Latrell Harris Injury

Archers LC places Latrell Harris on injured reserve

By Zach Carey

Sep 7, 2023

In the first quarter of the Archers’ regular season finale, George Boiardi Hard Hat SSDM of the Year Latrell Harris suffered what would be a season-ending, surgery-requiring knee injury. 

But he still played the remainder of the game, helping to severely limit the Waterdogs’ big-little two-man games and even contributing on the wings of faceoffs.

Now, the Archers enter the PLL Cash App Playoffs without the heart and soul of their team

“It’s obviously not ideal,” said Archers Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates on Wednesday afternoon. “We feel for him. He’s a critical cog of everything we do. ‘Treezy’s’ such a unique athlete. His speed is really what makes him unique.” 

Without Harris in the lineup this week nor for a potential Championship appearance for the Archers, the question quickly becomes how the defense will fill the enormous shoes left by one of the best in the world at his position. Bates’ club is actually well positioned to sustain injuries to its SSDM room. Harris and rookies Piper Bond and Connor Maher may be the only true short stick defenders on the roster. But Challen Rogers and Tre Leclaire provide world-class depth at the position even though they’ve been featured parts of the offense in 2023. 

“We’ll likely put Challen down on that end,” said Bates. “Tre [Leclaire] may get some more run down there, but that’s the short term plan.” 

As Bates stated, Rogers is the guy who will step in for his Team Canada teammate on defense. He actually started alongside Harris at SSDM for Team Canada in this summer’s World Championship, so the Archers are confident that his experience playing the position at the highest level will mean the defense can remain stout in its individual matchups. 

One thing the Archers won’t be doing is adjusting their scheme for the new personnel. Matter-of-factly, Bates said that “we are who we are. I don’t see us making any drastic or broad [schematic] changes because of the injury.”

That suggests that the club’s defense will continue to switch the vast majority of big-little picks and continue to live and die by the success of their short sticks defending opposing offense’s attackmen. It’s worked wonders so far this season, so Archers fans will be hoping that Rogers can fit seamlessly into that strategy. 

His sheer size and strength at 6-foot-4 suggests that he won’t have any problem coping with physical attackmen dodging at him. Where he could be tested is against shiftier players, but that’s part of why the Archers are willing to slide to short sticks after switches. As long as Rogers can stop an attackman’s first dodge after the switch, he and the team defense will be in a good spot to force the opposing offense to find an advantage somewhere else. 

This news also puts more pressure on the shoulders of the rookies (or the “pups” as the team calls them) Bond and Maher. But how they’ve performed since arriving in Albany for training camp has instilled confidence in their coaches and teammates that neither of them will struggle with the challenge of playing without Harris. 

“They’ve played well beyond their years from the beginning of the season,” said Bates. “Even when ‘Treezy’ won the [SSDM of the Year] award, he gave really appropriate credit to his short-stick teammates. Those two have met and exceeded expectations. I feel like if any two guys are ready for some playoff lacrosse, that next level mentality and execution, they’re ready. Mentally, physically, they’re well-equipped.” 

Bates is right that his rookie shorties have been truly impressive this season. Bond has thrived as an individual defender, only allowing 14.7% shooting as the closest defender whereas Maher has been solid defensively and has thrived in transition with five goals and an assist in 10 games. 

Bates and his staff deserve credit for picking Maher and Bond in the 2023 PLL College Draft. Each could’ve been considered a reach at the time, but they’ve panned out in a major way this season and have been a huge part of the Archers’ success despite losing five all-time greats — including legendary short stick Dominique Alexander — in the offseason. 

Harris being out for the Archers in their biggest playoff push yet is a major bummer for him, for the club, and for everyone watching on Sunday at 3:00 PM ET on ABC. He’s a different breed at one of the most important positions in the sport. But the Archers are set up well to limit the impact of his absence and to still fight for their first PLL Cash App Championship Trophy.

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