Projecting the Archers LC Roster for the 2024 Championship Series
By Zach Carey | Nov 8, 2023
As the dust settles on the Archers Lacrosse Club’s first PLL title, the staff will begin to look ahead to the league’s Championship Series this coming February. Whereas the Archers’ 12-man Champ Series roster in 2023 was heavy on offensive weapons, the 2024 group will likely rely on its strength defensively and then hope for production from a number of relatively young offensive stars.
There’s still plenty up in the air regarding who will fill out the Archers’ 12-man roster come February. But, for now, here’s a projection of the guys most likely to be competing at the St. James starting on February 14th.
After a summer when he spent the majority of the regular season playing midfield before transitioning back to attack in the playoffs, Grant Ament should be even more comfortable playing above the cage for the Archers this winter. He actually led the 2023 Champ Series in assists with 14 and was third in points with 27 in four games played.
In a format that can be so driven by isolation goals, Ament keeps the ball moving. Especially for a group that lacks some of the individual star power and ability to win one-on-one, he will be critical for generating opportunities for his teammates to attack an unsettled defense. Ament has always operated well in tight spaces, and he knows how to utilize his quickness and elite footwork to create separation. In the Sixes format and against short stick defenders 100% of the time, that will be invaluable for an Archers offense that will rely on him as an initiator.
Matt Moore will bring the oomph for the Archers’ Champ Series roster this go around. He scored 16 points and canned three 2-pointers for the club last February and will take on a bigger role on the team in 2024. He’s a capable two-way player with the physicality and riding experience to make him one of the better defenders among offensive players. It’s his dodging presence that will dynamicize the Archers’ Sixes offense. He’s always been an elite at shooting through contact, and on a smaller field against short stick defenders, he should thrive once again.
Just as he’s the glue that keeps the Archers’ regular season offense together, veteran Ryan Ambler should do the same in the 2024 Championship Series. He can excel as a picker, an off-ball threat, an occasional step-down shooter, and a downhill dodger while also bringing his typical absurd effort level to the defensive side of the ball. After registering 10 points with eight 1-point goals and two assists last year, he’ll likely take on a more prominent role within the offense with Will Manny and Marcus Holman gone.
If there’s a definite 2-point threat on this 12-man roster, it’ll be Ryan Aughavin. The second-year midfielder out of Brown stepped up when the club dealt with injuries late in the regular season. In the Archers’ final three games of the summer — the regular season finale versus Waterdogs, the semifinals versus Redwoods, and the Cash App Championship versus the ‘Dogs — Aughavin combined for seven points including two 2-pointers.
In the inaugural Champ Series, Aughavin was one of the Archers’ biggest producers with 17 points including four 2-bombs and a 50% shooting success rate on such shots. Following a quiet rookie season when he played in just two games, that was a breakout week for him. Now that he’s firmly established his professional footing with an impressive summer, he should be one of the cornerstones of the Archers’ attack in Sixes in 2024. His field-stretching presence and ability to dodge downhill will be difference makers for the club in February.
Connor DeSimone is another player, like Aughavin, who wasn’t on the active 19-man roster for the Archers much in the regular season, but who got a big opportunity in Champ Series last February. After putting up 10 points (five 1-point goals, five assists) in four Sixes games in 2023, he’ll be counted on for an even bigger role this time around after Holman and Manny departed in free agency. The slippery attackman from Johns Hopkins proved he wasn’t a liability defensively, and his ability to get underneath defenders was a point of strength for the club in 2023.
Unnamed free agent offensive player
The Archers will likely be looking to add a sixth offensive player to their roster for Champ Series. They could go all in defensively and add, say, LSM Reece Eddy as a fifth defender. But for a format that favors shooters, it seems inevitable that Archers Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates will add an offensive threat from the player pool.
What this group needs is an outside shooter. Aughavin and Moore provide that in some respect. But, among the options available to the Archers to add, shooting should be the priority considering that this group has the initiators to make the offense go. They could also probably use someone to play in two-man games on the lefty wing with Ambler the only lefty among the club’s true offensive options listed above.
Kyle Borda is one name that could be worth watching. His player type in general is one that would fit for this roster. The 6’4” righty midfielder out of Ohio State played two games for the Waterdogs this summer before being released to the player pool in July. He’s a capable dodger who can hit stepdown shots comfortably with either hand and plays well in space off ball and in two-man games.
Christian Mazzone is another name to keep an eye on. He played in the Championship Series for Atlas LC last winter and also played for the Archers in the bubble in 2020, scoring nine goals in six games. He’s a much smaller, much shiftier player than Borda and has been best as an invert threat in the outdoor game. He scored eight 1-point goals on 67% shooting in five games for Atlas LC last February, so he has experience in Sixes, something very few players do.
There are few pure short stick defensive midfielders better suited for Sixes than Connor Maher. Among SSDMs in the 2023 regular season, he tied for the third most points with five one point goals and an assist. He was a fiend on fast breaks, slow breaks, and even in the substitution game as he displayed his playmaking ability and quality decisionmaking chops with the ball in his stick.
Defensively he might not have been as lights out of an individual defender as his short stick linemates. But for a rookie SSDM to come in and not only contribute but help stabilize a championship defense riddled by injury indicates he’ll be fine adapting to a new format. He could also contribute to two-man games on the lefty wing considering the team is a bit short on lefties and he has the stick skills. And, of course, his hustle is unmatched and will continue to be clutch for the Archers no matter the format.
Piper Bond was practically a fifth pole for the Archers in the 2023 regular season, and he’ll likely bring his lockdown individual defense to Sixes. While he doesn’t quite have the stick skills of fellow rookie Maher, he makes the right decisions on offense and can provide value in transition as a passer. Sixes could provide him a great opportunity to get more comfortable in communicating through two-man games and taking on matchups against some of the best offensive talents in the world.
Following a stellar 2023 regular season which included Jared Conners scoring his first two career outdoor goals (both from 2-point range), he’ll likely return to Sixes after an impressive first run at the Champ Series. He notched three points including two 1-point goals and an assist alongside three caused turnovers and 11 ground balls in four games in D.C. back in February. His versatility and size will once again be valuable for the Archers, especially in 2024 for a roster that will have to butter its bread on the defensive side of the ball.
Presuming that Jon Robbins is healthy enough to compete after missing the back half of the 2023 regular season with a knee injury, he’ll be a key returner for this Archers Champ Series team. The second pole on the roster alongside Conners in February, he scored three 1-point goals and added six caused turnovers. He’s a solid two-way option who obviously can anchor the defense but also make plays with the ball in his stick.
Nick Washuta has proven himself to be a capable PLL goalie both in a few outdoor appearances this past regular season, and in the Champ Series where his 38% save rate was fourth among goalies. With how goalies are shelled in Sixes, Washuta won’t be the only netminder to get minutes this February. But the lefty Vermont product is a reliable starter between the pipes and has something very few keepers have: experience in Sixes.
Unnamed free agent goalie
Like the club will likely have to add an offensive piece, it’ll also need another goalie to fill out the 12-man roster. Goalies who’ve recently been on PLL rosters but are currently in the player pool include Mike Adler (formerly with Chaos), Jason Rose (Waterdogs), and Matt Kilkeary (Redwoods). Someone in that group could fill out a spot of need behind Washuta and take up some minutes in cage to spell him from the onslaught of shots all keepers take in Sixes.