Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

Tre Leclaire: The Archers’ two-way weapon

By Daniel May | Sep 18, 2023

Tre Leclaire is no longer just a defensive midfielder who thrives between the lines. All season long, he made his presence felt on the offensive side of the field, showcasing his monstrous shot that plagued college goalies during his four years in Columbus. 

This season has been the best year of Leclaire’s PLL career so far, producing career-highs in points (19), 1-pt goals (13), and assists (4).

His breakthrough as an offensive midfielder is a testament to his confidence on the field. He has endless range and a physically imposing frame that will get his hands free anytime he puts a shoulder into his defender. By putting those two together and attacking the SSDM matchup he gets due to a loaded Archers midfield, he’s become yet another threat opposing teams have to gameplan for.  

Hammer Time

During his time at Ohio State, Leclaire was known for his blistering shot and knack for scoring. His transition to the PLL resulted in him taking on a defensive midfield role, which limited his offensive production and chances in transition.

This season, playing offensive midfield has allowed him to take the next step in his career,  asserting himself as an offensive threat to be reckoned with. Anytime 44 in orange has his hands free, Archers have the advantage. You can’t give him an inch of space, or else Leclaire gets a quality look that goalies have barely any time to react to.

In last weekend’s 14-6 semifinal victory over the Redwoods, Leclaire capitalized in that fashion. Ryan Ambler was attacking a short-stick matchup from the top of the two-point arc, which made the Redwoods very aggressive to slide. Chaos ensued and Leclaire was able to lose his defender off of a looping cut to free up space for Ambler. The defender hedged too much off of Leclaire which put nobody within 5 yards of the big man, resulting in a hands-free 2-pt shot.

And as opposing defenders have quickly learned, his cannon of a shot makes him a scoring threat at all times.

The Schreiber – Leclaire Connection 

Playing alongside 3x Jim Brown MVP Tom Schreiber has allowed Leclaire to exhibit that shooting prowess. Schreiber makes defenses slide consistently, resulting in plenty of moments for Leclaire to get his hands free.

The Schreiber-Leclaire connection started in the season opener and has carried on throughout the season. 

In Archers' 16-13 win in Albany, Leclaire made the Cannons pay for losing him inside. Schreiber was dodging from the top center and all the attention defensively was centered around who would slide to him. With Leclaire in the middle, his defender was the designated slide. Archers ran a simple exchange with Leclaire, which freed him up for a 12-yard step-down.

Schreiber and Leclaire have put together a lethal two-man game from the right wing. Leclaire’s lone goal in their 12-7 win against Chrome in Charlotte was a result of a two-man game with Schreiber.

The two of them were covered by SSDMs, which proved an ideal time to isolate that matchup on the top right corner at the edge of the 2-pt arc. Schreiber swept over top and Leclaire popped wide to the right, creating a good shooting opportunity. Once Schreiber dumped the ball to Leclaire, the Chrome defender jumped out to take away the chance. Taking advantage of a bad approach, Leclaire used his size to hitch and get overtop. Being bear-hugged by the defender, Leclaire was still able to get the shot off while falling to the ground. 

Expect these two to connect for a few goals in the Cash App Championship on Sunday in Philadelphia. 

Leclaire as a dodger

Leclaire’s role within the Archers offense isn’t limited to a step-down shooter. Since he attracts a short stick matchup, given Archers have many dangerous threats at midfield that attract the LSM, Leclaire becomes an ideal dodging option.

His 6’2, 211 lbs frame is hard to match up against when he gets a head of steam going his way. 

In their regular season matchup against the Redwoods Week in Fairfield back in July, Leclaire made his presence felt as a dodger. He bombed onto the field and got the feed from his teammate. Without any hesitation, he swept over top and got downhill, keeping the momentum he generated from his head of steam out of the box. Although the short-stick defender was with him the whole way, Leclaire is just too strong to throw off his line. He still got off the shot and beat the goalie with a hefty high-to-low rip. 

You can’t stop a freight train. 

That same game, Leclaire isolated his matchup from the center of the box. He drove to his right and rolled to his left, which forced the defender to open up his hips. Getting the defender to over-commit to his left hand, Leclaire rolled back to his right and got a shot off from just inside the two-point arc before the slide could get to him. 

Leclaire utilizes his size as a part of his approach when attacking his matchup. He can sweep over top, get downhill, or get physical with his defender to set his feet for a shot.

All in all, he’s no longer just a defensive midfielder who takes chances in transition. With Leclaire’s rise in 2023 as a key offensive midfielder for Archers, he can impact the game in nearly every facet.