2022 D-I Women’s Offensive Player of the Year

The most successful offensive players of the 2022 season.

Ultiworld’s 2022 College Awards are presented by the National Ultimate Training Camp; all opinions are those of the author(s). NUTC helps young players become better athletes and community members.

Each year, Ultiworld presents our annual College Awards. Our staff evaluates the individual performances of players from throughout the season, talking to folks around college ultimate, watching film, and look at statistics, voting upon the awards to decide those to be honored. The regular season and the college Series are both considered, with extra emphasis for performances in the competitive and high-stakes environment at Nationals.

Our awards continue with the Offensive Player of the Year, recognizing the individual, and two runners-up, who we felt had the most impactful and productive seasons helping their teams score. They set up goals, finished off points, and produced yardage at consistently high levels against the top defenders.

D-I Women’s 2022 Offensive Player Of The Year

Ava Hanna (UC San Diego)

UC San Diego's Ava Hanna at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford -- UltiPhotos.com
UC San Diego’s Ava Hanna at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Compared to years past, UCSD didn’t have as many talented veterans on their roster as they did when the team was at the top of their game –but they still had Ava Hanna. The San Diego native was a force unto herself. If a receiver was open on the field — and sometimes even when they weren’t — Ava Hanna could find them, it was that simple. Her range of throws was almost impossible to gameplan for, and assists came as naturally to her as breathing. There wasn’t a tournament that Hanna attended where she didn’t immediately change the layout of the field, an effect that few others players could claim.

It’s a testament to Hanna’s ability that most teams at Nationals fell back on running zone against her. Let’s make one thing clear, too: those zones were intentionally deployed to stop her in particular. The Box-and-One was run so often against UCSD that you’d think it was invented just to slow Hanna down. While these ploys worked to some extent, Hanna still led the tournament in assists, so it begs one simple questions: was there anything that could really stop Ava Hanna?

UCSD asked a lot of their star handler, and she was up to the challenge. In fact, it appeared that Hanna was able to elevate her ability in tighter games. Against tougher opponents who limited the outlets UCSD had on offense, Hanna doubled down on her own talents and made play after play to keep her team in the game. That tenacity made UCSD one of the most dangerous teams to play in the division, and cemented Hanna as 2022’s OPOTY.

First Runner-Up

Alex Barnett (North Carolina)

North Carolina's Alex Barnett at the 2022 D-I College Championships.
North Carolina’s Alex Barnett at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

To the extent that a second team All-American can ever be overshadowed, it seems like the full extent of Alex Barnett’s impact on North Carolina had previously been obscured by the presence of the antecedent main handler of the Pleiades offense. Given the reigns to the UNC O-line this season after leading the D-line in the fall, Barnett picked up right where her predecessor left off, putting up a POTY-podium-worthy performance in helping lead the best team in the country. During North Carolina’s repeat title run, not once did the moment ever look to large for Barnett, even against the toughest defenders in the nation.

While she was consistently excellent all spring for UNC, for anyone still questioning Barnett’s top-of-the-division bonafides heading into Nationals, her run through the bracket in Milwaukee left absolutely no remaining doubt — the Pleiades handler posted at least six combined goals and assists in every one of UNC’s three bracket games, a total no other player reached even twice at that stage of theweeknd. But her output was about far more than just the end product. Her consistency with her disc skills and in getting open around the disc was the antidote to the stiff breeze and challenging defensive schemes met in Milwaukee, providing a reassuring outlet for her team every time they needed it.

Second Runner-Up

Madison Ong (British Columbia)

British Columbia's Madison Ong at the 2022 D-I College Championships.
British Columbia’s Madison Ong at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

The best offensive players typically have some combination of outstanding consistency, a signature move or throw, and an innate field sense—Madison Ong had all three in spades. As the primary handler for an up-and-coming UBC Thunderbirds team, Ong picked apart opposing defenses with gorgeous cross-field backhands and touchy inside throws, which often managed to find their way through despite the presence of multiple defenders. At Nationals, she put up nearly twice as many assists as any of her teammates, and was always available for a reset that frequently led into a slicing throw to the endzone. For a young Thunderbirds team, Ong brought veteran savvy and play-making vision which led UBC to success once again.

  1. Graham Gerhart
    Graham Gerhart

    Graham Gerhart is a Senior Staff Writer at Ultiworld, focusing primarily on the Women's and Mixed divisions. Graham graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa after playing 4 years with the UCT Flying Tigers. He now lives and works full time in San Diego. Follow him on twitter @JustGrahamG

  2. Steve Sullivan
    Steve Sullivan

    Steve Sullivan is the Executive Editor of Ultiworld. He began playing in 2001 at Boston University, helped found and then played 14 seasons with Slow White, and most recently competed with San Francisco Blackbird. He has volunteered as a college Sectional Coordinator, a club Regional Coordinator, served three terms as a player-elected representative for the Mixed division on USAU's Club Working Group, and is currently an At-Large rep on the USAU Board of Directors. He has previously written for the USAU magazine and The Huddle, and was editor of the book "Ultimate: The First Five Decades, Vol II." You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@sjsully21).

  3. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.

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