summer.”
The relationship between Burke and Parker started to blossom during Burke’s recruiting process.
“Mike committed to Navy during his junior year of high school and we started talking about it then. I knew it was a college, but I didn’t know much about the soccer team or about the school,” Burke said. So Mike really helped me make the decision to come here.”
Before arriving at Navy, Parker had always been a big brother figure to Burke at the high school level, and that connection will continue in the college ranks.
“I got to come visit him and watch the games. I came up with his family a lot,” Burke said. “Michael was our captain at DeMatha when he was a senior and I looked up to him a lot. He’s been a really big role model for me.”
Burke is also familiar with Navy head coach Dave Brandt, having already known him for several years and played with his son Danny in high school who is now a sophomore at defending Division III national champion Messiah College (Pa.).
“Practice has been going well and I like the team a lot,” Burke said. “I knew coach Brandt coming in because Danny Brandt and I went to high school together, so I had an idea of what his expectations were for the team. The past couple weeks of preseason have been fun and it’s been going well.”
The Navy squad has been going through rigourous training and practice sessions to prepare for the 2014 season, which kicks off next Friday at Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo. It will have a scrimmage tonight at home versus Binghamton University (N.Y.) in preparation for its season opener.
Navy had an impressive season in 2013, finishing 16-4 overall and 9-0 in the Patriot League. It won the Patriot League tournament title and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after taking down Virginia Commonwealth University in the first round.
The Midshipmen finished the season ranked No. 25 in the NSCAA coaches poll and returns five starters and its top two goal scorers from a year ago.
“I’m real excited. We had one of our best seasons in four years. We have a lot of three- and four-star recruits,” Parker said. “We’ve been working hard in training camp and we will have a very good nucleus coming back. I think we can make another run.”
Burke was one of 10 incoming freshman recruits that were recently announced by Brandt. The recruits recently went through induction ceremonies and participated in plebe summer activities.
“This is a group of guys who are good players and fit what we do in terms of our playing style and who we are as a program,” said Brandt in a school press release. “All 10 have significant high-level playing experience and are the right guys for what we need on and off the field.”