Offense is so 2020. Let's talk best blocks of 2021.
March 2, 2022 by Keith Raynor in Awards, Opinion with 0 comments
One of our most popular series each year, it’s time to look back at last year and let our readers decide some of the top plays of the year.
First up this year is our Block of the Year bracket. We watched many hours of game footage and highlight reels to hunt down the best defensive plays we could find; 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. Now we’re inviting you, the Ultiworld readers, to vote for your favorite of the finalists selected.
On to the bracket and the candidates. The first round of voting starts now and closes on Thursday, March 3 at 4PM Eastern.
You Shall Not Pass: Jagt vs. Cardenas
The most incredible defensive plays to hold the endzone line.
Ben Jagt – New York Empire (AUDL)
We’ve already seen the defining plays of the Premier and Western Ultimate Leagues’ 2021 competition in our Catch and Throw bracket, and perhaps Jagt’s game-saving block tops the list for the AUDL. In a tie game in the playoffs, with precious few seconds remaining, the New York big man protected the end zone on a must-have block. If he doesn’t get to this, their season is over. But he did and in spectacular fashion.
Valeria Cardenas – Medellin RevoPro (PUL)
Perhaps Valeria Cardenas was inspired by her opponent, Ronnie Eder, making a tremendous catch, but whatever overtook the Colombian star, it helped her take flight for a goal-denying D. What was supposed to be an easy continue, a classic look that puts huckers into the hockey assist column, turned in a highlight reel block for Cardenas, who led RevoPro to an event win.
Block of the Year 2022 (Round 1, Matchup 1) (Results)
- Ben Jagt49%
- Valeria Cardenas51%
This Won’t Take Long: Brown vs. Searles-Bohs
Hope you don’t like lengthy offensive possessions, for either side.
Ed Brown – Con10ent Tour (Black Showcase Tour)
The Con10ent Tour was about a lot more than good ultimate, but Ed Brown was definitely down to put a highlight on wax. Pulls are tough to fit in, but this one was a big part of the play. And you could put Jaws’ or Michael Myers’ theme to this one as Brown sees the situation develop, steps on the gas, and he recognizes the opportunity to vault himself into one of the best plays of the year.
Liam Searles-Bohs – North Carolina Darkside (USAU College)
Searles-Bohs was fairly casual when discussing one of the most explosive plays of the College Championships, stating matter-of-factly that he saw the build-up, baited the throw, and went after it once it went up. Taking on the team that was supposed to be their primary competition for a title in the quarterfinals could have been cause for intimidation, but after this exclamation point of a callahan, something tells me it wasn’t LSB’s team who was feeling concerned about the strength of the opposition.
Block of the Year 2022 (Round 1, Matchup 2) (Results)
- Ed Brown34%
- Liam Searles-Bohs66%
Living Up to the Reputation: Bansfield vs. Culton
Two of the brightest defensive stars in the game showing why their names are well known.
Johnny Bansfield – Chicago Machine (USAU Club)
No stranger to the Block of the Year bracket, Bansfield can improve on his second round showing in 2019 in this year’s bracket. Layout handblocks are a rarity in their own right, but ones that end the other team’s season and save your own? Those are unicorns.
Dawn Culton – North Carolina Pleaides (USAU College)
Nobody put together a better package of candidates for this bracket than the 2021 D-I Defensive Player of the Year, Dawn Culton. If it were done in aggregate, she’d win in a landslide. But of them all, this one was the biggest. Marvel at the elevation and ferocity.
Block of the Year 2022 (Round 1, Matchup 3) (Results)
- Johnny Bansfield46%
- Dawn Culton54%
A Little Bit Is Enough: Kocher vs. Rippe
A little touch can be all a great defender needs to make the play.
Chris Kocher – New York PoNY (USAU Club)
This one – let’s face it – is for the ultimate nerds. This wasn’t a splashy display of explosive power, as many beat-drop blocks are, but rather a show of timing and control. Kocher managed to do the job of keeping the disc away from the receiver all without making call-inducing contact, despite going up against a good receiver, in good position, with a good throw. It’s the unusual case of great defense outperforming great offense.
Mary Rippe – Raleigh Phoenix (USAU Club)
Mary Rippe came up big in Phoenix’s semifinal against Fury with this block. She timed her takeoff perfectly, getting just enough lean and leap to kiss plastic with her fingertips. The contact just tipped the flight enough to force a turnover, making it clear that any less from Rippe, any centimeter or millisecond lost, could have been a completion to a then-uncovered receiver.
Block of the Year 2022 (Round 1, Matchup 4) (Results)
- Chris Kocher44%
- Mary Rippe56%