Penn State Lacrosse will have its leading goal scorer back.
Mac O’Keefe announced on Friday he will be returning to Happy Valley for a fifth season in the spring of 2021, utilizing the additional year of eligibility granted to spring athletes by the NCAA.
The program’s all-time leading goal scorer and the attackman widely regarded as the best shooter in college lacrosse should help keep the Nittany Lions' offense among the nation’s best, even with the departure of Grant Ament.
Although O’Keefe can outshoot basically anyone it is fair to wonder if he’ll be able to maintain the insane goal-scoring rate he has been on for the last year and a half without Ament in the lineup. The number of scoring opportunities he’s going to get will probably decrease as Ament was so good at creating those opportunities for the rest of the Penn State offense.
Combining O’Keefe’s lethal shot with Ament’s creativity led to historic returns a year ago when O’Keefe set the Big Ten record for goals in a season with 78 in 18 games. In the shortened 2020 season O’Keefe already had 28 in 7 games. However, if TJ Malone and other younger Penn State attackmen can fill Ament’s shoes then maybe we’ll all see O’Keefe’s trademark left-hand underhand shots keep coming at the same rate as the past two years.
While lacrosse is a high scoring game, four goals per game is an insane number to keep up. In 2019 it was the best in the country and in the abbreviated 2020 season, it was fourth. However, O’Keefe’s worst season in State College as a goal scorer came his one year without Ament in the lineup, 2018. However, he still scored 35 goals in 14 games in his sophomore year when many lacrosse players go through a sophomore slump anyway.