‘A Storybook Ending’: Inside The Moment Mac O’Keefe Made NCAA History
There was just 7:33 left in the second quarter of Penn State men’s lacrosse’s battle against Michigan Friday evening. Then, Mac O’Keefe took the ball and launched it into the back of the Wolverines’ net to score his NCAA-record 213th career goal.
His teammates, coaches, and the fans in Panzer Stadium erupted with exhilaration.
“I sort of blacked out in the moment, to be honest, but it was very special,” O’Keefe said after the game. “There has been a lot of build-up. I haven’t tried to let it affect me too much, but to do it now, and after the game, to reflect a little bit and watch those videos from all those people congratulating me, it’s really awesome. I like to share this moment with my family and all my teammates and move on from there and hopefully win some games after this.”
O’Keefe, a graduate student, entered the game with 211 career goals, one behind former Duke attackman Justin Guterding’s previous NCAA record of 212. He tied that mark two minutes and 10 seconds into the first period.
O’Keefe had a dominant performance outside of his record-breaking score. He finished with six goals during Friday night’s contest, including the game-winner in overtime, and has now amassed a total of 217 career goals with one regular season game to come. After that, the Nittany Lions will battle in the Big Ten Tournament.
“I am incredibly proud of Mac O’Keefe,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said. “Not just for today, but the way he’s managed himself throughout his whole career.”
Tambroni praised O’Keefe’s “humility” and “killer instinct” and touted his stand-up character.
O’Keefe didn’t go into the game focused on making NCAA history. Instead, he wanted to see his team win on Senior Day.
“It was a big game for our seniors and for all the guys not coming back next year,” O’Keefe said. “I knew this was going to be a special one for us if we came out with a win. I was willing to do everything I could to make that happen.”
Considering O’Keefe absolutely shattered the record and was a dominant source of offense for the Nittany Lions on Senior Day, he couldn’t have asked for anything much else.
“It was a storybook kind of ending today for both us and him,” Tambroni said. “To be able to do this at home, to be able to do this on Senior Day, to be able to score a game-winner…I think these kinds of moments favor the hardworking young men or women of the world.”
After coaching O’Keefe for years, Tambroni knows first-hand just how humble and hardworking he is in practice and on the field. It’s safe to say O’Keefe’s historic career wasn’t unexpected for the head coach.
“It’s no surprise that that young man has put himself in the position to be here today and then took advantage of it,” Tambroni said. “A lot of us might be in this position and be overwhelmed by the moment. So, I don’t think it could have gone any better, but I also don’t think it couldn’t have been any more appropriate for the young man.”
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