It was no secret that when the original player pool was divided into the league’s six original teams it was done with intent. Each team leaned on some type of identity, a theme that would help create continuity early. The Whipsnakes have a lot of non-flashy Maryland grads, Atlas are basically an old US National Team, the Chaos are glaringly proficient at the indoor game, and the Archers, well the Archers are some of the best humans in the game.
Not only are these guys good at lacrosse, but they genuinely care about the game and it’s growth. So much so that three players on the team, Adam Ghitelman, Will Manny and Marcus Holman dedicated themselves to growing lacrosse in Utah and globally. The trio moved to the Beehive State as assistant coaches for the DI launch of the Utes, sparking growth in lacrosse across the region. Not satisfied with domestic growth, these men give a tremendous amount of their time and resources to the Give & Go Foundation. Give & Go is determined to help grow the game to all corners of the world and just happens to be founded by Ghitelman and, yup, another Archer, Scott Ratliff.
Why does any of this matter?
In a sport where players spend a majority of their time apart from their teammates, with practices limited to a few days before games, connection and culture create a huge leg up.
Ghitelman understands the importance of these connections.
“That piece is everything,” Ghitelman explained. “I think that’s what always excited us about how our team was put together. When you look at our core of Will (Manny), Marcus (Holman), myself, Scott (Ratliff), (Tom) Schreiber, we’ve all played together.
We’ve got pieces from the Machine, got the Atlanta guys, the Give & Go Foundation guys, Utah Lacrosse. There’s a lot of little cool threads in our fabric, Carolina lacrosse in there too. You go up and down the list. There’s just really cool connections within the fabric of our team”
The inaugural Archers season was filled with ups and downs as they finished the year 5-5 and in third place. All five of their regular season losses were by just one goal, which means not only were they competitive, they were just a few bounces away from what could’ve been a perfect season.
The teams offense was proficient, but there were times where they just couldn’t get the ball. Face-off specialists Stephen Kelly and Brendan Fowler combined for a 46% win rate, stack that with 147 turnovers and we can see where some of those possessions went.
Unsurprisingly, the team took Penn State stud Grant Ament in the draft to help replace the loss of Cuccinello in the expansion draft. The Archers now have Holman, Manny, and Ament at attack, something no defense is looking forward to. Throw in the addition of Josh Currier and the team has more options than ever. Not only is Ament a world-class talent coming out college, he’s already had time to make a big impression on his teammates.
“Guys came out here to Utah a few weeks back to do a little mini training camp that we set up on our own,” Ghitelman reflected. “Just watching (Ament) operate as a lacrosse player, but also just as a man and how to communicate his confidence. It’s discipline, you know? His respect for the game, you just look at a kid. I told people, besides Marcus, Will, and Rob Pannell, I haven’t seen a kid come out of college ready to just hit the ground running and be an all-star right away.
He’s locked and loaded. I’ve never seen anything like it, to be honest.”
At the midfield they will miss Ben McIntosh and Danny Eipp (both now on Waterdogs LC), but they return one of the best midfielders alive in Tom Schreiber, along with Ian McKay, Joey Sankey, and Ryan Ambler. Added to the squad at midfield is Christian Mazzone who scored 42 points for the Atlanta Blaze in 2019.
Also returning are Tyler Pfister, Mark McNeill, and Dominique Alexander, all shut down defenders who can help spark transition.
Both face-off specialists return with Fowler mentioning he’s the healthiest he’s felt in years. We hope thats true because an increase in reps for Fowler could lighten the burden on Stephen Kelly, allowing both men to have more success this season.
The @PLLArchers have to be feeling good right now. @BRabbit_3 checking in from camp. “Awesome to be out there again. I think I’m healthy for the first time since early 2017.” For those that don’t remember, In the pros, Fowler had 13 pts in 13 games that year.” #TheStripe
— Greg Gurenlian (@GregBeast32) July 22, 2020
Defensively the Archers will look to star gelling like the offense as they bring back Michael Simon, Matt McMahon, Scott Ratliff, and Curtis Corely. They lose Jackson Place and Evan Connell. Jack Rapine was called to the active roster after Connell failed a COVID-19 test. New this year is the arrival of Eli Gobrecht, who is sure to make his presence felt immediately.
In between the pipes the Archers return both goaltenders, Adam Ghitelman and Drew Adams, from last year, being the only team to consistently split time between goalies. Ghitelman is more than confident the team is sticking with the rotation.
“I think that’s the beauty of the Archers organization and our team’s jobs,” Ghitelman said. “You look at what Drew Adams and I did last year for the second half of the year, where we were able to split the games and, our stat line, if you combine us together we’re the best goalie in the league. We haven’t even bat an eyelash, we’re going to be doing it.”
With a strong core returning and the additions of Mazzone, Ament, Currier, and Gobrecht, the 2020 Archers are completely capable of running the table and turning those one goal losses into multi-goal victories.
Archers LC 2020 Schedule
All Times Eastern
- Game 1: Monday 7/27 vs Atlas 9:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network
- Game 2: Tuesday 7/28 vs Waterdogs 7:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network
- Game 3: Thursday 7/30 vs Chrome 9:30 p.m. NBC Gold
- Game 4: Sunday 8/2 vs Whipsnakes 12:00 p.m. NBC Sports Network
- Elimination Round: Tuesday 8/4