Who are the best players in the Southwest region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.
I can only think that the reason that something has not been written here already is that there is so much talent to cover that it’s intimidating.
The Southwest division has 4 bids for Nationals (The most of any region) and with the way that UCSD played at Sectionals the argument could be made that they deserve 5. Without further ado.
Han Chen is a name that everyone should know by now. If not Heist may ring a bell. Considering how the Southwest has always been known for its athleticism with fast downfield cutters one might assume that the 5’9 offensive juggernaut would match the criteria. Instead Heist handles the disc with brute force and sheer will-power. There is no place on the field where she cannot throw it. If she manages to get a mismatch on defence trying to put a force on here is closer to a suggestion.
Any match-up that the opposition chooses to throw at her will be a great contest because Han will almost always draw the best defender on any given team. More should be said about how crisp her fundamentals are, especially since her low release backhand is a coach’s dream. I’d mention her 70 yard hucks but I’m waiting for a Callahan video to do it for me. Don’t even get me started on her hammers.
Dena Elimelech is part of the reason why the Southwest should be worried that they only got 4 bids to Nationals. Behind Chrome UCSD took USC to universe at Sectionals. Dena plays an important part in the UCSD offence as the handlers will frequently throw lofty hucks is Dena is cutting deep, expecting her to come down with the disc regardless of the defender’s position. The scary thing is that she does more often than not. It’s not just her safe hands that should place her in the POTY conversation, her height contributes to some amazing layout defence. When Chrome goes full extension on a layout she can reach across an entire field. This may be hyperbole but I stand behind that powerful imagery. Her speciality on defence in guarding an upline handler cut. Between the sideline and Chromes outstretched hands the disc has no safe place to travel. Perhaps the greatest pity for UCSD was Dena missing a day of the Northwest Challenge in which UCSD took a couple tough losses. That being said, Chrome with a chip on her shoulder should strike fear in any SW team.
Both USC and Stanford struggle with the same problem of having an abundance of talented players that all contribute to their team’s success. However, for Stanford there’s really only one player that can put the team on her back and drag them to a victory if they hit a slump. Courtney Gegg has proven in the past to be the bane of any defender unlucky enough to take that match-up. It’s not so much whether you can stop Gegg, it’s about trying to limit the options she is allowed. While last year her throws were still developing this year she has taken a commanding role downfield and can step around almost any mark. Gegg’s other greatest talent lies in the fact that she exhausts defenders marking her. Stanford’s tight line rotation means that Gegg plays a larger amount of points than her match-ups can counteract. Her skillset is perfect for an extended tournament schedule. When Stanford won Nationals last year Gegg looked ready to play another few games with the remaining hours of the weekend, she has only improved since then.
For USC while many players on their roster can step up to change the tide of a game their most consistent wrecking ball is Alyssa Perez. While not necessarily a household name Alyssa, the self-proclaimed ‘Budlight Bandit’ (or Tattoo by everyone else), has been tearing it up for USC all year. The Hellions have an incredible line of dynamic cutters but when Alyssa gets fired up she can burn past a zone or person-defence alike. Alyssa has one of the quickest off-the-turn instincts in Women’s Ultimate currently and punishes teams for dropping their heads after an unfortunate drop or missed pass. Alyssa’s other talent lies in reaching full speed five steps before her opposition, something used to great effect on both D and O lines.
The Pie Queens of Cal-Berkeley also have a deep talent pool but a player that has really begun to shine is Alison Griffith.or Ali G. When The Pie Queens send out their kill line you can bet Alison is on it. It sometimes may seem that Alison is everywhere on the field at once, this may be an optical illusion but the other possibility is just that she is that good. Just Alison’s presence on the field forces defences to defer which in turn gives other players on her team a lot of easy passes, it’s to her credit that she can intimidate teams into allowing her teammates to score. Cal’s greatest strength is their athleticism and that they have relentless energy, Alison epitomises these attributes perfectly.
I’ll admit to never having watched UC Davis play but from what I hear Christina Debowski and Cheryl Hsu sound lethal. I’d love to have someone explain their excellence in vivid detail.
Other SW players that deserve All Region nods:
Camille Wilson: UCLA
Leanne Go: UCSD
Connie Chan: USC
Julia Johnson: USC
Anna Wysen: Cal-Berkeley
Jackelyne Nguyen: Cal-Berkeley
Hallie Dunham: Stanford
Monisha White: Stanford
Shayla Harris: Stanford
I’m happy to do a write-up for these women too but I’d far prefer to hear the voices of others with their unique thoughts. For a division with 4 bids and many great teams competing for them there’s definitely players I’ve missed.
