D-I Men’s 2018 Player of the Year, Presented by Spin Ultimate & NUTC

And the Player of the Year is...

Ultiworld’s 2018 Women’s College Awards are presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp and VC Ultimate, as part of their season-long support of our women’s coverage. All opinions are those of the authors. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Ultiworld possible!

Ultiworld is pleased to announced our fifth annual College Awards. The criteria for each award can be found here — we consider both regular season and postseason performance in our selection of awards. Though the input of Ultiworld reporters is weighed heavily, final decisions for awards are made by the editors.

The Player of the Year Award, and its Runners-up, represent the best overall performers of the 2018 season. These three individuals were the most impactful players in the division this spring.

D-I Men’s 2018 College Player Of The Year

Matt Gouchoe-Hanas (North Carolina)

North Carolina’s Matt Gouchoe-Hanas at Easterns 2018. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

It was a tight race to claim the 2018 Player of the Year title, and contested until the very last day of the season. But in leading his team to a Championship, Matt Gouchoe-Hanas earned just the edge necessary to beat out very stiff competition. North Carolina’s star handler displayed his leadership, versatility, toughness, and will to win in Milwaukee, capping off a fantastic senior season.

On the field, Gouchoe-Hanas demonstrated his well-rounded abilities while still operating effectively within the Darkside system. He was one of the team’s best defenders despite being on the O-line and their leading goal-scorer despite operating as the center handler. The Carolina Friends School product torched defenses for 20 goals at Nationals, tying him for second overall at the tournament, while adding nine assists. Some might say he got in an extra game to pump up those counting stats, but that’s not the whole story. UNC conceded just 20 goals in the team’s first three games, meaning very few opportunities for his O-line, and the starters sat for much of the inconsequential fourth pool play game against William & Mary.

When the pressure was on in the bracket, MGH stepped it up, tallying 12 of his goals and four of his assists in elimination play. After last year’s deflating semifinal capitulation, where rival UNC Wilmington stormed back late to knock off North Carolina, it must have been refreshing for Gouch to play well when the pressure was on. Even if a centering pass got away from him up 12-9 in the final, he buckled down and scored on the next point to bring his team to the brink of a championship. It was the last point of his season.

Of course, part of what earned Gouchoe-Hanas this award is that his impact went far beyond his on-field contributions; his leadership shone through the team as well. He was the rock for Darkside all season, a passionate captain with the poise to guide the offense and fire to make momentum-seizing plays on defense. His story often includes the anecdote of him centering passes to Jonathan Nethercutt, the 2015 Callahan winner, on the way to Gouchoe-Hanas’s first Championship. Well now, he can claim an honor Nethercutt never did: a College Player of the Year Award.

Oregon’s Adam Rees at the 2018 Stanford Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen — UltiPhotos.com

1st Runner-up: Adam Rees (Oregon)

It’s hard to overstate how close Rees was to being Player of the Year. It truly was a tremendous season for the Oregon cutter, whose blazing speed and razor precision paced the Ego offense. Like Gouchoe-Hanas, Rees can play every position and is arguably the best player his team has for nearly any job. He’s also emblematic of his team’s strengths.

While his five goal and 11 assist Nationals statline isn’t eye-popping, his miniscule five turnovers1 serves to underscore his efficiency. Considering the difficulty of both his individual matchups and in executing the precise Oregon offense, Rees’ ability to operate as its fulcrum while maintaining possession effectively speaks volumes about his impact. He was sensational throughout this spring, keeping Oregon locked in the title conversation from the start of the season to the finish.

2nd Runner-up: Michael Ing (Pittsburgh)

Pittsburgh’s Mike Ing at the 2018 Stanford Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen — UltiPhotos.com

The rise of Michael Ing has been steady and loud. The 2017 College DPOTY runner-up shifted his attention to offense this season, to thunderous results. Ing carried a heavy load for the Pitt offense and he hefted that weight all the way to an unexpected appearance in the National Championship game.

Matching Gouchoe-Hanas’ goal and assist totals while also earning seven blocks in Milwaukee, Ing led the men’s division at Nationals in overall +/-.2 His explosiveness as a receiver, reliability as a thrower, and instincts as a defender made him one of the most productive players in the division all year long.

  1. three of which came in their semifinal loss, meaning he had just two turnovers in the team’s other five games. 

  2. Goals + Assists + Blocks – Turnovers 

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