Matt Moore Attack

Why Matt Moore’s move to attack makes the Archers lethal

By Zach Carey

Aug 5, 2023

When Archers Lacrosse Club Head Coach and General Manager Chris Bates texted Matt Moore to tell him that he’d be filling in for the injured Grant Ament at attack in the club’s July 9th contest against the Whipsnakes, Moore’s response ended with three exclamation points. 

“I am comfortable at midfield, but getting another shot [at attack] was just exciting,” Moore says. “You get to be on the field more, have more communication, and take on more of a leadership role.”

That weekend, Moore scored four goals on eight shots and led the Archers to a 15-12 win against the Whips. The Virginia product started at attack against the Redwoods the following week despite Ament’s return from injury, but he only registered six touches before a left hamstring strain took him out of the game. 

He stormed back into the fold this past Sunday, once again getting the start at attack alongside Mac O’Keefe and Connor Fields. Moore hit the back of the net twice and added a pair of assists enroute to the club’s thrilling 19-18 win over the Waterdogs. 

Moore has been making his presence felt at attack. He’s scored 11 points in the three games (including versus Chaos after Ament re-injured his hamstring) that he’s played heavy minutes at attack.

This isn’t a surprising development for anyone who’s at all familiar with the Philadelphia native’s career. Moore’s move from midfield to attack at Virginia paid major dividends. He scored 34 points at midfield as a freshman, but then moved to attack for his final three years as a Cavalier. In that time span he broke UVA’s single season and all-time points record and won a pair of National Championships, cementing himself among the best to ever don the orange and blue. 

Now, in year two of the PLL, will a similar move to attack lead to similar degrees of success? 

“I see what you’re trying to do there,” Moore says, laughing in response to the leading question. “The PLL is different, it’s a different style. You have to experiment and be quick with your dodges. It takes a lot of adjusting.” 

He adds that “things can change,” with how the Archers use their offensive personnel. “That’s what makes our team so great, we’re so interchangeable. Depending on the game we might match up better with Grant at attack and me at midfield or me at attack and Grant at midfield.”

Where Moore has been so good for the Archers has been as a physical dodger who can create offense immediately. “It’s just a little bit more of a thump,” says Bates of what Moore brings to the Archers’ attack. “Those two goals [against the Waterdogs], he just puts his shoulder in and you can’t read [his shot]. Those were big boy goals, plus he distributes the ball. Matt’s the real deal.” 

Moore has specifically been crucial in the Archers’ 32-second offense, and playing him on attack has allowed the club to initiate high quality offense quickly with his and Connor Fields’ dodging presence providing an immediate threat. Five of Moore’s nine goals this season have come in 32-second possessions. 

“With the shot clock you need to have a sense of urgency to go towards the nets and be a threat,” Moore says. “I think that’s something I'm good at, posing a threat early in possessions.” 

The Archers have repeatedly gone to Moore in short-clock scenarios, especially off faceoff wins like in the possession below. Against the Waterdogs, the Archers offense came out of halftime in its 2-2-2 pairs set with Moore dodging off a Challen Rogers pick behind. What’s so impressive about this play is how the second year pro creates a quality shot without getting any real separation from his defender.

It’s Moore’s willingness to initiate contact that has served him and the offense so well, and it’s something that he continues to emphasize more and more. “When I was younger and growing up, I banked on being quick,” he notes. “As I grew, something I learned as a freshman and sophomore in college is that it’s all about balance. If you’re balanced and the defender isn't, if you can get into him, he doesn’t have the opportunity to push you away.” 

“It’s something I learned as I adopted my body and gained weight,” he adds. “I started to experiment with the mentality of ‘Why run around my defender when I can go through them while shooting in that process?’”

Moore is a nightmare for defenses to contain. Take his second goal against the Waterdogs as an additional example. After getting his defender Ben Randall hung up, he meets Randall roughly three yards up and over from the goal and then rips a high to low shot past Matt DeLuca with absurd ease. Realistically, all Randall could’ve done better would’ve been to get hands on Moore closer to goal-line-extended, but even then Moore’s strength might’ve won out via an inside roll.

It’s plays like these that highlight why Moore has scored the fourth most unassisted goals in the league and why his 29.2% shooting percentage on unassisted shots is fifth among players with 20 or more unassisted attempts.  

There’s more to Moore’s game that makes him such a dynamic player who can thrive at various spots on the field. He passes well with elite vision, and he can manipulate the two-man game at a high level from up top, on the wing, or behind the goal because of his two-handedness and experience playing in different areas of the field. But it’s his aggressiveness going at the cage that has given the Archers’ offense such a boost since he moved to attack, and that’s why he should stay there for the foreseeable future. 

Bates says that his goal is to “create an offense where you have to pick your poison.” With Matt Moore playing attack and charging at close defenders head on, defenses will be begging for an antidote.

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