Harnett Central's leading scorer talks about her return to the pitch after winning MVP of the Harnett County Girls Soccer Kickoff championship.
ANGIER — Emily Parker made up for lost time during opening week of the Harnett Central girls soccer season.
Two ACL surgeries, one on each knee, in consecutive years forced Parker to be sidelined since her freshman season.
The Lady Trojans senior stood on her home field in almost disbelief on March 2 as she held the Harnett County Girls Soccer Kickoff MVP plaque following a 4-1 win over rival Triton.
"It's so crazy. I don't have words for it," Parker said after netting two first-half goals in Wednesday's championship match.
"I think I wouldn't say surprise, but kind of like astonished just because I missed out on my junior and sophomore year. So just coming back ... never playing a tournament, especially on our field, it was a great feeling."
Parker's goals provided the perfect punch of momentum after Triton struck first and took a 1-0 lead just minutes into the first half.
After a couple of close attempts on goal, she raced ahead of the defense and rocketed a shot to tie at 1, then scored again with nearly 10 minutes until halftime to give Central its first advantage.
"I think at first, we started off rocky," Parker said.
"But I think with all the practicing we've been doing– with all the cutting balls, off-splitting and stuff like that– I think it really has made a difference."
Lady Trojans midfielder Ava Hollingsworth scored with just ticks left in the half to make it 3-1, then finished off the title victory with a second-half goal.
Central (2-0) coach Johnny saw his squad outscore opponents 11-4 through the first week, with his senior striker accounting for six goals.
"Emily is pretty creative ... she's a good target for us," Pilkington said.
Parker began the 2022 campaign with a career-high four goals in the 7-3 semifinal victory over Smithfield-Selma on Feb. 28. Even with the hot start to signify her valiant return from a pair of serious injuries, she credited the early success to her supporting teammates.
"I just want to say it's the whole team ... because I wouldn't have been able to do what I do without Ava (Hollingsworth), or without the wings or the defense of the goalie," she said.
Below is Parker's acceptance speech along with her responses to questions from The Daily Record staff.
ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: I'd like to thank Coach Pilkington for pushing me, and the whole team.
FAVORITE SUBJECT: English
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
FAVORITE ATHLETE: Mallory Pugh
FAVORITE TEAM: Bayern Munich