By Mike Deak
WINONA LAKE – You may not know the name Parker Stewart unless you are a die-hard soccer fan. His opponents certainly did.
Stewart was an assassin with the soccer ball at his feet. He wasted no time, blistering the net with five goals in Lakeland Christian Academy’s season-opening blowout of Oregon-Davis. To show he wasn’t joking around, Stewart shot for the moon and got it with five more goals in the regular season finale against Blackhawk Christian, which pushed him over 100 goals for his career.
Stewart’s goal-scoring proficiency was fluent. If Lakeland Christian scored a goal in 2019, Stewart had at least one. Stewart didn’t score in three matches, and LCA was shut out on all three occasions. The Cougars were 12-3 in games he found the back of the net.
“Going into many of our games, I knew that I was going to be heavily marked,” Stewart said. “The best way I found to prepare for the game was to just imagine myself not even being marked. If I thought too much about being triple teamed, then it could be a distraction. I just focused on playing my game and did my thing no matter the amount of marks.”
In a shocker, Stewart led the team with a whopping 41 goals, but was also third on the team with eight assists. He had nine game-winning goals, including the only tally of a 1-0 win over rival Trinity and the decisive goal in a 4-3 shootout with Caston.
In one of the top individual matchups of talent in Indiana, Stewart had a hat trick of three goals against Manchester. Harley Kruschwitz, the state’s leading scorer, had two goals to help the Squires to the 5-3 win.
Stewart also strung together an eye-popping six-game streak of recording at least a hat trick, scoring 19 goals in the stretch, that had the Cougars go 5-1 in that span.
“Despite being in Class 1-A, Parker Stewart was an outstanding player,” said LCA boys soccer head coach Dan Miller. “He would’ve been one of the best or the best player on a 3-A team. He played club soccer on one of the elite teams in Indiana. There are plenty of really good players in there are plenty of really good players in class 1A.”
Stewart is just the second Cougar in the program’s history to eclipse the century mark in goals, finishing with 101 for his career. 1989 LCA graduate Corey Rose is the program’s all-time leader with 118. Rose later went on to become an All-American at Grace College.
Stewart had 14, 24 and 22 goals in his first three seasons at LCA.
In 2019, Stewart landed in a tie for 41st nationally in goals scored with his 41 pots. At one point, Stewart was sitting among the top 10 nationally, and was ranked just behind Kruschwitz in the Indiana stats during his six-game hat trick streak.
The senior will continue his assault on the pitch in the fall with Indiana Wesleyan University.
“When I heard from my coach that my name was in the top 20 in the nation for goals at one point in the season was truly an amazing thing to hear,” Stewart said. “Although it gave me an incredible feeling about the hard work I had been putting in, it also humbled me and made me greatly appreciate my teammates’ contribution and support they gave me through the entire season.”