Mac O’Keefe is rarely awestruck by a lacrosse display — usually it’s O’Keefe putting on the show.
But the recent Syosset High School graduate and Newsday’s 2016 Long Island Player of the Year said he had to take a step back when he saw the talent during the 2016 U19 Men’s Lacrosse World Championship, being held July 7-16 in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
It didn’t take long for him to bridge the learning curve.
O’Keefe is one of five locals competing for Team USA, which went 4-0 in round-robin play, advancing to Thursday’s semifinals against Australia at 4:30 p.m. Pacific.
“Going from high school to this, it really raises the bar,” said O’Keefe, who scored four goals and added an assist in a 17-3 win over the Iroquois Nationals Monday. “Everybody’s very talented and it just makes you a better player. It’s been awesome playing with players at such a high caliber. It’s really a great experience.”
Austin Henningsen (Northport), O’Keefe’s roommate for the tournament, Gerard Arceri (Smithtown East), Matt Borges (Garden City) and Tyler Dunn (Manhasset) are all competing for the U.S. while Gordon Purdie (Lynbrook/Australia), Hayden Edelson (Great Neck South/Israel) and Eric Wang (Ward Melville High School/China) round out the local crowd.
Dunn scored two goals Tuesday as the U.S. closed out pool play with a 19-6 win over England.
O’Keefe said tryouts for the team began last July and included training weekends throughout the year. He added that the team, made up of recent high school graduates and a few collegiate players, notably from UNC, flew to Seattle two weeks ago for a handful of training days before driving north for the tournament.
Chemistry built quickly, O’Keefe said, and the U.S. has proved to be a force on the international stage.
“I think if we stick together and play our game we’re going to have a tough time not winning it all,” O’Keefe said. “There’s just so much athleticism on this team and I think we can play with anybody.”