Lake Highland’s Max Parker Featured in Orlando Sentinel

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With pregame nerves in tow, Lake Highland’s Max Parker approaches midfield for the opening faceoff.

Once the junior enters the center circle, that nervous feeling is replaced by a sense of peace.

“Everyone is waiting on you,” Parker said. “That is the part people think is the hardest, but once you’re in that role, you end up loving those moments.

“You live for them.”

And with Parker’s proficiency as a faceoff specialist, the Highlanders (18-5) are alive in the boys lacrosse state tournament and will take on Ponte Vedra (21-2) in a semifinal at noon Friday at West Orange. Timber Creek’s girls team (20-3) will face St. Johns Bartram Trail (15-6) in a semifinal at 2 p.m.

Teammates, such as Devon Lewis and Clay Phillips, get more attention because of their scoring prowess, but Parker’s niche role has helped Lake Highland make its fifth consecutive state appearance.

“The opening faceoff in lacrosse is huge, and Max wins that for us about 90 percent of the time,” Phillips said. “When we get that, momentum is on our side for the first quarter. Once he gets going, everyone else follows.”

Parker’s contributions come in spurts.

As a faceoff specialist, also known as a FOGO — short for faceoff, get off (the field) — Parker averages roughly 17 faceoffs per match.

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