Matchup Preview: Ament vs. Rowlett

By Sarah Griffin | Sep 9, 2022

The Archers and Chaos meet again in the postseason for the third time in league history in the semifinals this weekend in Washington D.C.

The Chaos have been a sort of kryptonite for the Archers in the past, especially come playoffs. They knocked them out of the Championship Series in 2020 in the bubble in the semifinals, and then last season in the first round with a 13-10 Chaos victory in the quarterfinals. 

While the narratives may be flowing off the field about the Archers needing to get over the playoff hump and that infamous Chaos postseason magic, one matchup in particular on the field has been must-see lacrosse for the last few years now between these two teams.

Grant Ament and Jack Rowlett have gone head-to-head with one another five times throughout their professional careers. Two fiery competitors, the reigning Attackman of the Year calls it one of his favorite matchups.

“He’s probably one of – if not the – toughest matchup for me one-on-one. Jack does a great job of trying to disrupt the dodge, disrupt the dodger, and be the aggressor and make plays. He’s an insane athlete and he wants to make a play, to a fault at times,” he laughs. 

Ament compared Rowlett’s game to his college teammate and now LSM for the Waterdogs’ Chris Sabia’s. Two defenders with gifted athletic abilities, Ament called them the two best defensemen he’s ever faced. He said his approach when covered by Rowlett is to be “as annoying as humanly possible,” just like he was when matched up with Sabia at Penn State during practice.

“Putting Jack in positions to defend those big-little picks, and putting him in slide positions and things like that, really just anything to be as annoying as humanly possible to cover, that’s what I try to do,” Ament said.

Rowlett described his own defensive approach as not exactly the most technically sound, and a “bit funky,” but his unorthodox ways have certainly proved successful over the course of his career. 

Chaos head coach Andy Towers denotes three major facets of Rowlett’s defense: his competitive drive, his athleticism, and his defensive IQ.

“Jack has a lot of incredible attributes about him. I would say number one, he’s the most competitive [expletive] on the planet - his compete level is otherworldly. Take that intangible combined with his natural-born athleticism and IQ as an individual defenseman, you’re looking at the top defender on the planet.”

Speaking specifically to his defensive IQ, Towers mentioned Rowlett’s understanding of angles as well as identifying the weaknesses of his assignments and how best to exploit those weaknesses within the landscape of the Chaos’s defensive schemes, both on- and off-ball. 

The Chaos defensive unit as a whole has been categorized as this scrappy, pesky group of guys who always rise to the occasion when it matters most. 

“It starts with Blaze [Riorden] in cage,” said Archers head coach Chris Bates. “He’s one of the best ones out there and a tough nut to crack. Getting the ball by him, having him anchor their defense is certainly a strength. As a whole, I think the Chaos do a good job of mixing and matching their defensive strategies. They typically don’t stay status quo, each game they’ve got a little bit of a different adjustment they’ve made and individually they’re obviously very talented…Rowlett’s relentless. He’s such a fiery competitor. He’s got good feet, he’s really aggressive, and he’s not afraid to get all up in your kitchen.” 

“My game’s always to put more pressure on the attackman than they put on me,” remarked Rowlett. “A lot of times people defensively get caught in the mindset of having to react to everything you’re matched up with, so I like to go out and try to make them react to what I do instead.”

With Ament, that’s something certainly easier said than done.

“With a guy that’s as athletic and talented as Grant is, if you just try to react to everything he does, you aren’t going to be able to catch up and respond to every single move.”

There’s not much Ament can’t do. A multidimensional threat as Coach Bates described him, he’s an initiator, he’s a dodger, and he’s a dynamic feeder. 

Sidelined with injury to start the season, Ament played in only five games in the regular season but still tied for 7th in the league in the regular season in assists with 11. The Archers’ offense ranked number one in assisted opportunities in the regular season, with an assist rate of 54.8%. 

With such a stacked lineup, having Ament on attack and Tom Schreiber in the midfield makes for what seems like unlimited opportunities for this versatile offense. 

“Adding Matt Moore to our lineup and bumping Fieldsy down gives us a little bit more of a dodging presence out of guys that aren’t the numbers 16 or 26,” said Ament. “Taking that off of me and Tom and allowing some things to open up outside of us dodging, specifically Tom, gives him some support and takes that pressure off him also forcing defenses to slide. You look at Moore, you look at [Ryan] Ambler, [Connor] Fields, you look at all these guys, you know if you put a short stick on any of those guys they’re going to find the goal.” 

Coach Towers reiterated the same of the Archers’ O. 

“They have so many guys that can do so many different things. You’ve got Ambler and Moore who I think are incredible dodge and score threats, a catch-and-finish threat in Will Manny, Marcus Holman who’s arguably the most accurate shooter in the world, and then Ament, Schreiber, and Fields who can all score or feed off the dodge. Their offense really have no weaknesses.” 

He also emphasized the dynamic nature of Ament’s game, especially as a feeder.

“He’s a complete playmaker. He can dodge and score five goals, but he can also record five assists; he’s a perfect passer. He sees all five guys off-ball, and can deliver the pass to all five guys off-ball at all times.”

Two fierce competitors and athletes, neither Ament nor Rowlett are too concerned with the narratives surrounding their teams entering this matchup.

“It’s hard not to address the elephant in the room,” said Ament. “But with that being said, we were all excited when we got in that locker room after the Redwoods game on Saturday because we understood you can’t really write this up better. If we were going to go through somebody three times in a year, it’s going to be the team that’s knocked us out the past two years. So we’re excited for it but at the end of the day, we’re focused on us being the first ones to punch out there playing with extremely high energy, and focusing internally on the connection of the group.”

As for the Chaos? Eloquent as always, Coach Towers said it best.

“We couldn’t have more respect for Grant Ament. I’m a fan of his game, I love watching his game, but that being said I hope Jack shuts his ass down on Sunday. This isn’t about the Archers, and last weekend wasn’t about the Chrome. This is about Chaos. It’s about us eliminating the opportunity for anybody outside of our locker room to write how the end of our season goes.” 

The Archers and Chaos will meet for the third time in the postseason with a trip to the championship on the line on Sunday at 3:30 ET on ESPN+.