by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Mackenzie Perna was a sixth-grader fired up about soccer and hockey when she heard about this new sport, lacrosse, that was getting organized in District 728.
“They were saying lacrosse was like soccer and hockey rolled into one, so I knew I had to give it a try,” said Perna, now a Rogers senior.
The tiny but tenacious competitor became an energizing presence and co-captain in both lacrosse and hockey with five varsity seasons in each.
She started her final prep season by scoring three goals, including the game-winner with 50 seconds left, in Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman’s come-from-behind 12-11 win over Maple Grove indoors on Monday.
“That’s probably my favorite game ever, so far,” Perna said. “We were way behind (6-1) but we stuck together as a team and won.”
The 5-foot-1 attack wing scored 42 goals and made 34 assists as a junior as one-third of a high-scoring triumvirate with sophomore Emily Antony (59 goals) and senior Kayla Mills (44). They led ERZ to its best season to date, 10-5. Perna tallied 21 goals as a sophomore on a 9-6 team an played a lot as a freshman on a 10-9 team.
“Mackenzie is an awesome leader and an all-around athlete,” ERZ lacrosse coach Stephanie Anderson said. “She is good on the defensive end and good on the offensive end. She is a spark plug and she is always there for the girls.”
At her position, also known as midfield, she runs the 110-yard field end-to-end, knows all the positions, plays defense, shoots and passes. Her best mode of scoring is to penetrate, look for an opening and fake out the goalie. “She is fast, and a good shooter and good passer,” Anderson said.
Perna is anticipating another good season. “I believe we’ll be a pretty solid team again this year. We’ve got good team chemistry.”
She also plays with Minnesota Lakers Select, which travels around the country for tournaments. The club team played in Virgina, Maryland, Florida and Colorado last year. Florida must have made a good impression because Perna has signed up with University of Tampa for next year.
She played for Rogers hockey five years and was a starter for three at forward. Never a big scorer — she had five goals and eight assists on a 10-13-4 team this year — Perna was regarded as the team’s best two-way forward, strong at forecheck and backcheck, never letting her size inhibit her. She took on the top forward on opposing teams and held her own due to skating ability, quickness and head for the game, Rogers coach Scott Childers said.
“Mackenzie was our energizer. She was our most consistent kid, a good captain, and great team player,” the coach assessed.
Regarding her plans to play lacrosse in Tampa, Childers chuckled, “I told her to take her skates along, too, just in case.”
THE PERNA SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Steve and Lori; younger brother Jess … Sports: lacrosse, hockey, soccer … Other activities: DECA … Academic: ‘B’ average … College plans: University of Tampa, lacrosse, major undecided
Favorite stuff — Class: DECA … TV show: Don’t watch much. … Movie: “The Blind Side” … Food: Chinese fare … Team: Twins … Athlete: Joe Mauer