Mary Kate Person had a feeling that last Tuesday would be special. The Jericho senior had invited her family and all of her friends to the game in hopes — pretty confident ones, at that — they would be able to watch her score the 100th goal of her high school girls lacrosse career.
They saw that pretty quickly. Perched at 99 goals Tuesday morning, all Person needed was one for the milestone. She got that early. Then she kept going, and going, and going until she had tallied 15.
Yes, Person scored 15 goals (and assisted on another) in an 18-15 win over Herricks, more than she had ever recalled scoring in a game at any level. Entering Friday, she led Nassau with 42 goals in five games. She is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“My whole family and all my friends came out,” Person said. “So, I think in the beginning of the game, I was just like, ‘I’ve got to show out.’”
This is Person’s second lacrosse season on Long Island – and first full one, given that the 2021 season was shortened due to a pandemic-inspired truncated high school sports year. She grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, playing her freshman lacrosse season at the hyper-competitive Downingtown East High School in Exton, Pennsylvania.
She moved to Jericho in the summer of 2020 in an effort to be closer to Long Island University, where her father, Andy, works as an administrator. At first, the transition into Jericho was difficult. With no sports in the fall of 2020, her first on Long Island, she felt isolated. Then sports started and that all changed.
“I went the whole first half of the school year really not knowing anybody,” Person said. “My way of making friends was through sports. (Not having sports) was so weird. But then, when sports started up, I just made all the friends in the world and they're super awesome.”
Her friends soon learned that Person could play. After struggling to get on the field as a freshman at Downingtown East, she scored 67 goals in 14 games as a junior at Jericho. It was then that the 100-goal marked popped into her head.
“I just knew I was going to go full gas forward,” she said. “I knew I was going to get it. I honestly didn't think I was going to get it this fast. But, you know, it worked out.”
There was another reason why Tuesday was so special to Person. April 2, three days before her 15-goal performance, was the 15-year anniversary of the death of her mother. Dottie Person died of cancer when Mary Kate Person was a toddler.
The anniversary was foremost on her mind when she took the field Tuesday.
“I went out there and I just (said) ‘everything I do is going to be for her,’” Mary Kate Person said. “I honestly think she was with me when I did it.”
She continued: “She's definitely the reason why I pushed myself so much. Our family is a very athletic family. We all play Division I sports. She wanted us to be in sports and she wanted us to do our best. My dad really instilled all that kind of stuff through her.”
Family will, yet again, take center stage next year. Person is committed to play lacrosse at LIU where, in addition to representing that same school her father works at, she’ll play with her sister Caroline, who is currently a junior there.
“Their team is like a family and it’s something I want to be a part of,” Person said.
But, for now, she’ll savor the memory of that special Tuesday, while looking forward to many more moments like it.
“It was such a heartwarming kind of moment,” she said. “It was a milestone because everything that I've ever worked for came to that moment and now that it's happened, it's the road to 200. What’s next?”