The 6 Most Underrated Men’s Division Players at Nationals

These guys are really good...but you might not know it.

Science doesn’t yet have an explanation for this phenomenon, but once a year in Frisco, the stars are out all day. Cricket, Muffin, and Joye toss dimes, while Mickle, Driscoll, and Beau score goals. You don’t need a crystal ball here; it’s just a fact.

Each team has its studs, the guys who, regardless of who you put on them, will get their stats. They’re going to score, they’re going to play great defense, there’s nothing you can do about it. But these players are well known. We’ve read, seen video, and talked about them.

I think it’s about time we give some love to the guys people don’t always talk about.

Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

Alex Simmons (Ironside)

I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but ever since I saw Simmons get a lay-out d against Tufts at 2012 College Nationals, it was clear he was going to do big things in club. This season especially, Simmons is doing big things. With 2014 captains Russell Wallack and George Stubbs out the door, Ironside needed a new source of fiery leadership. Enter Simmons, who as a first-year captain has helped propel Ironside to their unexpectedly successful season.

Although he stands only 5’9”, Simmons plays much bigger, using his physicality to gain leverage over oft-larger opponents. Simmons is the kind of the player that will LOOK for contact, a mentality that was clearly ground into him at Wisconsin. Intense, physical d is what the Hodags are known for, and Simmons exemplifies that. If Ironside makes it to the semis again this year, expect Evan Lepler to be saying Simmons’ name often.

Photo: Christina Schmidt -- UltiPhotos.com
Photo: Christina Schmidt — UltiPhotos.com

Tom Annen (Ironside)

Annen has been somewhat of a journeyman recently. After spending years with Madison Club, he made the switch (along with Dave Wiseman and Pat Shriwise) to Machine in 2014, only to have their fantastic regular season trumped by a disappointing nationals. This season, Annen finds himself in Boston, and as a main cog in Ironside’s potent new offensive line. The two newcomers to that line, Annen and Tyler Chan, couldn’t be less similar.

Chan is a cutter, blazingly fast, and young, having just graduated college. Annen, on the other hand, is a handler. While he’s certainly quick, “blazingly fast” isn’t the phrase most would use to describe him. And at 29, Annen isn’t OLD, but he certainly isn’t fresh out of college, either. All this points to Chan being the bigger difference-maker, right? You probably see where I’m going with this.

Annen, out of all of Ironside’s new additions, has had the biggest impact on the team. Along with Markette, Neff, and Clark, Annen provides a veteran presence for a team bereft of many of their veterans. Matt Rebholz is no longer there (technically he is, but not as a player) to occupy the center handler role. Markette could do it, but he’s at his best when he’s free to prance about downfield. Enter Annen, who has been a center handler for the Hodags, Madison Club, and worked in tandem with Bob Liu last season. This allows Markette, Jake Taylor, and new addition Mark Vandenberg to rotate in and out of the handler spot as they wish, providing the Ironside offense with a ton of flexibility.

Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

Jake Rainwater (Patrol)

I’m not sure if this guy is underrated, insomuch as just not talked about. If your team has ever played Patrol, you know who this guy is. If you’re one of the twelve people who pay attention to the Philadelphia Spinners, formerly of the AUDL and now of the MLU, you know who he is. And, even more obscurely, if you ever played Dickinson College around five years ago (as I did), you probably know who he is.

If you didn’t do any of that, I’ll do you a solid and fill you in: Rainwater was (is) the best player on all those teams. Why? Besides the obvious advantages his size gives him, Rainwater is an incredibly smart player. He never plays outside his comfort zone–he knows what he can throw and when he should throw it. He’s a goal machine as well. Don’t be surprised if he’s towards the top of the stat sheets in Frisco.

Joel SchlachetJoel Schlachet (Revolver)

This guy is the Mike Conley of ultimate: underrated so often and for so long that I’m beginning to think of him as simply “rated.” Schlachet is a squirrely, smart, and supremely skilled player who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s also the victim of an odd affliction: his teammates are so good that his excellence is barely noticed. If a team is game-planning for Revolver’s offense, Schlachet is certainly the player that is going to be overlooked; teams just have too many other concerns, with Higgins, Joye, and Beau also lining up across the field.

Although he might get some relatively easier matchup than his superstar counterparts, Schlachet is a master of taking advantage it. When Revolver was broken multiple times in the first half against Truck Stop at the PFF, it was Schlachet who managed to stop the bleeding. Schlachet had a huge game, leading the team in goals and paving the way (along with some great defense) for Revolver’s comeback and eventual victory. For my money, he’s the most underrated player in elite men’s ultimate.

Lucas DallmannLucas Dallmann (Revolver)

Another first year captain, Dallmann is the prototypical Revolver defender: intense, disciplined, and intelligent. While younger than many of the Revolver vets, Dallmann is often the most vocal player on the sideline, and the first to sprint in to celebrate or a score or encourage a teammate who got beat.

Dallman is like the guy on the other pickup basketball team that comes wearing shooting sleeves and rec-specs. For lack of a better word, he looks goofy. Then you play, and quickly find out that guy played college basketball at Villanova. This guy is going to go 100% 100% of the time, no exceptions.

He THRIVES on big games, and channels that energy to his teammates as well. Dallman seems like the kind of player that, should Revolver win the title this year, would gather the team after the game to tell them “That’s one.” Like I said, that attitude fits Revolver to a T.

Photo: Burt Granofsky -- UltiPhotos.com
Photo: Burt Granofsky — UltiPhotos.com

Andrew Carroll (GOAT)

I feel like defensive players never get as much attention as O, despite that great defense is a lot harder to find than great offense. Yes, I love a Mickle sky or a Muff Bomb as much as the next guy. But defense in ultimate is an often a thankless position, mostly due to the fact that at its top level the offense is expected to score. GOAT, like most of Canadian ultimate has acquired a reputation as a team that plays extremely physical on defense. Players like Anatoly Vasilyev and Remi Ojo are masters at bodying up and locking down.

But Andrew Carroll, for my money, is GOAT’s best overall defender. Yes, Adrian Yearwood is a menace on handlers, and Geoff Powell’s physicality makes him a great cutter defender, but we’re talking overall defensive prowess here. Not many people can say that got a deep D on Jimmy Mickle in a National Semifinal. Carroll can. While not the biggest or the most athletic, Carroll has a knack for coming up with crucial Ds at crucial times.

  1. Charlie Enders
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    Charlie discovered ultimate his freshman year of high school after he was cut from all the other sports. He lives in St Paul, MN, and you can follow his bad tweets @Endersisgame.

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