Why Latrell Harris Has Become the Heart and Soul of the Archers
When Latrell Harris joined the Archers in 2021 he had a pair of cagey, heralded veterans to help guide him in the professional lacrosse world after he turned pro straight out of high school. Now, in his third year in the PLL and his second consecutive season as an All-Star, Harris has become the veteran presence among the Archers short-stick defensive midfielders.
“He’s had a great comfort level with Dominique [Alexander] and Mark [McNeill],” says Archers Head Coach Chris Bates. “But now he looks to his left and to his right and he’s got two puppies that are right out of college. I think it’s that time of his career. From a leadership perspective it’s been gratifying to see him searching for that next step.”
Latrell Harris Mentoring Connor Maher and Piper Bond
The two puppies — rookie SSDMs Connor Maher and Piper Bond — have been Harris’ responsibility through the first half of the season, and all three have done well especially with how much the Archers defense relies on them to win difficult individual assignments.
Harris in particular is only improving on a stellar start to his still young career. In five games this season the Canadian has caused five turnovers (surpassing his 2022 total of four), picked up 13 ground balls (relative to 2022’s 18), and has been a critical piece of the club’s power-play-kill, faceoff, and clearing units.
“It’s a thankless, important, and underrated position,” adds Bates. “Latrell is just one of the best out there. Physically he just continues to mature. His confidence has grown and he’s just been that much more consistent. He’s dialed into a game plan and he’s executing it.”
Along with his individual performance, Harris has been the perfect role model on and off the field for Bond and Maher. “If they’re following Latrell around and following his lead, that’s a good example he’s setting,” notes Bates. “He’s just such a sweetheart of a young man so seeing him assume some next level responsibilities is fun.”
In Harris’ footsteps, the Archers’ pair of “puppies” have thrived. Bond is dominating his matchups, only allowing 13.3% (2-for-15) shooting from opponents when he’s the closest defender. Maher has been more susceptible to being beaten when the Archers switch big-little picks. But that’s a result of the club being unwavering in its willingness to leave shorties on an island. And, importantly, the 13th overall pick has made up for any mistakes on the defensive end by producing in transition with three goals and an assist in just five games.
“They’re executing at a high level,” says Bates of his second and third round selections in the 2023 College Draft. “They’re into the game, they’re thoughtful, and they communicate well. So they’ve been really good additions, it’s been a very pleasant surprise. We’re very comfortable and confident with those guys on a half field set.”
Latrell Harris’ growing role in the Archers locker room
The offseason departures of Alexander, McNeill, Scott Ratliff, Adam Ghitelman, Will Manny, and Marcus Holman have left a leadership void for the club, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Where Harris’ impact stands out is as that developing leader in the locker room who can set an example for younger players, just like the veterans before him. It's been up to young stars like Harris to step up into leadership positions, and he’s done it flawlessly.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” says Matt McMahon, matter of factly. “The way he carries himself off the field is just so humble, so kind and respectful of whoever he’s interacting with whether it be a teammate, a coach, or staff at the kitchen. He’s a really charismatic guy and he cares a lot about everyone who he interacts with.”
That authenticity and kindness translates on the field and in the locker room. McMahon adds that Harris “is somebody a lot of people in the locker room look up to because he is so well loved by his teammates and so respected on the field. He’s one of the hardest workers in the league. He’s quiet, super team-oriented. But, man, he’s definitely one of the best players in the PLL right now.”
The Archers defense is allowing goals on just 25% of possessions at the All Star Break, which would be good for seventh since 2019 if the season ended today. Harris has played a major role in the Archers’ success, and his role as the team’s heart and soul will undoubtedly remain critical as the league’s first place club searches for its first championship.