Who are the best players in the Metro East region? This is an open thread to discuss All-Region nominations, All-Freshman nominations, coaching awards, and more. Stay positive and keep it civil.
Madeline Schwenker-Punnett is the best player in the section. she’s the only reason geneseo can win a game.
You can’t have a discussion about Metro East All-Region without starting with Tamar Austin (#3 for RPI Strut). Known all throughout the northeast, Tamar has been a leader for RPI since she stepped on campus her freshman year, captaining the team in her second semester. Tamar has been the most consistent and dependable player on Strut all year, able to play any position on the field and win any matchup that she takes while on the field. While most teams have 1 or 2 players that excel at a specific position on the field, Tamar is able to both win her matchup, while actively serving as a leader on the field during the point, helping to direct her teammates and fill any holes that open up both offensively and defensively to cover for a teammate until the team can recover. Able to make both the reliable incut and the extrodinary layout grab, Tamar embodies the term “All-Region” whenever she steps onto the field.
I think that Gina Pryciak (#22) from Skidmore should definitely be in discussion for Metro East All-Region. She’s only a Sophomore and is already Skidmore’s main handler. She touches the disc almost every other throw and provides stability the team definitely wouldn’t have without her. She combines filthy hucks with an incredible field IQ to complete her game. She also comes out of an Amherst high school system that breeds ultimate players. Watch out for her to tear up the region in the next two years. Oh, and I forgot to mention she is easily the strongest person in the region guys or girls.
While she might be the shortest player in the region, she can definitely huck it the furthest. Makayla Wahaus (#18) one of the captains from RPI Strut, is one of the team’s main handlers and dominates the possession game for the team. RPI has seen multiple different zone defense’s this year and by the second half of every game, the opposing team had transitioned to straight man defense because Makayla would routinely break their cup to the point where they may have been playing 3 or 4 on 7 the entire point. While she fulfills the handler position on offense, Makayla is a sneaky wing on defense where she will pop up in the throwing lane to snag a swing pass as soon as you’ve released it (who said being short was a disadvantage for defense?). And given she’s only a sophomore, expect to see a lot more broken cups in her wake over the next two years.
Not to leave the other captain un-discussed, but Nancy “Manbun” Bush (#2) from RPI Strut deserves to be in the discussion for All-Region for the Metro East. Nancy can be found patrolling the deep space, inside of the cup, making strike cuts, and hucking it to anyone whose open (even the sideline on occasion)…essentially Nancy plays everywhere on the field and rarely takes a point off. On the rare occasion you do find her on the sideline (scarfing down some straight Gatorade powder), you’ll see her moving up and down the sideline shouting at her teammates on the field to keep them fired up and running harder than they thought they could. Nancy is an emotional leader and plays with a passion that keeps everyone focused on the current point, regardless of the score of the game.
Annie Shriver is a great player and star handler from Vassar! She is all over the field making moves and is always a pleasure to play against!
Tamar from RPI is an excellent player and deserves All-Region very clearly. She demonstrated athleticism, intelligence, patience, and an extremely high level of skill with her throws and cuts. She was able to work around each of the different zones we threw against RPI, and was unphased by any strategic adjustments we made. She and her team more than deserve their bid to D-III Nationals.
I would like to provide a few more details on Madeline Schwenker-Punnett, #14 from SUNY-Geneseo. As someone has previously mentioned, Maddy Punnett is a huge reason for Geneseo’s successes this season, although Punnett has many talented teammates surrounding her, which I will go into later. Punnett has everything you want in a player: athleticism, a variety of reliable throws (including over-the-top scoobers and hammers), strong hucks, excellent defense, the ability to focus and execute under pressure, as well as the flexibility and humility to incorporate advice from her peers and to adjust herself according to calls from the sideline. If given the opportunity, she will take you to Sky-town. The number of times she has bailed out her team with a layout D or a block in her team’s own endzone is far too many to count. Maddy Punnett additionally has brilliant leadership qualities, captaining her team by example on the field, always remaining committed to the strategies and fundamentals which the team leadership teaches in practice, while off the field always thinking critically about the team and how to improve, and being a supportive friend to her teammates. Maddy’s off-the-field leadership extends in my opinion even further to how she carries herself outside of ultimate, remaining dedicated to her studies and leading by example in speaking up for what is right when it comes to social issues. Punnett has it all, on the field and off, and it would be very shocking to me if she were not to make First-Team-All-Region. Other teams can surely attest to her talents and her spirit.
Now for some of of Geneseo’s other talented players, who fully deserve to be in the All-Region discussions themselves. First is Hannah Embry #16, who has only been playing ultimate for a year and a half, became a leading handler for SUNY-Geneseo. Embry demonstrated consistent throws and the ability to take shots and throw hucks when appropriate, consistently gets open for her teammates, and has developed the patience to break down a zone with her other handlers. Hannah’s defense is perhaps the strongest part of her game, grabbing far too many clutch D’s to count, and always being physical and hungry to earn the disc back. Hannah’s athleticism was an important asset to Escargot this year, as she came up with many tough grabs, skies, and layouts. Embry is exactly the kind of player who you want on your Universe line and D-line, as her mentality is consistently fierce and dedicated–she is rarely caught sleeping on the field. This carries to her sideline game, where she is always an important presence, urging her team to keep pushing themselves and playing their hardest. Hannah is another player who leads by example on and off the field for SUNY Geneseo, remaining dedicated to advocating for what is right when it comes to social issues. It is for Hannah’s leadership, athleticism, skills, and personality for why she deserves to make All-Region.
