Our picks for the top women's division performers of the year across Asia and Oceania.
November 27, 2019 by Ultiworld in Awards with 0 comments
As Ultiworld continues to expand our coverage around the globe, we are learning more and more about the top players from regions we haven’t covered much in the past. For the first time, Ultiworld has put together awards honoring the top performers from Asia and Oceania (AO). The main goal of this project is to recognize the achievements of some of the top players in the region and showcase them to the rest of the world.
A wide range of opinions was sought from across the AO region, but most of the input for this article comes from Ultiworld roving reporter Liam Grant, who worked on the broadcast team for both the grass and beach AO championships this year. As such, it was mostly performances at large international events that were taken into account when putting together this team. With several players switching between divisions from event to event, in most cases, AOUGC was the determinating factor on which division to consider a player.
Without further ado, here are our votes on the best AO Women’s players in 2019. The profiles are presented alphabetically by last name, rather than reflecting any ranked order of skill or performance.
2019 Asia-Oceanic Women’s Team Of The Year
Rosie Dawson – Manly/Sydney Suns (Australia)
Rosie Dawson originally hails from the great surf town of Wollongong but she is best known for tearing it up in the end zone. The captain of the Australia national team scored more goals than anyone else in the women’s division at AOUGC in China. She finished with 21 goals and three assists, tying herself with Cat Phillips on 24 total points for the week, a team high. Dawson had a quiet final, only scoring one goal all game — the final score of the game for the Aussies. Given that their opponents had a serious height disadvantage, the Firetails might have been better off sending it deep to her earlier on.
Dawson travelled to America this summer to compete at the U.S. Open with Ellipsis, finishing in the top 10 in goals scored in the mixed division. Still, the best connection Dawson had all year was actually in the Australian Ultimate League with assist maestro Tom Rogacki. Playing six-on-six, Rosie had acres of space to work with and scored goals for fun. She finished second in the league overall on goals and this was paramount to the Sydney Suns winning the AUL.
Maryviel “Maimai” Dublin – Boracay Pirates (Philippines)
Maryviel Dublin, better known as Maimai or Mai, is from the beach ultimate capital of the world, Boracay. She studied at Aklan Catholic College and lives by the mantra of “Nothing is impossible. Just believe.” She was part of the Philippines mixed team that finished fourth at WCBU 2017 in France, scoring 14 goals and assisting 11 at the event. She looked unstoppable at that event alongside Jean “Khyrrah” Tuvilla who has since moved to New York.
Dublin was arguably the most important player on the Philippines mixed beach team that won AOBUC this year in Japan. Everything went through Maimai as she was completely dominant against every matchup. She could have easily been nominated for the mixed team of the year as well. However, she makes it onto the Women’s team after her thrilling performance in the women’s division at AOUGC in Shanghai. She topped the statistical leaderboard for the whole division by posting a massive 23 assists and three goals. During their 15-14 win over Chinese Taipei, Dublin had four assists and one goal. She combined well with goal-scoring machine Princess Marie Trinidad who scored 19 points across the event.
Shiori Ogawa – MUD (Japan)
Shiori Ogawa started off her season with a bang, winning the AOBUC with the Japanese national team. She had the difficult task of marking up against 2018 AO All-Star teammate Kaede Yoshida during the final. Ogawa is one of the best defenders in Japan and also has a great backhand huck. She threw the winning score on double game point in the final, getting one over her close friend Yoshida.
Ogawa was also a key part of the defensive line for the Japanese women’s team that beat Australia at AOUGC. She threw a big buttery backhand huck to get Japan the first break of the game. It was a match to remember for Shiori Ogawa, not just because of her thrilling performance but because it was also her birthday and there ain’t no better present than a gold medal.
Ogawa now plays club with the national champions MUD, mostly because she wanted to play alongside Risa Shimada, who went to the same university as her. MUD also means “mad” in the japanese pronunciation, which fittingly represents Ogawa’s fighting spirit.
