The easiest one to define yet! Offence is great but in almost every game you’re going to need blocks. These players get blocks.
Third place: Ben Wilson, Reading
Not to be outdone by brother Sam, Ben was a huge asset for Reading defensively this season. Taking on the most difficult matchups and generating turns is a rare pairing that he managed to pull off this season. The Reading defensive unit was so strong all year, and Ben’s breakout club season was a big reason for that.
Second place: Rachel Naden, SMOG
Rachel was one of the best defensive players in the country when she played for Reading in the mixed division in 2018, and has continued to dominate since then. She was phenomenal in the National League season and carried that form into Nationals, taking on tough downfield matchups and throwing bombs on the turn. Not only can she do a bit of everything offensively, defensively she’s a star.
WINNER: Bex Palmer, Reading
Bex won the Best of the Rest award and now adds another award to her collection. She’s always been one of the best handlers in the division but really showed her value on the defensive end this year. She was not only able to mark out handlers but was extremely effective on cutters too, showing hugely impressive versatility as she took on whoever was causing Reading trouble and made life harder for them.
Third place: Claire Sharman, London Masters
Claire’s work as a defender this season was incredibly impressive. Her footwork is impeccable and she’s able to block off the space that cutters are trying to attack seemingly with ease. She’s also a great help defender, peeling off her mark to muck up the space in front of the disc or to challenge a deep throw. Claire can do everything that good defenders need to be able to do, and does it all at a very high level.
Second place: Lynden Chiang, Bristol Women
Lynden emerged as a vital player for Bristol this season and showed that value on defence most of all. Versatile enough defensively to match against top cutters and to play in the middle of a hybrid zone defence, her speed, intelligence and positioning meant she was able to generate blocks but also able to smother her mark and keep them out of the game altogether.
WINNER: Amelia Kenneth, Iceni
Amelia has been one of the best defenders around for a while now, and this season was no different. Her speed and aggression mean she gets blocks against anyone, and that she’s a huge threat going long after the turn. One of Iceni’s leaders as they reached the final of Nationals, she had another dominant defensive season to add to her CV.
Third place: Joel Terry, Alba
Joel has been one of the top defenders in Scotland for some time, previously starring for Glasgow in the mixed division. Still only 24, he’s one of a number of Alba players capable of taking on hugely challenging matchups and making life very unpleasant for them. Pairing great instincts with rock solid fundamentals, he’s another to watch in the coming years as he continues getting better and better.
Second place: Nathan Wragg, Clapham Ultimate
Some defenders are all positioning and smarts, but some defenders bring those tools along with a dash of all out chaos. The ‘Peroxide Demon’ (shoutout Lorcan Murray, and yes I did see who I guess was someone in Nathan’s family say that the colour is natural but the nickname works too well to pass up) flew around fields all over the UK this season, ready to punish any throw that was even slightly off-target. His athleticism and quick reactions meant he caused plenty of turns, and he was a reliable asset once those turns were secured too.
WINNER: Andrew Hillman, Clapham Ultimate
Andy was one of the leaders for Clapham this season but that responsibility didn’t mean his level of play slipped at all. Long one of the two or three best handler marks in the country, this season he was able to completely smother the best disc handlers on the other team and pressure them into bad throws when they were able to shake free of his vice-like grip. He was also crucial once the disc had turned, his crafty lefty throws giving Clapham’s D line a reliable source of yards.