Mac O'Keefe Shooter

Is Mac O’Keefe the best shooter in the world?

By Jerome Taylor

Sep 15, 2023

“Without a doubt [I consider him one of the best shooters in the pro game].” 

That was Archers’ Head Coach Chris Bates’ response to the question. 

“That's not a knock on anybody else,” Bates added.  “But with his range, all over the field… he's always a threat.”

Mac O’Keefe has carried his reputation as one of the best shooters the college game has ever seen to the pros. In his first two seasons, he gave the PLL a glimpse of his ability to make the scoreboard move. Now in his third year, he’s entered the realm of elite scorers. 

Heading into the second game of the season, Bates told O’Keefe, “If your hands are free, I’m never going to tell you not to shoot.” 

With the green light, O’Keefe has been all gas. During the regular season, he had the second most scoring points (22 1pt, four 2pt) in the league, and in the game to push the Archers into the Cash App Championship, he put up a hat trick on 12 shots.

“He's just added that gunslinger thing [to our team],” Bates said. “We've given him a green light, and he's had a hell of a season.”

His unorthodox, varied, and accurate shooting has him on a shortlist with legendary players that goalies don’t want to see winding up. 

What's it like trying to stop a Mac O’Keefe Shot?

After interviewing goalies across the league, who will remain anonymous, they mentioned a couple of common traits that their least favorite (read as most effective) shooters have. Their shots are deceptive, and their placement is versatile and accurate.

“You don't really see [elite shooters] take many of the same shots. They mix it up a bit in terms of spraying their shot,” one goalie said. “I'm a big film nerd guy to watch shots and pick up tendencies, and those who don't have tendencies to pick up are the ones that are harder to get a read on.”

Most goalies around the league guesstimate where the ball is going based on who’s shooting and the angle of the shot. O’Keefe’s shot typically comes from his ankle. 

Most of the time, if a shooter has a low wind-up and release point, like O’Keefe, chances are they’re shooting high. So, goalies can effectively eliminate half the cage when it comes to predicting the placement of a shot. 

But that’s where O’Keefe separates himself. 

“What makes a guy like Mac special is he's got the ability where everything else looks the same, but then the ball just stays low,” another goalie said. “It's kind of a worm burner. You have to respect all spots in the cage as he's pulling up with that windup.”

Speaking of his shot, several goalies mentioned that O’Keefe’s isn’t exactly fluid, and that’s not an insult. 

Like a bad golf swing, O’Keefe has a hitch in his shot that can cause a goalie to second guess where the ball is coming from and, subsequently, where it’s going. 

But even O’Keefe has tendencies. 

Some goalies mentioned that even the best shooters revert to what they’re most comfortable doing in late-game situations or when a team needs a goal. 

Yet, with players like O’Keefe, two other aspects of his shooting place him in the haut monde of shooters: accuracy and velocity. 

“Let’s say that he's shooting the ball high 90 percent of the time – you're talking either right under the crossbar or in the corner; he's extremely accurate,” an all-star goalie said. 

“Naturally, if the stick's low, goalies are getting low, now the velocity coming back up over your head… he already has you beat as soon as he crouches two inches. You give him even a little bit because of his stick, and now you're playing catch up with a ball going a hundred miles per hour.”

Combining his accuracy, velocity, and deceptive stick makes it apparent why he’s such a prolific scorer. 

But this season, he’s become unlocked thanks to Bates’ message to him early on. His 89 shots in the regular season were second only to teammate Connor Fields (94), and the result hasn’t been kind for opposing goalies. 

“When shooters get hot, or they get a lot of opportunities to shoot, that's when they'll start really mixing it up,” one goalie said. “That's when they can start playing mind games with you. And, that's when they can have those five to seven-goal performances that everyone's pretty afraid of.”

Goalies around the league are now putting O’Keefe on lists with players like Mike Chanenchuk, Connor Kelly, Will Manny, Eric Law, 300-plus goal scorer Marcus Holman, and 3-time MVP and teammate Tom Schreiber.

When you’re on that list, the opposing scout is easy to say but impossible to execute. 

“Our scout would be don't let him get shots off,” one goalie said. 

“Similar to basketball, [he’s] like a stretch shooter… Got to get a hand in his face the whole time, don't let him get comfortable on the picks, go over the top of the ball screens and stuff like that so he can't get his hands free to shoot.” 

O’Keefe’s emergence as one of the game's elite shooters is one reason the Archers will be competing in the Cash App Championship next week. In Philly, there’s a good chance we’ll all be seeing O’Keefe pick corners or get off some worm burners as the Archers try and win their first title.

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