This is another fairly easy award to define. Some people pick the disc up a lot and do most of the work swinging and generating movement in the backfield. Those people are not the people we are thinking about today. There are some players on this list that you could call hybrids, but largely these players are the ones who start further down the field and generate big gains with both their legs and their throws.
Third place: Eddy Codd, SMOG
Eddy was metronomic and reliable for SMOG this season, using his height and huge catch radius to make a difference downfield. He was also consistent and safe with the disc in hand and was excellent defensively when needed. He hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of profile as some of his teammates in recent years but his role has been crucial in getting SMOG to the top of the tree in UK ultimate.
Second place: Leila Denniston, Deep Space
Leila was a dominant downfield cutter this season. She was unstoppable at times at Nationals, using her speed, height and great hands to bring down some grabs it seemed she had no shot at. Her goal in the penultimate point of the Nationals final was a great case in point; speed to run the disc down, great hands to catch it at full extension and a defender trailing with no ability to affect the play. A great season for a great player.
WINNER: Sam Wilson, Reading
Sam’s season was something of a breakout, as we discussed yesterday, and it was all based around his ability to beat his marks with his speed. He was able to live in the deep space and then beat people underneath once they started trying to take the long cuts away. He’s been a great addition for a Reading team that was already packed with talent.
Third place: Claire Sharman, London Masters
Claire was central to the LMU success this season, with her ability to keep churning yards and getting blocks when they were needed. Her ability to get open reliably always gave the LMU handlers an option and her ability to take away the best cutters on the opposition and challenge deep throws whether they were to her mark or not meant that teams had to account for her at all times on both sides of the disc.
Second place: Molly Wedge, Bristol Women
No new player made a bigger impact than Molly this season. She was a shutdown defender, a reliable source of yards as a cutter and a dominant force with the disc in the air. She was a huge part of the title-winning season for Bristol, as her POTY runner-up spot shows, and was one of the best downfield players in any division this season.
WINNER: Ellie Taylor, Iceni
You could talk about a lot of things with Ellie’s game. She’s a very solid thrower who rarely turns over, she’s able to go up and challenge in the deep space when the disc is hanging and she rises to the big moments, making plays when her team desperately needs them. The main thing, though, is speed. Ellie is probably the fastest female player in the UK and has zoomed around pitches making big plays for Black Eagles, Great Britain Mixed and now Iceni as they all played in huge games.
Third place: Cameron Agnew, Alba
Agnew was a vital part of the Alba team that has performed so well for the last two seasons and will surely be a part of the success they seemed primed to enjoy in the coming years. Pairing speed and shiftiness downfield with big throwing ability and great fitness, he’s as tough a cover in the open division as there is.
Second place: Justin Foord, Clapham Ultimate
Perhaps a victim of some voter fatigue, nevertheless Justin has had another imperious year this season. He’s still arguably the most vital part of Clapham’s O line and when things start creaking slightly and a play needs to be made, he’s still very often the man that steps up to the plate. His game-winning layout block at the Madrid Invitational was just one example of what he’s still capable of over a decade into his Clapham run.
WINNER: Ollie Gordon, Clapham Ultimate
Ollie was shifted from his longstanding role on the D line to play offence for the Clapham machine this season and was wildly effective. Not only did he show that his throwing was good enough to survive at the highest levels in Europe on the O line, but his height, athleticism and smarts meant he was open basically all year. Maybe the best season he’s had with Clapham after a long time with the team, he now has his sights set on Cincinnati and the prospect of a second World Games appearance.