Goal-scoring machine, stalwart goalie take top soccer honors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Vicksburg’s Brandi Parker, left, along with Warren Central goalie Luke Sellers and WC girls coach Kristin Gough earned top honors as chosen by The Vicksburg Post. Parker is the most prolific goal scorer in state soccer history, while Sellers was a wall in goal for WC, recording 13 shutouts. Gough led a very young Lady Vikes’ team to the second round of the state playoffs. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[4/24/04]Brandi Parker and Luke Sellers come from opposite ends of the soccer spectrum.

One is a goal-scoring machine, an unstoppable force of nature who has had her way with nearly every opponent she’s ever crossed paths with. The other is a wall at the end of the field, a formidable last line of a near-impenetrable defense.

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While their games are completely different, Vicksburg High’s Parker and Warren Central’s Sellers do have one thing in common. They are the recipients of the 2004 Vicksburg Post girls and boys Player of the Year award, respectively.

It’s the third straight player of the year award for Parker, who capped her remarkable high school career by scoring 41 goals and assisting on 14 others this season. She claimed the Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year award for the second straight season, and added several other trophies to her already-large collection.

Parker’s success has made her not only a target for defenders, but also of her own legacy. Living up to the hype of a player who has scored a state-record 178 goals in her five-year career is a more daunting task than slipping through a pack of defenders at midfield, she said.

“It’s definitely hard. I’m always worried about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, because I don’t want to let anyone down,” Parker said.

Parker’s unselfish attitude extended to her own health. She played several games at the end of the season on an injured knee, and helped the Missy Gators reach the playoffs.

The Mississippi State signee had surgery to repair ligament damage two weeks ago, and can barely bend her right knee.

“When it came to the playoffs, I knew I shouldn’t have been playing, but I had to play. Just being there gave the whole team more confidence,” Parker said, adding that she should be ready to play when State’s fall season rolls around. “I’m definitely playing. I had to have surgery, but they said our months. So that should be right about the beginning of the season. I don’t even see (a redshirt year) happening.”

While Parker was always looking to score goals, Sellers didn’t set out to stop them at first.

He had never played goalkeeper before arriving at his first practice his sophomore year. WC coach Jay Harrison saw his tall, lanky frame and decided to try him there. Sellers impressed him with the way he dived for balls and sacrificed his body, and won the starting job.

“He took a big leap starting a sophomore over a senior that already had more experience,” Sellers said. “But I did what I had to do to keep my position.”

That included allowing less than a goal a game in his sophomore season, and posting a dozen shutouts this year. WC allowed more than two goals only once this season, and finished with nine shutouts in its last 11 games. On three different occasions, the Vikings had streaks of at least three straight shutouts. The longest such streak was six games.

Sellers was the final wall keeping the ball out of the goal, but he was quick to praise the defense in front of him for making it easy. Thanks to their work, Sellers rarely had to make more than one or two tough saves a game.

“I think I had a pretty good year, thanks to my defense. They made it a lot easier. They get a very large portion of the credit,” Sellers said. “There were many occasions where I got bored just standing back there twiddling my thumbs. But I enjoyed being bored sometimes.”

Parker is going on to play big-time college soccer, but Sellers is not. He said he had a few offers from junior colleges, but would rather focus on his studies and play intramural soccer.

“There were a few junior colleges looking at me, but I didn’t want to have to concentrate on soccer and do schoolwork at the same time,” Sellers said, adding with a smile, “But I definitely will be playing intramural ball.”

2004 Vicksburg Post All-County Soccer Teams

Boys

David Athow, Sr., Warren Central

A.J. Barnes, Sr., Warren Central

Barrett Burnworth, Sr., Warren Central

Allen Carlisle, Sr., Warren Central

Will Clark, Sr., Warren Central

Michael Head, Sr., St. Aloysius

Matt Minyard, Jr., Vicksburg

Coleman Morrison, So., Vicksburg

Dusty Pennington, Sr., Warren Central

Thad Wade, Sr., Vicksburg

Girls

Kara Cretsinger, Jr., Warren Central

Haley Davis, 8th, St. Aloysius’

Andrea Harrison, So., St. Aloysius

Holly Head, Fr., Vicksburg

Megan Humphries, So., Vicksburg

Kari Lieberman, Fr., Warren Central

Caitlyn Riley, Fr., Vicksburg

Mary Clare Scurria, Fr., Warren Central

Beverley Simmons, So., Vicksburg

Megan Wolebon, Jr., Warren Central