Grant Ament Attack

Film study: How Grant Ament is back at his very best at attack

By Zach Carey

Sep 12, 2023

In eight regular season games this summer, Grant Ament scored just 13 points. That was a career low in the regular season for the Penn State product, even lower than his 16 points in five appearances in 2022. 

He’s continued to deal with a left hamstring strain that he re-aggravated in the season opener against the Cannons. Since then, the less than fully healthy Ament has mostly come out of the box for the Archers. 

The value Ament has brought as a teammate

Through the struggles with his injury and a position change that he eventually got the hold of, his attention was always on contributing to winning in whatever form that took. 

“I think that’s all you need to know about him, more as a person,” says Mac O’Keefe, touching on how meaningful Ament’s commitment to winning has been. “A player of his caliber, given the success he’s had over the years, going through some injuries and then struggling to get into his groove, but just embracing the role of playing a little midfield, playing a little attack, doing anything that the coaches have been asking of him.” 

“It speaks volumes,” adds Brett Dobson. “It’s a thankless job to really go out there and [play out of position]. I thought he did a great job and being a great teammate is what he’s all about. I haven’t heard him complain about it once.” 

With the bye week the Archers earned as the one seed that allowed Ament to get healthier, Matt Moore’s nagging hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup late in the regular season, and Latrell Harris’ season-ending ACL injury that has forced Challen Rogers and Tre Leclaire to dedicate more time in the intermediate areas of the field, Ament moved back down to his natural position against the Redwoods in the semifinals. 

And he straight up balled. 

After registering just those 13 points in eight regular season games, Ament matched more than half of that total on Sunday with eight points. He scored two 1-point goals, dished out four assists, and notched his second career 2-pointer to ice the game when the ‘Woods pressed out in the fourth quarter. 

But it’s how Ament was so effective that stands out and suggests that he can replicate similar levels of production in two weeks’ time against the Waterdogs in the PLL Cash App Championship. 

Grant Ament at attack = assists galore

Ament playing attack on Sunday meant that he touched the ball more. His 42 touches against the Redwoods were the most he’s had since the last time he played close to an entire game at attack — versus the Cannons all the way back on June 3rd in Albany. Naturally, he initiated the ofense more and was able to pick apart the ‘Woods defense as a passer, something no other Archers attackman can do quite as well as him. 

Late in the first quarter, Ament uses a Connor Maher pick at X to get his hands free as he drives upfield. His teammates know to move to space when he’s dodging because he’ll find them, and that's exactly what Connor Fields does, popping left after overlapping with O’Keefe. With Ament’s vision and Fields’ ability to place the ball, that’s simply too easy.

Ament’s vision and commitment to keeping his eyes upfield when carrying the ball is what stands out there. It’s not that other Archers attackmen don’t do that, it’s just that Ament is so dialed into the off-ball movements of his teammates that a slight mental lapse  — coming from Eddy Glazener on the play above — is all it takes for him to beat you. 

How Ament is back to his 2021 form

That said, it was Ament’s ability to put the ball in the back of the net himself versus the Redwoods that’s so reminiscent of his play before dealing with a string of hamstring injuries. 

In the 2023 regular season, Ament shot a poor 1-for-19 (5.3%) on unassisted shots. That 5.3% shooting success rate on unassisted shots (that are off a dodge, off a pick, or off a ground ball) was second worst in the league. 

In 2021 — when Ament was the league’s Attackman of the Year and when he last played in all 10 regular season games — he shot a far better 38.2% (13-for-34) on unassisted shots. In fact that success rate was tied with Paul Rabil’s for the third best in the league among players who took at least two unassisted shots per game. 

On Sunday we all saw the Ament of old reemerge. He shot 2-for-3 on unassisted shots, exploiting the ‘Woods defense in the pick game with his immediate change of direction, lightning quick feet, and perfected footwork proving to be too much for Nat St. Laurent’s club. 

Ament got it going early and often. On the Archers’ second possession of the game, he dodges into a Moore pick, losing his defender in the process and creating the space necessary to rip the lefty shot past Jack Kelly.

Ament’s explosion out of the pick is what is so hard to defend here. Moore sets the perfect screen and the Archers trapping Charlie Bertrand on defense certainly helped. But the way Ament burst upfield and then managed to turn his hips to produce a quality shot with his off hand while fading upfield suggests that he’s very much back to his best. 

From then on out the Redwoods defense was quick to switch any pick Ament came off of where he generated any sort of separation. In the third quarter he used a nearly identical screen as the one Moore set in the first quarter. But this time the ‘Woods communicated effectively, switching SSDM Chris Merle onto Ament and trusting their stout short stick defender to contain the sparky attackman in an awkwards area of the field with the shot clock winding down. 

But Ament is simply too good. He backs Merle out, redodges by crossing over to his right, digs his shoulder into Merle’s chest, and fires a low-angle, upper-left stinger past Kelly while falling to the turf. 

Part of what makes Ament so good is the ability he has to operate in tight spaces with low angles. He’s elite at contorting his body to get a shot off when fading in an opposite direction, and his high speed change of direction can produce a step on even the quickest defenders. 

At his best Ament presents an impossible decision for defenses in the two-man game. Fight over the pick and he’ll fly past, force help, and dissect a 4-on-3 on the backside. Try to slip under the screen and his straight line speed will simply be faster. Hard hedge or double him and he’ll either split the two defenders or roll to find his open teammate. Switch and he’ll blow by a short stick no matter how little space he has to operate with. 

A fully healthy Ament is one of the most dynamic players in professional lacrosse, and the Archers were already the best team in the league before he found his groove again. Now that he’s comfortable and at full strength again within an offense that knows how to cater to his skills and has the pieces to support him, the Archers’ offense boasts yet another problem for an opposing defense to solve. 

That will be crucial against the Waterdogs in Ament’s hometown of Philadelphia two Sundays from now. Connor Fields’ shoulder injury that has cast his status for the Championship into question means that Ament’s reemergence couldn’t have come at a better time. For the Archers to win the club’s first championship they’ll need Ament to play like the former no. 1 overall pick he is. After Sunday’s performance, all signs indicate he’ll do that and more. 

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