Also planning on doing an All-Freshman & Coaching nomination. Stay Tuned.
I’m not sure how the All-Freshman award goes out, whether there’s a team or just a player but in my humble opinion there really is one woman in the Southwest that stands above the rest. I was taken aback to learn that Samantha Wool of UCSD Psychos is a Freshman. For someone to have blended so seamlessly into such an important role on UCSD’s rotation an incredible amount of praise is deserved. Samantha plays with composure and assurance that is unmatched by other freshmen in her division and is an asset to her team that paid off immediately. It’s obvious that she played before university but at the skill level she is maintaining and the years she has left with the Psychos expect her stock to continue to rise significantly.
I wanted to mention a few of players from Chico as I think their talent could be overlooked by the larger programs in the region.
Amanda Costa (Chico) - I was lucky enough to be Amanda’s coach last year and just seeing her dedication was a treat and nothing has changed this year. She is an unstoppable force and only a 3rd year. She is super competitive and puts her body on the line every single time she steps foot on the field. She can command an offense and has some incredible throws. No matter how good you were she still probably managed to get a lay out D on you or burn you on her handler cuts. Plus she plays just about every point and exhaustion rarely affects her game.
Liz Buhler (Chico) - Liz is a third year player and seriously impressive to watch especially when you consider the fact that she was not much of a force on the team her first year. Her work ethic is insane as is her step out (she damn near does the splits on every throw). She can throw an accurate flick huck further than most people (which she still manages to throw despite how hard her opponents try to stop it). She is super firey which can rub people the wrong way but she definitely deserves some recognition.
Marié Weverka and Ellen Sampson (Chico) - Both of these girls are amazing cutters, their speed alone makes them great players but both have good throws and can make some insane plays. They work well together allowing for smooth disc movement up the field after an initial throw from one of the two mentioned above. All around great players with great attitudes and sportsmanship.
Coaching shout out
Derek Miller (Chico) - Derek took over the Chico State Women’s Ultimate program 3 years ago and really put the ladies on the map. From narrowly missing out on a trip to regionals 3 years ago to taking them to their first regionals in a nearly a decade last year and this year helping them become the first team in Chico State Women’s history to play for something on Sunday at Regionals (no easy feat in this region). Their program owes a lot of their success to Derek as he has a mind for sports and coaches the ladies extremely well.
Have had so much fun playing against these women and happy to highlight some of them who I think deserve recognition!
Amanda “Panda” Meroux
These three women are very large forces in the Davis program. Cheryl and Lindsay act as anchor handlers, able to throw anything they want. Panda is one of the most relentless cutters I’ve guarded this season and is able to use her speed and athleticism to make great cuts and have great plays.
Han “Heist” Chen
No comment here, everyone knows she’s a beast.
Alyssa “Tattoo” Perez
Julia “Kumbha” Johnson
Avalon “Bugles” Igawa
Connie “Dory” Chan
Have had the opportunity to play club with these women 2 years ago and have enjoyed seeing them become the Hellions core. Cutters Tattoo and Dory are very strong cutters with some big throws. They’re smart players and can make big plays at any time. Handlers Kumbha and Bugles are both forces on the field in terms of offense and defense, respectively. Kumbha can literally throw anything she wants and trust her receivers to be there. Bugles is a great defensive player who makes great decisions on the field.
Anne-Marie “Puma” Gordon
Shayla “Dozer” Harris
Michelle “Hydra” McGhee
Only played Superfly twice this season and had very different games against them…But here are some of my thoughts on these players. Typically I get the joy of guarding Puma and Dozer who both are great cutters who know how to use the cutting space well. They are essentially the speedy, baller receivers that can cut deep at any time or make you pay on the under if you’re too far. No comment on Gegg as I feel like people know her - tall, athletic receiver who uses her height well and has great decision making. As for handlers Hydra, Hallie, and Monisha these are all handlers who Superfly runs their offense through. They all have great upfield throws and breaks and it’s definitely a case where we have to consciously change our details of defense to prevent their big throws.
and best for last…
Alexandra “Rex” Hasan
Kimberly “Korra” Long
These 3 women who I’ve had the pleasure of playing with, are all very dominant cutters who are threats on the field. They all have great decision making, have big throws, and play really nice defense. Additionally, these 3 are some of the best teammates I’ve had in terms of staying positive, having a good attitude and playing great ultimate.