Parker helps Norsemen win title

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By Mickey Patterson

LOUISVILLE – Final exams are a bit easier to beat this semester for Shawn Parker.
Parker, a sophomore soccer player at Northern Kentucky University and the the rest of his teammates, celebrated a bit of a break from finals by winning the NCAA Division II national championship Saturday at the University of Louisville soccer complex.
"It definitely lightens things up a bit there," Parker said. "The professors are a little more lenient because everyone is so excited."
The Norsemen defeated Rollins College 3-2 to take the title.
"We were ranked in the top 10 all year long, but I think we were all really surprised we won it this year," Parker said. "When I started talking to the coach up here one of things he asked me was about my goals and I said I wanted to win a championship. I never thought it would come this early. We were the youngest team in the tournament, we only lose two seniors."
The Norsemen won the title in a thick snowfall that forced the field to be plowed at halftime and a one-hour delay mid-game. The Norsemen lived up to their name as they adapted better to the weather than their opponents from Florida.
"The snow was ridiculous, Saturday night it was really a snowstorm," Parker said. "It was funny because we had talked about it Friday before the game how we hoped it at least snowed some in the morning. We had no idea it would be like it was. We were used to practicing and playing in the cold and I don't think they were and it was an advantage for us."
Northern won the title after seeing a 2-0 first half lead evaporate in the first seven minutes of the second half as Rollins scored on a pair of corner kicks to tie it.
The game-winning goal came midway through the second half when NKU's Michael Holder headed a shot that saw the wet ball slip through the hands of Rollins goalie Keneil Baker and fall into the net for a 3-2 win.
Parker was a key reserve the talent laden Norseman this season scoring a goal with three assists this season.
He has enjoyed his two years with the program as he hopes to progress toward a more significant role next year.
"I love it here and it's in Kentucky which is great," Parker said. "The fact the championship was in Louisville was even better. I got to see a lot of my friends who came to the game which was really good."
Parker had a stellar career at Oldham County High School scoring 63 career goals as a four-year starter.
He was consistently ranked among the state's best players helping the Colonels to four regional titles during his tenure.
He said the day-to-day competitive nature of the college game has been the biggest adjustment.
"We had some really good players in high school at Oldham County, but probably the fact that everybody is good here is the biggest thing I had to get used to," he said. "You have to come out and compete every day in practice. Our coach says you have to come out and earn your job everyday in practice so the toughest part is just adjusting to how hard everyone plays in practice everyday."
A sociology major, Parker is thinking of a coaching career after he leaves NKU.
His focus now is to get better for his junior season.
"Last year I didn't get to play much as a freshman so I had to play really hard in the off season and the pre season to get better," Parker said. "I had a pretty good year. Winning the championship will just make it that much easier to try and get better before next season."

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