CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It was the final goal in a lopsided loss...so why were the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs celebrating?
Because it was anything but meaningless.
When MacKenna Wertman knocked in the only goal of her high school career, in the final seconds of the last game of her career, it was about more than getting on the stat sheet. It was the fulfillment of a lifetime of goals...including beating cancer...twice.
“I barely thought that I was going to go on the ice at all", MacKenna said. "And to get a goal against the #1 team in the state is unbelievable.”
MacKenna was first diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 8....a year later, the cancer returned...but nothing was going to stop this warrior. She beat it. Cancer free for eight years, the last three as a member of the Bulldogs. But it wasn’t until Saturday that she realized every hockey player’s dream: lighting the lamp in the playoffs.
“The people around me said ‘they’re chanting for Mac to go in’", Wertman’s mother Joanna Sigan remembers. "I was terrified that she’d get hurt.”
There’s at least one other hero in this story. The St. Ignatius goalie, Ben Savarino, who was riding a three-game shutout streak, with six on the season. It was his idea for the Bulldogs to get MacKenna the puck.
“It’s just hockey", Savarino said. “There’s bigger things in life. A shutout doesn’t really matter. That girl’s going to have a memory for life, so to me, that’s more important than a shutout in the playoffs.”
The Wildcats moved on with a 6-1 win...but on that day, the game puck, and so much more, was being celebrated in the other locker room.
“Amazing", MacKenna said. “Both teams working it out for me and being so kind and generous and selfless, to let me do that, is just amazing."