To finally pass the test, Archers created a new lesson plan

By Josh Schafer | Jun 24, 2022

Matt Moore still has homework. Less than a month removed from college, the recent master’s school graduate hasn’t moved on from the late nights studying and reporting back to his professor. 

Only outside of the Princeton pedigree, Mr. Schreiber isn’t your typical college instructor. The nine-year pro lacrosse veteran allows his students to file assignments via email and there are no hard deadlines. 

Just submit before the 8 p.m. call on Wednesday night. Oh, and don’t miss that call. That’s a non-negotiable, and punishment in the PLL could be more costly than detention.

Since joining Archers Lacrosse Club in late May, Moore’s filed his homework to an email chain started by Schreiber. The students follow along and file their thoughts from each game one-by-one leading into Wednesday’s lecture, an all inclusive think session more akin to a free-flowing philosophy discussion than a statistics course. 

“It's player driven where Marcus (Holman) and the veterans are speaking up with what they can do because a lot of these guys are coaches so they really know what they're talking about,” Moore, the rookie, says. “There's a limit to the zoom call for an hour but I think it could go on to four plus hours with the amount of insight we have. But yeah (Archers head coach Chris Bates) has cut it off at an hour.”

The weekly Wednesday night zooms aren’t completely new  but their frequency sure is. In the past, Archers players have felt engaged. They felt together. But still, come August and September the once promising start has morphed to an early playoff exit. On a roster full of players on expiring contracts, Archers players hope the consistency of these weekly Zooms can change their narrative from a team that pops water bottle champagne in the regular season to the team drinking Pink Whitney while hoisting the trophy in September. 

We're not getting any younger and this might be our last shot at this thing together with that kind of veteran core group,” Holman says. “So we're just doing our best to try and be our best." 

The Archers have been successful in spurts over the PLL’s first three seasons. Their offense was the most efficient in the PLL during the 2021 season. Leading into Saturday night’s matchup with Atlas on ESPN+ in Baltimore, the club is finishing nearly every other possession with a goal.

But spend a minute talking to an Archers’ veteran and they’ll note those stats are fleeting. Last season Archers started 3-0 before finishing the season 2-5 down the stretch. In the end, June doesn’t matter. In the end, it’s no different than anything else. The Archers, like the rest of us, are measured on how they finish. An early playoff exit just doesn’t cut it. 

“I think it's good to go through different phases as the season goes along,” Holman said. “I think last year, jumping out to a 3-0 record I think we kind of peaked too early if that makes sense and weren't really able to work through adversity very well last summer and you know kind of faltered down the stretch.” 

This year’s Archers club wraps up the first month of the season with different perspective than year’s past, in part because of injuries. Attackman Grant Ament, last year’s PLL points leader, hasn’t played a game yet. Rookies like Moore and Connor DeSimone have stepped up in his place, something the veterans hope could help add scoring depth down the stretch.

Holman and Will Manny likened the youngster’s stepping up to this year’s NBA Champion Warriors. When push comes to shove, the veterans will be able to fill the goal up, but it might take an outstanding performance from Andrew Wiggins or Jordan Poole to ensure the team is in championship clinching position.

There’s been a physical shift, too. Holman and Manny, long known as the Bunk Bed Boys, don’t live together anymore. Their apartment film sessions now happen over Zoom, with the rest of the team listening in with them. Holman thinks the move has helped the pair think differently. 

When they lived together coaching at Utah, they did everything together. It became a bit of groupthink, Holman says, where the star attackmen agreed almost too often. The move’s shifted that perspective. 

The veteran’s seeing the game a bit different now and making sure to tell the rookies about it. Sometimes it’s a joke in the email chain about Will Manny behind-the-back goal one player dubbed “the slowest in professional lacrosse history.” Other times it’s serious. It’s a thread from Ryan Ambler about the offense that piques Moore’s interest. Or a post game text from Schreiber telling Moore to “demand the ball like you did at Virginia. We’ll have your back.”

Moore and DeSimone sit third and fourth on the team in the points. The Archers offense just tallied more than 20 points for the second time ever. Things seem to be rolling. But June ends soon. August is around the corner. 

Archers players are hopeful the new weekly commitments will get them over the hump and past that dreaded month of August. They’re hopeful for some emails on the thread in September and a call on Wednesday on September 14 leading into championship weekend. They’re hopeful that this year, one that could be their last together, can end differently.

“Who's going to do the little things to overcome,” Manny remarks about what needs to happen the rest of the season. “And I don't think the Archers as an organization we've done a great job of that in the past, of adjusting. And now we're ready for it. That's trust from the coaches and from the players. That's the difference that I think will continue to push us forward and motivate us.”