Parker looks to continue to gain on-field experience as Syracuse faces Cornell

first_img Published on April 15, 2014 at 12:45 am Contact Tyler: [email protected] Midfielder Devon Parker said she sometimes has to pinch herself on the Syracuse sideline. It’s a simple way of confirming that her goal of taking the field against the teams and players she diligently watched on ESPN3 throughout high school has been realized.“When we first played teams like Maryland and Northwestern, I was watching them walk out of the locker room saying, ‘It’s them!’” Parker said. “It just makes me want to try harder.”Lately, Parker has turned her commitment to the sport into more playing time. After spending an entire calendar month watching from the Syracuse bench, the freshman has been a regular in the SU rotation since netting a goal against Harvard on March 18. She’ll look for another opportunity to contribute offensively when the No. 1 Orange (13-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) heads to Ithaca, N.Y., to take on Cornell (6-6, 3-2 Ivy League) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.Not knowing what to expect when the season began, Parker said she’s now more comfortable than she’s been all year. The resulting confidence has allowed her to earn an expanding presence on a squad littered with talented upperclassmen.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“With the schedule this year and the amount of difficult teams we play, you have to find your role,” Parker said. “Be comfortable in it and work hard to improve.”Parker was a standout athlete at Portsmouth (N.H.) High School, playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse. She particularly excelled in the latter, tallying 66 goals, 49 ground balls and 103 draw controls during her junior season. Despite all that success, Parker was initially worried her skills wouldn’t translate to the next level.“I was coming from a talent level that wasn’t anywhere near the New York upstate area,” she said. “I was nervous about the speed of the game and how I would fit in a player role, different style.”Fortunately, Parker found that she enjoyed the fast-paced attack run by the Orange. But the new system still provided a steep learning curve, which forced Parker to mostly watch and observe from the sideline through February and early March. She took in everything she could, particularly the constant effort by the midfield unit.Although each midfielder excelled in one particular area, they embraced their role for the benefit of the entire team.If they could do that, so could she.“They sacrifice everything between the two 30s,” Parker said. “When you see that, you can do that in practice. Those kinds of things … that’s the motivation.”The upperclassmen, like senior Amy Cross, have seen the competitive drive in Parker and the team’s other freshmen.“You just see them working hard, and it really gives you hope for the future of this program,” Cross said. “You know you have to do that extra work and you’re going to be on both ends, and it’s awesome to see (Parker) working that hard.”Orange head coach Gary Gait said the sheer amount of lacrosse Parker has played gives her tremendous upside as a budding college player. Throw in her commanding presence and hand-eye coordination, and she can become a key piece for the Orange in the coming years.“She’s got great size, great stick work,” Gait said. “She just understands the game really well.”For now, though, Parker is content to learn from some of the best players in the country and build even more confidence. Then, just maybe, the next wave of lacrosse talent will be watching her on their computers.“Our team has been doing so well lately, and we’ve been given a shot to get in there and show what we can do,” Parker said. “It’s been cool to watch and be able to put that into action the last few games.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more