We've narrowed it down to the eight best catches of 2021 caught on tape.
February 16, 2022 by Keith Raynor in Awards, Opinion with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s 2021 Catch of the Year bracket is presented by Friction Gloves; all opinions are those of the author. Want to make highlights of your own? Try Friction Gloves!
One of our most popular series to begin each year, it’s time to look back at last year and let our readers decide some of the top plays of the year from 2021.
We begin by deciding the champion of our Catch of the Year bracket. We watched many hours of game footage and highlight reels to hunt down the catches, completions, grabs, snags, and everything else; believe us, there were more than enough options to fill up this bracket, so even some worthy nominees were left on the cutting room floor. Over the next week, we’re inviting you, the Ultiworld readers, to vote for your favorite of the finalists selected.
Check out all of the nominees and vote below, then check back to see which clips advance for another opportunity to participate. The first round of voting starts now and closes on Friday, February 18th at noon Eastern.
We Have Reached Cruising Altitude: Babbitt vs. Jorgensen
Skies with such elevation that the opponent can now use approved electronic devices.
Jeff Babbitt – Philadelphia Phantom (USAU Club)
“Never tell me the odds,” is one of the most famous lines of dialogue from the Star Wars film franchise, and perhaps Babbitt’s a big fan. His chances against a trio of defenders with the game on the line at Mid-Atlantic Regionals might not have been mathematically positive, but that type of logic simply doesn’t fly with the likes of Babbitt. The impact from this grab was like a star destroyer blast, and maybe that final defender saw the disc, then Babbitt’s sizable frame, and thought “That’s no moon.” But it was too late.
Sandy Jorgensen – Washington DC Sweet Cat (USAU Club)
Just another defender who fell victim of getting in the way of the indomitable Sandy Jorgensen. While she might not be one of the game’s centerpiece players at this point in her career, she’s still a threat to put anybody on a poster, anytime, anywhere. Even you, right now — check behind you. Ok, you’re good, but close one. When this huck went up at Richmond Cup, those unfamiliar with Jorgensen’s catalog of work might have thought the defender in superior position was the favorite to come away with the disc. The rest of us know better.
2021 Catch of the Year: Round 1, Matchup 1 (Results)
- Jeff Babbitt47%
- Sandy Jorgensen53%
Built Seattle Different: Hecko vs. Venneri
Just another pair of young stars from the Emerald City.
Abby Hecko – Washington Element (USAU College)
North Carolina may have won both divisions of the D-I College Championships, but Abby Hecko might have won the hearts of the fans. Her star turn in Norco included a variety of highlights, but this spotlight sky took the cake. Her team was desperately in need of a spark, and while she couldn’t reactivate Washington against UNC, she showed she can go toe to toe — or toe-to-waist — with even the best players. A sky over the best defender in the country will do that.
Tony Venneri – Washington Sundodgers (USAU College)
Not a bad year for Tony Venneri: Runner-up for Breakout Player of the Year in the Club, runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in D-I; and maybe Catch of the Year? The layout catch he put on tape at the US Open against Chicago Machine is a worthy candidate, a sprinting sailing catch that required even some extra adjustments after Venneri got airborne. A swinging overhand catch was required for the goal, but Venneri was up to the challenge.
2021 Catch of the Year: Round 1, Matchup 2 (Results)
- Abby Hecko52%
- Tony Venneri48%
All Pros, No Cons: Lippincottt vs. Strick
Two memorable semi-pro highlights that don’t come with downsides.
Kody Lippincott – Arizona Sidewinders (WUL)
The most memorable highlight from a fun Western Ultimate League debut, Lippincott’s long layout took just about every inch she could squeeze out. The cutter got a full lean in as she approached the disc before getting air for a full extension emphatic score in the Sidewinders upset bid against the highly touted San Francisco Falcons. Sportscenter chose it as the #7 play in their top 10, always a good barometer for a highlight’s visual appeal.
Keila Strick – Milwaukee Monarchs (PUL)
The signature moment of the PUL’s shortened 2021, Keila Strick came up in the clutch with this dramatic buzzer-beating grab. Strick’s long been known for sticky glove-clad hands, no stranger to making tough catches in traffic, but none have been as timely as this one. Through a pile of players,, she sized up the disc just right, and finish the play with a grip so tight it survived the disc warping above her head. As the clock struck zero, Strick tied the championship match up, forcing the game to overtime, where Milwaukee defeated Columbus to win the Midwest.
2021 Catch of the Year: Round 1, Matchup 3 (Results)
- Kody Lippincott72%
- Keila Strick28%
Big Plays at the Big Show: Rhyne vs. Gordon
If you’re going to the championships, might as well go big big.
Jordan Rhyne – Philadelphia AMP (USAU Club)
When AMP faced off with Slow in the prequarter round of the Club Championships, the Philadelphia club was in a bind. They finished third in their pool on day one, closing the day with a loss. But Jordan Rhyne was having no more of that. You’ve heard about good help defense; how about some good help offense? It seems like everyone in the zip code had better position than Rhyne as they tried to size this one up, but his read — an outrageous, but correct, estimation of his own leaping prowess — was simply the best one there.
Archer Gordon – NC State Alpha (USAU College)
While many of our top catches are for scores, sometimes, it takes an incredible play just to keep your team’s chance to score alive. Archer Gordon made one such play, with his team in a potentially dire situation at the College Championships. Had they failed to score, they would have faced an 8-4 at halftime of their pool play game vs. upstart Tulane, endangering their chances of reaching the bracket. But Gordon’s cat-quick reaction time to get off the ground and into the air for a saving catch helped his team stay within reach in a game they would come back to win on double game point.
2021 Catch of the Year: Round 1, Matchup 4 (Results)
- Jordan Rhyne52%
- Archer Gordon48%