Our selections for the seven best performers of the year.
November 14, 2019 by Ultiworld in Awards with 0 comments
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Ultiworld is pleased to announce our seventh annual Women’s All-Club teams. While we consider both regular season and postseason performance, because of the nature of the Club Division, we weight success in the Series and at Nationals above all else. The All-Clb teams are selected based on input from Ultiworld reporters, contributors, and editors.
2019 Women’s All-Club 1st Team
Robyn Fennig (Washington DC Scandal)
Game in and game out, Robyn Fennig’s influence was seen and felt in the women’s division in 2019. While her impact on the division in the past felt muted by Heist’s inability to get legitimate shots at taking down top competitors, Fennig got her clear looks at toppling the best teams in the country this time around with her move to Scandal.
In almost every game she played this season, Fennig was the best player on the field, whether it be because of her fearsome defense before the turn or playmaking ability after it. With her inimitable presence, Scandal won Pro-Elite Challenge, defeating Molly Brown in the final and earning a regular-season victory against Fury. Simply put, when Fennig dons your team’s jersey, with her combination of ability, leadership, and selflessness, it feels like her side can win any game, no matter the opposition.
– Keith Raynor
Kami Groom (Boston Brute Squad)
We can basically just pencil in Groom for one of those top spots every year now. Groom’s skill set makes her such a force on the field that no one has truly been able to stop for years. Groom was at the very top of her game at Nationals, especially in the biggest games of the weekend, as she absolutely took over in each of Brute Squad’s bracket games.
By this point, we’ve said all that can be said about Groom. She’s impossibly fast, and a lockdown defender. She never shies away from the big moments and is the on-field tone-setter for Brute Squad’s identity: ruthless on-field execution and efficiency. She’s truly a world-class player and future hall of famer, and she may have raised her bar the highest it’s ever been with her Nationals performance this year.
– Daniel Prentice
Jack Verzuh (Seattle Riot)
The shame about playing a sport that requires at least two players per team is that we’ll never get to see just how good Verzuh could be if they got to play one-on-one against an opponent. With how well they’ve played this season, it’s not impossible to think they’d never lose such a game. To anyone. Scientists could build the perfect ultimate player in a lab and still fall short of beating Verzuh with the game on the line. It’s not just their combination of size, speed, throwing ability, defensive acumen, positioning, zone-breaking skills, and competitive spirit that makes them so inevitable — or wait, no, it is those things.
It’s a sign of just how world-breaking Verzuh can be that a criticism of Riot this season was that they should have played through Verzuh more. Seattle is one of the most complete teams in the nation, with a roster that runs 27 players deep. Even then, they have a player in Verzuh that eclipses so many of the opponents they face that it’s a wonder more coaches haven’t broken their clipboards in frustration. Riot’s young star continues to get better. For the sake of competitive fairness, we can only hope that their opponents continue to do the same.
– Graham Gerhart
Angela Zhu (Boston Brute Squad)
Of all the things that make Angela Zhu a star, perhaps the leading factor is the ease with which she handles being a crucial piece of a championship team. There is no hesitation, no discomfort, but rather a sense of inevitability and focus. When Zhu picks up the disc, she inspires that confidence in her teammates.
And why wouldn’t they have belief? All she’s done is lead teams to new heights. Her trophy case is filling rapidly, with team and individual honors aplenty. Zhu produces — consistently, and regardless of context. She’s ever-present, whether it be as a reset, a defender, a thrower, or a voice from the sideline. With Zhu, it’s less about the caliber of her talent and more about how effectively she wields it.
– Keith Raynor
Claire Chastain (Denver Molly Brown)
There’s nothing more symbolically evergreen than watching Chastain control a game. After becoming a household name over the past five years, Chastain had every right to ride her laurels into the sunset this season, but she chose a tougher road. Molly Brown had perhaps their best regular-season ever this year, and it came on the back of Chastain’s relentless work ethic. Even as players were settling into new roles on the team, Chastain took on every position that was needed of her, and made her team better while doing so.
You’d think after so many consecutive appearances on this list that Chastain would have exhausted all the accolades being thrown at her, and yet every year she reinvents herself just enough in some new, mesmerizing way. Much was made about Molly Brown taking calculated risks this season, and Chastain’s shot selection illustrated that principle perfectly. No defender had a chance at stopping her throws — they could never know what was coming, anyway. With every season, Denver continues to transform as a team, but Chastain’s their lighthouse in the storm. She continues to guide them to success, year after year.
– Graham Gerhart
Carolyn Finney (San Franciso Fury)
It’s often difficult to stratify the Fury roster in any way. Everyone is so talented and mostly plays in a specific role that prevents them from obvious takeover performances as you might see on other teams. But Finney is so good in her role she transcends her own vitally important cog in the unyielding Fury machine.
Finney was the most important piece to a Fury offense that was the best unit in the division this season. She was their backfield ace and the conductor of a disproportionate number of Fury’s goals. Finney commanded the San Francisco offense and won points with her all-world combination of precision, break throws, and hucks.
Fresh off her 2018 POTY award, Finney was once again one of the best handlers in the game in 2019, and was the only player not on the POTY podium to appear on every All-Club ballot.
– Daniel Prentice
Lauren Kimura (Toronto 6ixers)
Kimura cuts an imposing figure on the field and none of it is false bravado. Her rise to becoming the best Canadian ultimate player has been electric and irrefutable. It was solidified this year as the 6ixers made two national finals.
Toronto’s game completely changes when Kimura is on the field, and it’s entirely clear why. No one is more trusted to make a play or to find an open receiver. Toronto’s cutters don’t have to worry about whether Kimura will make the right play, she just does it naturally. There’s a zen to her game that puts her entire team on balance when she’s in rhythm.
Her offensive gifts are what earned her the OPOTY award this year, but it’s more than that for Kimura. She’s a true field general on both sides of the disc, helping dictate the pace of the game and identifying the weaknesses in her opponents’ gameplay. At any moment, Kimura feels poised to take over a game, and more often than not this season, that’s exactly what she did.
– Kelsey Hayden