Cat Phillips – Ellipsis (Australia)
Cat Phillips walks onto this dream team which is ironic because she never stops running. With a non-stop sporting life that’s split between pro Aussie rules football and ultimate, the crossover seems to be a strength rather a weakness considering her athletic prowess in both worlds. It won’t be her performances in the St. Kilda kit we’re focused on, but rather the gold and green of the Australian women’s national team, better known as the Firetails.
Philips had a team-high of 19 assists and five goals to boot at the AOUGC in Shanghai. Her physicality is unmatched in the division and she throws with power and confidence. She racked up four assists and two goals in the final against Japan, a bigger contribution than anyone else on the field. Although she was on the losing side in this matchup, many would still consider Phillips to be the best player on the field that day, obviously one of the best players in AO region.
This wasn’t the only silver medal she picked up in 2019, as she made it to the final of USAU nationals with Toronto 6ixers, leading the team in blocks. She also had some stellar performances in the mixed division clocking up 14 assists and 11 goals with Melbourne Ellipsis at the US Open.
Risa Shimada – MUD (Japan)
Risa Shimada was born and raised in Toyama and is the captain of the club team MUD, who are national champions. Like many top Japanese players, she began her ultimate career at Nippon Sport Science University, back in 2012. She grabbed international attention back in 2015 when she was a key part of the Japanese team that took down a stacked USA side in a thrilling final at the World U23 Championships in London. At the age of 24, she was then selected for the Japan World Games team that competed in Poland in 2017.
Shimada continued to flourish at AOUGC in China this year, winning a gold medal over Australia. Shimada accumulated an impressive 13 assists and 12 goals during the tournament, leading her squad in stats. Her two assists and three goals in the final were crucial in taking down the Firetails. That wasn’t the only gold medal she won this summer, as she also picked up another one on home sand at AOBUC with many of the same players. Expect Shimada to reach her peak at WUGC next year.
Yuko Suzuki – MUD (Japan)
Yuko Suzuki is better known as “Hiroshi” because she hails from the city of Hiroshima. Like many of her teammates, she played basketball in high school as her primary sport before taking up ultimate. She graduated from Nippon Sport Science University after a strong college ultimate career playing for the Barbarians. Since then, Suzuki’s become renowned for having great throwing form.1
This year, Suzuki captained the Japanese women’s beach national team to a first place finish at AOBUC. She also was sensational for the Women’s team at AOUGC in Shanghai. She scored 11 goals and had 9 assists over the duration of the tournament. Suzuki really turned it on in the final, throwing two assist and catching three goals, the same as her club teammate Risa Shimada. She also scored the gold-medal-winning goal against Australia, which is a moment she will never forget.
Kaede Yoshida – Tokyo Mavericks/Seattle Riot (Japan)
Kaede Yoshida first exploded onto the scene in 2018 playing for Japan at the U24 championship in Perth, where she made arguably the best play of the tournament, earning an out-of-nowhere layout block against Manuela Cardenas. Later on that year, Yoshida took part in the inaugural Asia Oceanic All-Star Tour where she and her other country women played exceptionally.
In 2019, Yoshida and her team Heisei Vegegriffons (now called the Tokyo Mavericks) almost caused the upset of the tournament at AOBUC in Shirahama falling to the Japan national team side on double game point in the final. After going 5-1 down, the Vegegriffons brought out there unusual four-person cup, leaving captain Yoshida all alone to cover the entire downfield space. Yoshida made play after play, shooting through the sky like a flying squirrel. She has a booming flick that helped her squad score upwind, but Japan was just too strong at the end and Yoshida couldn’t get the win over her all star teammate Shiori Ogawa.
After bonding with the AO All-Sars head coach Alyssa Weatherford, Yoshida decided to tryout for world champions Seattle Riot for the 2019 U.S. club season. After making the team, Yoshida found herself on the Riot offensive line several times during the season. It was clear that she has the talent to be one of the best players in the world, even as she adjusted to the American style of play. Yoshida had an incredible 2019 and has showcased what Japanese ultimate has to offer.