For some, high school lacrosse is another sport for students to play during the spring. But for two Ocean City High School girls, it’s become an escape.
On Friday, the Ocean City girls lacrosse team participated in a “Coaches vs. Cancer” charity game at Egg Harbor Township High School against EHT. That day, the Red Raiders honored senior midfielder Kristi Rohrer’s and freshman Mackenzie Pearce’s mothers, who are battling cancer.
Rohrer is one of Ocean City’s key players this season, and it showed in her performance Friday. She scored four goals and added three assists in a 14-8 win.
But this game was different, Rohrer said. There was some added intensity to her play that day.
“It really motivated me to do well,” Rohrer said on the phone Monday. “My mom inspires me every day. Her strength gives me a lot of motivation.
“I wanted to give back to her and show her she inspires me. Her strength is really admirable, and she should be proud of being so strong.”
Antoinette Rohrer was diagnosed with breast cancer in September. In November, she had surgery to remove the cancer. She began undergoing chemotherapy at the beginning of the lacrosse season, with the final round scheduled for May 5.
“Antoinette was more than excited to be there and see Kristi play, and Kristi had an awesome game that really added to the excitement,” coach Alyssa Preis said.
Pearce, 14, participated in the freshman game earlier in the evening. At halftime, her mother, Jamee, was honored with Antoinette, receiving flowers and a photograph signed by the entire team.
Jamee has been battling breast cancer since 2010. Despite having a double mastectomy, the cancer came back and has spread to her spine and head, Mackenzie said.
It’s a tough burden for the Pearce family to go through, but it hasn’t kept Mackenzie from being upbeat and establishing herself as one of the most positive and enthusiastic players on the team, Preis said.
“Every day she comes to practice and games with a smile and is so happy to be there,” Preis said. “Knowing what her family is going through, it makes everyone stronger to know that she can be so strong in that situation.”
Pearce said lacrosse is an escape for her.
She’s been playing it since she was in third grade, and it was her mother who motivated her to stick with the sport when she didn’t like it at first.
Now she uses lacrosse as a way of clearing her mind. Some days are tough on Mackenzie, who would rather go home and be with her mother, but the overall routine of playing has kept her spirits up.
“Being at lacrosse, it helps me get that out of my head, because I don’t want to think about that 24/7, and my mom doesn’t want that to bring me down either,” Mackenzie said. “She wants me to keep going and be strong for her and my family.”
Their ability to draw strength from each other has allowed them to stay positive, Mackenzie said. She also said that being strong has helped her mother take her mind off her illness.
Mackenzie said her mom loves coming out to her games and seeing her daughter play. One of her friends picks Jamee up in Dennis Township and takes her to the games.
With the cancer spreading to her spine, it’s become difficult for Jamee to walk. But getting out of the house lifts her spirits, and that’s the best medicine she could receive.
“She just loves getting out of the house,” Mackenzie said. “Whenever she can get out of the house, she feels that she can get over this. It’s a confidence booster.”
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