By Kyle LoJacono
Land O’ Lakes High boys soccer players Justin Lyles and Kody Parker committed to play college ball on Jan. 9 and 10 respectively.
Lyles, a midfielder/forward, signed with Thomas University in Georgia, while Parker, a goalkeeper, picked the University of Tampa. Both are team captains.
“They’ve been big leaders for us the last few years,” said Land O’ Lakes coach Mark Pearson. “Their schools will be getting great players and outstanding young men.”
Lyles has been on the varsity team since his freshman year and has five goals and 10 assists this season. He plans on majoring in business and marketing.
“It’s like a big weight off my shoulders,” Lyles said of making his commitment. “I’m happy I’ll get to play in college. Playing here with guys like Kody and with coach Pearson has been amazing for me and I’ll always remember it.”
Parker has been a near impenetrable wall of the Gators (18-1), allowing only five goals in 17 games this year including 58 saves. Last season he had 15 shutouts and 129 saves.
“It’s a good feeling because honestly it’s a horrific process,” Parker said of being recruited. “It’s just not a fun process, but now it’s done and I’m going to play for one of the top schools in Florida and top Division II schools in the nation. It’s so much stress just gone.”
Parker, who has been on varsity for three years, said part of the frustration came from not knowing what coaches and scouts thought of him during games. He plans on majoring in international business and said he may get a minor in sports management.
The Gators will begin play in the Class 4A-District 8 tournament at River Ridge High Jan. 24. Land O’ Lakes has won the district championship the last six years.
“We’ve got the three district championships since we’ve been here,” Parker said. “Hopefully we can get a fourth and keep that going, but the goal is to make it further than we ever have. We want to make it the best season possible.”
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