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Most Meaningful Goal: Karns City’s McKenna Martin Reaches Soccer Milestone for Her Mother, Who Is Battling Cancer

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Before the season started, McKenna Martin set out to make history and join a rare sorority at Karns City High School.

The 100 Career Goals Club.

Only the greatest of the great girls soccer players at the school have done it. Their names invoke images of success and dominance on the pitch.

Leslie Barnhart. Brittni Grenninger. Emily LoPresti. Breann Wood. Megan McCartney.

And, now McKenna Martin.

She reached that milestone with five goals against Forest in a 7-0 rout Wednesday afternoon. She needed five. She got five — all in the first half.

But, the achievement means much more to Martin than mere numbers and legacy.

She didn’t set out to soar into that rarified soccer air out of some sense of ego. She didn’t do it because she wanted to thump her chest and brag.

McKenna Martin wanted to do it for her mother, Stacy.

Stacy Martin is battling stage IV breast cancer.

McKenna scored her 100th goal while wearing pink socks and a pink No. 7 on her black jersey in honor of her mother.

“It meant the world for her to be there and experience it with me,” McKenna said. “She’s the strongest person I know. She’s been through so much and had done it all with a smile on her face. She never misses a beat. I was so happy that I got to experience such a huge goal with her.”

(McKenna Martin with her mother, Stacy, and father, Denny)

Karns City coach Tracy Dailey is close friends with Stacy Martin.

The two have spoken a great deal about her cancer, her prognosis, and Stacy’s fears of what she could miss.

“Tomorrow is never guaranteed,” Dailey said. “This is one of those things that as a mom, you just want to see them excel and achieve that huge milestone. That is important for the family and for Stacy to be here.

“When I found out she was stage IV, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is she going to miss out on?” Daily added.

It hits close to home for her because she also has a daughter who is a junior on the team, Emma Dailey — who assisted McKenna on her historic goal.

“I know how Emma and I are and the relationship we have,” Dailey said. “It’s hard to explain the feelings and the emotions because it’s much more than just soccer.”

When it does come down to soccer, McKenna Martin is playing the best of her career right now — and Karns City may be playing its best soccer of the season.

Tuesday night, Martin scored three goals to help the Gremlins beat DuBois, 3-2. That avenged an earlier 1-0 loss to DuBois to kick off the season.

Martin has scored 38 goals already this year for Karns City.

“She works extremely hard at home,” Dailey said. “Her dad (Denny) is a very big component of her fitness and strength and speed. That definitely contributed this year. She’s stronger — she already had the speed. She can hold players off and get that bump she needs to. She just has been more dynamic this year.”

And, she’s finishing well around the net — always an important skill for a scorer to have and one that sometimes needs time to develop.

No longer rushing her shots, Martin has remained cool and collected in front of the goal and is beating keepers regularly.

“That will only benefit her at the collegiate level,” Dailey said.

Martin wanted to reach the milestone as quickly as she could this year for numerous reasons.

Last year, the schedule was shortened because of COVID-19, and she wasn’t sure how this campaign would play out with another COVID spike.

She also wanted to get it out of the way on Wednesday for another unselfish reason.

“This kind of tells you what kind of play and kid she is — tomorrow is Senior Night for our girls,” Dailey said. “She was a little hesitant to carry it over to tomorrow because she didn’t want to take the attention away from our seniors.”

Martin said what she has accomplished hasn’t completely registered in her mind.

She just knows it is “pretty awesome” because her mom was there to see it.

“It’s huge because it was such a big goal of mine and the fact I accomplished it way earlier than I thought I could,” Martin said. “It just kind of hasn’t sunk in yet.”

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