Archers Offense Jackie Set

Film Study: Inside the Archers’ “Jackie” Set

By Zach Carey

Jul 8, 2023

The Archers Lacrosse Club has no shortage of offensive weapons nor schemes to allow those players to thrive. But the club’s “Jackie” set is a fascinating case of utilizing the personnel and scheme to allow for straightforward decision making and high quality looks at the cage. 

So far this season the Archers have thrived at initiating offense from up top with 11 goals on 30 shots (36.7%) generated from initiation at the top of the offense. That success rate is first in the league through three weeks with the Cannons as the only other club to be at 30% or higher. The “Jackie” set is a meaningful part of that as it properly accounts for the strengths of the team’s biggest threats and presents opportunities for a collection of different players to thrive. 

“It’s a very base set, but I think it can allow for certain guys’ strengths to shine,” says Archers Head Coach Chris Bates, adding that “it gives us a good opportunity to attack from anywhere on the field.”

Named “Jackie” after Jackie Robinson and his classic no. 42 jersey, this offensive set that the Archers use to initiate offense from up top starts in a 4-2 formation (from the perspective behind the goal) with four players spread across goal line extended and a pair of midfielders up top. The ball starts up top with the pair of midfielders initiating via a two-man game with at least one pick set in order to get hands free and a potential step on the defense. 

Meanwhile, the four players near goal line extended are each in pairs as well with a double mumbo action as the two inside players pop out to the perimeter while the two players who start on the outside cut in and provide a slight disruption for the defenders guarding their popping teammates. The first element of this play allows for the midfielder starting with the ball to get a look and utilize the space generated by the initial picking action and how the double mumbo occupies the off-ball defenders and delays the slide. 

This goal from Tre Leclaire against the Cannons is an example of just that. With Leclaire sweeping to his right, Tom Schreiber doesn’t bother with the initial pick with the big righty getting a step off his initial dodge. Down low, Matt Moore and Grant Ament flip spots on the far side with Moore dragging his defender away from the slide scheme while Mac O’Keefe and Connor Fields do the same, staying spaced to complicate where the slide comes from. As a result, Leclaire gets his hands free and buries the shot from roughly 12 yards.

Moore and Schreiber ran the same action against Chrome in Charlotte. They’re the two who typically initiate “Jackie” and both of their two-handedness makes life notably difficult for defenses when they pick for one another. On the play below, Moore changes direction twice, separating from his short stick matchup and freeing his hands for a quality shot on the run. The ball pinged off the far post and bounced to Schreiber who started to step into a shot, hesitated when his defender closed out, and then canned the nearly identical shot.

What’s important here is how the Archers have identified the value of using Moore and Schreiber together. The rebound to Schreiber was obviously lucky, but their respective dodging and passing prowess forces defenses to pick their poison. With Schreiber particularly, “Jackie” puts the club in a position to exploit his renowned feeding proficiency. The Princeton alum is currently second in the league in total assists with eight, second in assist opportunities with 22, first in total passes, and second in both total second assists and second assist opportunities. 

“We’re always trying to take advantage of his ability to find somebody,” Bates says, also noting how “it forces decision making out of the defense if he’s the pick guy or the mirror guy."

“Jackie” first allows Schreiber to thrive in the two-man game with his intellect as a dodger and a picker. From there, if he carries the ball left or right, he can pick apart how the defense plays either of the mumbo actions. 

Below, Schreiber starts with the ball as Moore comes to pick for him on his right. Schreiber splits right seemingly to carry in that direction, but he notices that Leclaire — who was the player popping from the crease on the righty wing — had caught his defender lacking. Schreiber fires an immediate pass that way and, per usual, the ball hits the back of the net when Leclaire shoots. 

This is where the “Jackie” set folds in the strengths of the guys down low. Leclaire has an absolute howitzer of a shot and only needs a sliver of space to get it off. Ament’s cut to the crease and Schreiber’s split to his right drew attention off Leclaire and, with Schreiber’s ability to pin-point a pass to a teammate’s stick from anywhere on the field, the 13-yard step down was a piece of cake.

Leclaire isn’t the only quality step down shooter that the Archers have. Mac O’Keefe mans the lefty wing in “Jackie” and although he hasn't scored off the play through three games, it seems like only a matter of time before Schreiber splits left and finds O’Keefe curling on the opposite side. O’Keefe is currently second in the league with seven assisted goals and his 35% shooting rate on assisted shots is impressive considering how most if not all are step downs from distance. 

The double mumbo element of “Jackie” also creates the opportunity for the player cutting and curling off the crease to catch and dodge if his defender doesn’t get caught up in the picking motion. 

Versus Chaos, Schreiber makes an almost identical pass to Moore as the one he dished to Leclaire against the Cannons. He uses the pick to split right and then throws back across his body to Moore who’s just come off the mumbo ghost pick from Challen Rogers. But Moore doesn’t quite have the space nor the footing to shoot so, as he catches the ball, he continues his momentum up field to increase his angle, turns his hips, and scores before the help arrives.

Once again, a simple look executed to perfection by players who are being used correctly generates a goal. In a league where there isn’t an abundance of time to master dozens of different plays or schemes, the Archers’ “Jackie” set is the perfect foundational method to attack PLL defenses. It doesn’t rely on any one individual to win their matchup and it will only take up a maximum of 10-15 seconds of the shot clock. 

Bates believes that his team will be able to further benefit from this offense as the new pieces including O’Keefe and Rogers get more comfortable. “We’re just scratching the surface,” he noted. Bates continued, emphasizing that “those guys are just going to be much more comfortable as they get acclimated,” and that Rogers will be valuable given “his box background, his two-man background, and his selflessness off the ball.” 

The 32-second shot clock after faceoff wins has only added to the necessity for generating effective immediate offense. With midfield dodgers and feeders as capable as Moore and Schreiber, shooters of the quality of Leclaire and O’Keefe, and off-ball tacticians such as Rogers, Fields, and Ambler, the Archers are almost always going to be able to rapidly create a quality look.

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