CLOSER LOOK: Lakeside F Mackenzie Akins

Take a closer look at Lake Elsinore Lakeside senior forward Mackenzie Akins and you’ll see a player who is as respected for her attitude as she is for her amazing statistics.

Akins has emassed 108 goals in four varsity seasons, setting school records while placing herself amongst an elite group of players who surpassed the century mark.

She’s also the unquestioned leader of the Lancers (14-6-5), who host a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 first round game on Friday.

“She just sets the bar, the standard, very high. And you want someone to do that so the rest of the members of the team can keep pushing themselves to excel and try and reach those kinds of goals,” Lakeside Coach Brian Henderson said. “The kids respect her and they know how talented she is, and that pushes them to keep improving.”

Akins has always been a leader, and it was evident by her play two years ago when she was dominating as a sophomore, when she scored 23 goals and had 13 assists as the Lancers advanced to CIF-Southern Section semifinals.

“To have someone like that on your team, it just raises the level of expectations,” Henderson said. “We want to go all the way, and we want to get that ring. Especially for this group of seniors we have are pretty special. I started the same year that they started as freshman and I put them on the team because I knew how much talent they had. And we’ve been riding this wave along together. We’re hoping to finish this year as our best year ever.”

I caught up Akins after she scored from the penalty mark to help Lakeside salvage a 1-1 draw with Menifee Paloma Valley in a Sunbelt League game on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012.

The draw earned Lakeside it’s third league title in four season, and preserved both the Lancers’ unbeaten league and home records.

You guys scrap out a result here. What are some of the things you’re thinking about right now?

“It was a little rough this game because we were missing our key, key center midfielder Bailey Bowe with a red card that she got last game. That was definitely a test for our team to see if we could pull this through. You know, Paloma worked really hard. Those are the teams that we kind of struggle with because it forces us to play a lot of kick ball sometimes, and our team isn’t as good in the air. We’re more tactful, on the ground, skill players. I’m happy that we came from behind. We just always need to work on the corners and free kicks. That’s probably our weakness that we need to work on. We pulled it out, though. I’m proud of them,” Akins said.

How do you think your team is preparing for CIF playoffs?

“We got a taste of it our sophomore year, when we went to semis and we beat the No. 1 ranked team (Oaks Christian in the quarterfinals). And then we lost in the semifinals because we weren’t ready for that game. We had it. We got a taste of it and we want it so badly. Everyone’s pumped, even the freshman. We’re all ready. We’re all on the same page. And this was a tough game for us. I think that’s what we needed to get back on track. We’re gonna be ready for CIF.”

That PK was your 104th career goal…

“Fifth,” Akins said. “One hundred and fifth goal. But who’s counting?”

Can you put your mind around the kind of numbers that you’ve produced in your career?

“I’m amazed at how many goals I got to score this year but it’s obviously my team. I’ve got Bailey Bowe, Jasmin Garcia… Without my team I’m nothing but I have been working very hard and it’s my goal this year. In the past I haven’t been so set on records but this year I was like…”

She scored seven goals Perris on Jan. 12, five against Menifee Heritage on Feb. 3. She has 41 goals this season on a team that hasn’t lost a game in more than a month.

“‘…It’s my senior year. I’m going for it.'”

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