2023 Premier Lacrosse League Preview: Archers LC


Nick Washuta (pictured) and Brett Dobson will battle for the starting goalie job.

With the 2023 Premier Lacrosse League season set to open in Albany, N.Y., on June 3, USA Lacrosse Magazine is going team by team in the days leading up to the opener. Today, we take a deep dive on Archers LC.


2022 Record: 6-4
Head Coach: Chris Bates
Assistants: Tony Resch, Brian Kavanagh

Key Additions: Mac O’Keefe, M; Challen Rogers, M; Tim Edwards, SSDM; Mike Sisselberger, FO; Connor Maher, SSDM; Piper Bond, SSDM; Cam Wyers, D

Key departures: Marcus Holman, A (Cannons); Adam Ghitelman, G (Cannons); Jeff Trainor, SSDM (Cannons); Scott Ratliff, LSM (retired); Dominique Alexander, SSDM (retired); Will Manny, A (Whipsnakes)


Who fills the leadership void?

The Archers had arguably one of the most transformative offseasons in the league. The Archers lost five players who were not only key contributors but also part of the original Archers team: Marcus Holman, Will Manny and Adam Ghitelman all left in free agency, while Scott Ratliff and Dominique Alexander both retired. Not only does that list include two captains — Bates said they were all big personalities with big voices.

The team still has Tom Schreiber, but Bates added that other returning players are going to have to step up and take on more responsibility. Bates said Graeme Hossack is a natural leader, and his relationship with the returning Warren Jeffrey should bolster the defense. Bates said it would be a natural evolution for midfielder Ryan Ambler — an original member of the Archers entering his seventh professional season — to assume more leadership. He also said that even though it’s only his fourth season, Grant Ament is finding his voice on the team. Bates added that with veterans like Jeffrey and Matt McMahon and third-year pro Jared Conners, leaders and personalities should emerge organically.

Is Mike Sisselberger the answer?

Since the PLL’s inception, the Archers have been near the bottom of the league in faceoff winning percentage. The team finished fifth (out of six) in 2019, fifth (out of seven) in 2020, sixth (out of eight) in 2021 and last in 2022. In all four seasons, the team was under 50 percent with a franchise-worst 38.3 percent in 2022.

Stephen Kelly was the team’s lead faceoff athlete from 2019-21, and then the Archers turned to a pair of rookies in Justin Inacio and Frankie Labetti for the 2022 season.

It was not a secret the Archers were going to look for faceoff help in the 2023 draft (especially with Inacio on the PUP list at the time), which was a very deep class. Bates felt the team need was so strong that he used his team’s first-round draft pick on Sisselberger, the player considered to be the top faceoff athlete in this year’s class, ahead of players like Will Bowen, Tucker Dordevic and Thomas McConvey.

Sisselberger holds the record for NCAA single-season winning percentage (79.5 percent in 2021) and boasts a 67.8 winning percentage for his Lehigh career. Pair him with Conners on the wing, and this could be a dynamic tandem. He will be tested early, however, potentially going up against Connor Farrell and Max Adler in Weeks 2 and 3.

What should the Archers expect from their goalies?

In the PLL’s first-year, the Archers were set in goal, anchored by veterans Drew Adams and Ghitelman. Adams retired after the 2021 season, and Ghitelman left for the Cannons in free agency. Now the Archers goalies are Brett Dobson and Nick Washuta. The two have a combined six games of pro experience.

Washuta was drafted by the Denver Outlaws and played five games in 2020, taking over for Dillon Ward, and he helped lead the Outlaws to the MLL championship game. He was an emergency goalie for the Archers in 2022 but didn’t log any action.

Dobson appeared in only one game for the Archers in 2022, his rookie season, but Bates must think highly of him, drafting him in the second round of the college draft.

Both Dobson and Washuta played for the Archers in the Championship Series. Dobson also was Team Canada’s goalie in The World Games, helping the team to a gold medal. Bates said Dobson has experience “beyond his years” and that he drafted him believing he could lead a team.

The two will compete for the starting position, and Bates said he is confident the defense in front of either will help ease the transition into a bigger role.


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