Connor Fields Archers

Film study: What makes Connor Fields a late shot clock cheat code

By Zach Carey

Aug 25, 2023

When the shot clock hits ten seconds, Archers Assistant Coach Brian Kavanagh shouts “WHITE” to tell his offensive midfielders to start substituting in order to prevent transition. The club is willing to concede having six offensive players for the full shot clock in order to get back on defense.

When the shot clock hits ten seconds is also when Connor Fields feasts. No matter if his teammates are flying to the box, Fields bounds in the opposite direction: towards the goal. 

The Archers don’t have some brilliant late clock scheme. They prioritize early offense, and then whatever comes in the closing seconds is gravy. 

But they have Fields, and that’s more than enough to crush defenses’ morale as the clock winds down. 

Fields leads the PLL in goals scored with fewer than ten seconds on the shot clock (9) and shots taken (34). Only 10 players have five or more goals in those late clock possessions this season. Fields’ 34 attempts with such little time on the clock is indicative of how significantly the Archers rely on him in the closing seconds of possessions as he’s taken nine more late clock shots than anybody else in the league.  

Fields has put up career numbers this year in the Archers offense. The Albany product is tied with teammate Mac O’Keefe for the fifth most points in the league and he’s second in 1-point goals. His 33 total points through nine games ties his career high from 2019 with another regular season contest still to be played, and Fields has already scored two more goals this season than his previous career best of 22 in 2019. 

But it’s where Fields has made his impact within the Archers offense that has been so meaningful in 2023. He’s the club’s best option with low time because he can win his matchup at will.

Assisted shots are better shots than unassisted ones. The numbers prove what the eye test suggests with the league-average 30.8% shooting percentage on assisted shots trumping the 23.5% success rate on unassisted shots. 

But Connor Fields has never been someone who subscribes to the law of averages. In fact his play blatantly spits in the face of most statistical certainties. 

This season Fields has shot an absurd 37.8% on five unassisted shots per game (45 total). Not only is that raw efficiency nearly unheard of, but to do it on that type of volume shouldn’t be possible. He’s taken the third most unassisted shots in the league yet is converting at a 14.3% higher clip than the league average! Not a single player who’s taken 30 or more unassisted shots is even within 5% of his conversion rate. 

But how does he do it? How is he so efficient in scenarios where almost every other player in a league exploding with talent struggles? 

What separates Fields most notably is how strong he is and, specifically, how strong his core is when battling in tight against the strongest defenders. He might not have the stature of a Zed Williams or a Matt Rambo, but the way he leans into defenders, absorbs contact, moves to space, and then maneuvers in tight spaces with crafty footwork and devious stick skills is unparalleled.

Numerous moments during the play above it looks as though Fields was stuffed by two-time DPOY Matt Dunn. Yet he keeps working, keeps digging his shoulder into Dunn’s chest, and eventually gets Dunn to over-commit to preventing topside before rolling inside and diving across the crease to beat Brendan Krebs

There are realistically fewer than five players in the world who can make that play against that quality of a defender, and that is what is so unique about Fields’ game. There’s nobody better than him around the crease. He’s sturdy, but shifty. Slick, but balanced. Relentless, yet also infinitely creative. He’s the perfect player to rely on when the clock is low because he will almost always be able to generate a good shot no matter how the defense plays him. The lefty wing is his canvas, and the pictures that the Michelangelo of the lacrosse world paints are stunning.

“Connor has been dominant this season,” said Tom Schreiber after last week’s win versus Whipsnakes when Fields put up four goals and two assists. “He’s been impossible to cover, and I would imagine those late clock goals are pretty demoralizing for a defense.” 

Even beyond goals in the last 10 seconds of possessions, Fields has had an immeasurable impact on the Archers’ 32-second offense. Now that he’s permanently at attack, his dodging presence has been a critical component of the club being far and away the PLL’s most efficient 32-second offense

Sitting next to Fields in the postgame presser, Schreiber, added that “I think a lot of the reason we’ve had some success there is because we have Connor on our team. I don’t know if we have the greatest scheme.” He continued, smiling and squeezing Fields’ bicep before stating that “I think we just have a guy who can get to the rack and really muscle his way in physically. I don’t know how he does it. Connor’s a stud. He’s the hardest guy to cover in the league in my opinion, and I’m certainly glad he’s on our team.” 

Fields gave a glimpse into what was to come throughout this summer back in the season opener against the Cannons. The clock winding down on the first half meant the Archers got the ball to Fields on the lefty wing, and he matter-of-factly produced a SportsCenter Top Ten goal.

What’s so hard to guard here isn’t even the between-the-legs shot that garnered all the attention. It’s the fact that, after his initial dodge, Fields still re-dodged three more times before finding the space necessary to get a shot off. With his stick skills, not much space is needed. 

He's such an exhausting player to defend because he rarely ever settles or stops his dodges without creating a shot. Fields' relentlessness is unlike any other's, and his stamina to dodge and re-dodge repeatedly wears defenders down until they make a mistake.

All the pieces of the puzzle need to come together to win a championship in this uber-talented league, and Fields is a massive piece for the Archers as the best closer in the PLL. He has all the physical and mental traits that one could ask for to crush defenses after playing nearly a minute of stout defense, and that’s what makes him such a late shot clock cheat code. 

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