Mary Kelly Hilton, #19 for SUNY-Geneseo Escargot, is yet another player for Geneseo who epitomizes the word “clutch”. MK is famous on her team for always being available deep, having the awareness to read the game, time her cuts, create space for herself and others, to read the disc even in the most unpredictable winds, as well as the athleticism to sky and grab the disc when it seems impossible. MK is another player who has bailed her team out on defense regularly this season, but can also claim credit for saving her team many times on offense when the handlers were forced to punt. MK is not merely a deep threat for her team, however, as she regularly got open for in-cuts at important times, and her throws were reliable and consistent all season. MK is as reliable as any player can be, and she is one of the least likely players to turnover the disc on her team, and arguably in the region. MK additionally keeps a cool head during play, which contributes even more to her consistency on the field, and was an important leadership quality for her team this season. MK Hilton thus deserves All-Region for the huge role she played for Geneseo, for her athleticism and technical skills, and for her superior mental game.
Maddie Staiger #12 was another excellent captain this season for Escargot. Off the field she was a constant leader, always thinking critically about how to help her team improve. Staiger appeared to truly take to heart her dedication to the team and it was visible in the ways she carried herself around team members. Staiger was vocal from the field and from the sideline and was always supportive to her teammates during tournaments. When it comes to on-the-field skills, Staiger’s ability to get open as a cutter is unrivaled. She uses her athleticism and intelligence to send her defender the other way to get open. Maddie is easily the cutter with the most touches on Escargot, which speaks to her consistency; she is almost always available for the first cut, and is always available for a continuation as well. She is involved in everything when she is on the field. She found huge success in assisting handlers in breaking through a zone this season, using patience and creativity to find space behind the cup. Maddie Staiger demonstrated quality in her throws this season, finding chemistry with other cutters to move the disc up the field, and even putting it deep on occasion. Finally, Staiger played an important defensive role for Geneseo, using her physicality in person defense and being hyper-aware of her surroundings to get D’s as a mid-mid in zone defense. I believe that Staiger’s leadership, sideline presence, ability to get open and move the disc up the field, her defense, and her vast number of touches and high level of involvement in Escargot’s offense have earned her a place on Metro East All-Region.
The third and final captain, Sarah Hayes aka Rachel Hayes aka Lefty Hayes aka Hands-for-Days Hayes aka Righty Hayes, #29, had an unfortunate injury to her dominate wrist early in the regular season, but didn’t let that stop her from playing a huge role in Geneseo’s successes this season. Hayes was a fearless leader while injured, being vocal from the sideline and being equally as passionate and dedicated to the growth of the team as the other two captains. Hayes’ ultimate smarts were invaluable to her team all season, and was able to call lines and make excellent strategic decisions from the sideline. When her team arrived at conferences with several handlers injured, she showed true lead-by-example, win-at-all-costs leadership by playing lefty the whole tournament–YES, she played with her off-hand, and was a reliable handler who got open when needed and helped her team keep possession, in inclement weather no less. By the time Regionals came, “Righty Hayes” was back, and just at the right time. With other handlers still injured, Hayes played a lot of ultimate throughout the weekend, consistently getting open, helping her team keep possession, and responded fearlessly to zones such as 4-person cups, moving the disc quickly and even dropping a couple over-the-tops to grab yards. Hayes contributed strongly to zone defense as well at both conferences and regionals, being an important member of the cups and walls up front in zones. When her team found itself in times of trouble, Hayes was constantly a voice of reason and a voice of encouragement, confirming her place in my mind as an All-Region player.
I am not sure if she is eligible as a rookie who is not a Freshman, but Kaitlyn West #7 had an amazing rookie season. She regularly came up with MK Hilton-esque clutch deep grabs, as well as Maddy Punnett-esque baited D’s. She was confident on the disc, consistent in her throws, and stepped up huge when injuries required her to occupy a place on the Universe line. Kaitlyn demonstrated dedication to the team and was good at incorporating advice from the sideline and from practice into her game quickly, which shows extreme promise for her future in ultimate. Kaitlyn additionally showed a cool head throughout the season and never appeared visibly frustrated or discouraged, and never let her team down mentally. Kaitlyn has been a huge asset for the team this year and the team would not have been the same without her, and therefore I believe she deserves a shout for All-Freshman/All-Rookie, if she is eligible.
Thanks for reading. It would be great if other teams could pipe in on this conversation and back up our players, and help us remember who your good players are so we can give them shouts too! Go Metro East!