The top seven women from U23 Worlds!
July 22, 2015 by Preston Thompson in Analysis with 7 comments
The best and brightest young talents in ultimate converged on London last week for the Under-23 World Championships. Competition was fierce as countries battled it out for a spot on the podium.
Here, we recognize some of the most impressive players at the tournament. We picked seven women that powered their teams throughout the week.
The players were judged on the following criteria: skill, leadership, and value to the team. While statistical performance is valuable, it takes more to be a successful player. All of the following players time and time again came through in the biggest spots. They willed their teams to their peak performance and earned a spot on our top seven.
Mira Donaldson (Canada Women)
A disappointing loss in the semifinals can’t put a damper on how impressive Mira Donaldson was this past week. In Canada’s first matchup against Japan, the zone D of the Japanese only had to be beaten by one system: get the disc to Donaldson, and let her pick it apart. Her 19 assists led the team by a mile, and her leadership off the field kept Canada level headed as they went 8-2 over the course of the week.
Kathryn Smith (Australia Women)
Smith was the quarterback of an Australian team that broke seed by the largest margin in the Women’s division. Her throws were a huge part of an offense that liked to put it deep, and run zone offense in the wind. When Smith was able to touch the disc frequently, their offense was hard to stop. Her 28 assists and 8 goals put her close to the top statistically in the women’s division.
Asako Takaura (Japan Women)
Japan was one of the deepest teams in the Women’s Division. Takaura was just another cog in what made the offensive machine go. But Takaura was the whole package, doing whatever it took offensively to move her squad down the field. Her 21 assists and 14 goals were just another part of Japan’s gold medal run.
Jaclyn Verzuh (USA Women)
Verzuh was consistently one of the best players on the field, and she hasn’t yet played in a college game. On an all-star squad, she had more assists than anyone else on Team USA. Her height presented a matchup problem for opposing defenses all week, and her on field composure outweighed her age. Look out for Jaclyn with the Dartmouth women this coming college season.
Shira Stern (USA Women)
Shira Stern did what she does best: scored. Stern consistently timed her cuts to perfection, and was a huge part of the USA deep game that got them to the final. In the USA’s first round against Japan, she scored six times. In their game against Canada, she scored five. Stern would fake out defenders on the undercut and then more often that not be wide open deep, making her near impossible to stop for the better part of the tournament.
Sarah Maria Builes (Colombia Women)
While this list is full of great talent, Builes might win the most valuable player for the tournament. No woman was more vital to her team than Builes was for Colombia. With fantastic throws, she tallied close to a third of her teams scores, up to as many as seven in a single game. Builes played nearly every point, and was the clear voice of leadership for the sixth place squad.
Leah Farris (USA Mixed)
Farris might be the best defender in this group of talented women. She consistently took the toughest matchup from the USA’s opposition. After a turn, she attacked that matchup and found the end zone more times than all but one player on the USA Mixed roster. On top of her on field presence, Farris also won the spirit award (given out by USA’s opponents) three times over the course of the tournament.
Additional reporting from Eryn Ivey.