These elite offensive players helped keep the points flowing for their teams.
July 10, 2023 by Chris Cassella and Michael Ball in Awards with 0 comments
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-III Men’s 2023 Offensive Player Of The Year
Will Brandt (St. Olaf)
After winning this award in 2022, Will Brandt definitively defended his crown as the best offensive player in the division this year and is our 2023 Offensive Player of the year.
Brandt’s versatility is what makes him so incredible, and perhaps no game better captured his wide skillset than his performance in the semifinal against Middlebury. He finished the game with 3 goals and 6 assists, a statline that’s stunning without context, but gets even more impressive when you see how he accomplished it. His first assist came while going every other in the handler space, finishing the possession with a big around backhand break. His second assist was a 70 yard backhand huck perfectly in stride. His first goal came on a straight up jump-ball huck that he had no business coming down with. His third assist was a 50 yard flick blade. I won’t do the entire game, but you get the point: Brandt can do it all.
Brandt was the engine that powered St. Olaf on their way to another semifinal appearance. In Brandt’s three seasons with the Berserkers, they’ve finished T-3, 2nd, and T-3 at College Nationals. With Brandt returning to power their offense again next year, expect St. Olaf’s stay at the top of the division to continue.
Lincoln Grench (Colorado College)
There were a lot of reasons for Colorado College’s dominance this year, but among the biggest was Lincoln Grench turning into a top offensive player in the division. Breaking the Wasabi offense was one of the most difficult tasks in the division this year, and Grench was the driving force of that unit. Every offensive point started with an initiation for Grench out of either side or horizontal stack, and despite the defense knowing what was coming, it felt like he was always open. Perhaps most importantly, defenses were keyed in on trying to contain Grench, and Grench showed the discipline to stay within Wasabi’s system and use that additional attention to open up space for his teammates.
There aren’t many weaknesses in Grench’s offensive toolkit, and his production and consistency this year are a reflection of that. Colorado College bring back a lot of talent next year, but they’ll have a big hole to fill on their offense with Grench’s departure.
Jacob Cowan (Grinnell)
There’s a reason why Jacob Cowan was the only active D-III men’s player to be selected to a U24 team this summer. The 6’4 hybrid is one of the few players who truly deserve that label, flowing seamlessly between the handler and cutter spaces. Whether he was handling against a zone or cutting against matchup defense, Cowan always looked like the game was being played at his tempo, never seeming to let his defender dictate his moves. The Grinnellephants’ offense was built around Cowan, and he was more than capable of shouldering that load, putting up a staggering 12 goals and 25 assists at Nationals this year.