Coach Bates’ 4 Keys to the Championship Series
The fastest offense on two feet is about to get a whole lot faster. The 12-man roster is set, featuring a lot of offensive firepower and some new faces in the cage. I spoke with Archers head coach Chris Bates to break down the making of the Archers Championship Series squad and his biggest focus as a coach under the Olympic format.
The defense question
The Archers have arguably the best offense headed to Washington D.C. - Marcus Holman, Will Manny, Grant Ament - all players who can put the ball in the back of the net with ease and swagger. The Archers offense produced the most assisted goals in 2022 with 83 and a team assisted shooting percentage of 34.4%. With the high volume of shots in this format - and only short-sticks to defend them - defenses will have their hands full.
Under Olympic rules, the typical strictly offensive attackman will be tasked with playing some defense as well.
“We’re definitely an offensive-heavy team,” said Bates. “[Jon] Robbins and [Jared] Conners are the only two traditional defensemen we have on our 12-man roster, those eight other guys aren’t used to being on the other end of the field. However, our offense lends itself to a lot of principles I think we can incorporate in those teachings to help these guys get used to playing some D.”
The emergence of new two-way guys?
Though Holman, Manny, and Ament may not have much familiarity on the defensive end of the ball, the Archers are bringing quite a few players with experience as a two-way player in the field game, the most valuable asset under Olympic rules.
“Matt Moore I think will do really well; his skill set lends itself very well to this style of play,” remarked Bates.
Moore played mainly attack in college at UVA as the program’s all-time leader in points. With some experience at the midfield having originally been recruited to Virginia at the position, the rookie moved permanently back to the midfield for Bates showcasing his ability as a do-it-all kind of guy. An unselfish, well-rounded player with a large range as a shooter, Moore certainly stands out as a guy who could play the hero in this style of play.
Bates also mentioned Jeff Trainor and Ryan Aughavin as two he’s interested in seeing playing in this format. Both have been fringe guys for the Archers in-season tasked with taking on different roles than what they were used to in college.
Trainor, drafted by the Archers in the 2021 College Draft as the 18th overall pick in the third round, played as a midfielder his entire collegiate career at UMass. He’s the second highest scoring midfielder in program history with 143.
Aughavin recently graduated from Brown and was drafted 29th overall in the fourth round by the Archers. Also a midfielder in college, Aughavin produced 41 points with 28 goals in 2022 for the Bears to help lead the team to the NCAA Tournament.
With so much offensive talent on the Archers roster, but guys have appeared mainly as SSDMs for Bates. However as trained midfielders, both possess a two-way ability to their games and with their particular skill sets, could really break out in the Championship Series.
New faces in net
While the Archers built their roster in-house for the most part, they did bring in a couple new faces between the pipes.
Nick Washuta appeared in two games for the Archers this past summer to back up Adam Ghitelman with Brett Dobson out. A 2020 University of Vermont grad, picking up Washuta from the player pool was a no-brainer for Bates.
“He’s a known commodity for us,” said Bates. “With the connection between him and Coach Kavanagh [Archers assistant coach and assistant coach at UVM], he spoke very highly of having coached him in college…he’s a high-character guy that cares.”
The Archers also picked up Brendan Krebs, a goaltender out of Manhattan College. Though Krebs doesn’t have professional experience in net, Bates is excited to see what Krebs does with the opportunity as the two battle in training camp for the starting role.
The 13-yard difference
Quick restarts after goals, 30-second shot clock, no shot backup, a 13-yard two-point arc, attack playing defense - there’s a lot of differences under Olympic rules. Still, Coach Bates didn’t even think twice when asked what he considers to be the most significant change.
“That’s an easy answer: The 13-yard two-point arc,” he remarked. “There’s no data points on it, you have no real great ability to study it.”