2021 Women’s Club Defensive Player of the Year


Celebrate the best defensive performances of the season.

The Ultiworld Women’s Club Awards 2021 are presented by Five Ultimate; all opinions are those of the authors. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and buy from Five Ultimate!

Ultiworld is pleased to announce our annual Women’s Club Awards. While we consider both regular season and playoff performance, due to the nature of the club division, we place a premium on success in the playoffs and national championships – this year even more than most. The Club Awards are selected on the basis of contributions from Ultiworld journalists, contributors and editors.

Player of the year award
Offensive player of the year award
Defensive Player of the Year Award
Best player of the year award (coming later this week!)
Coach of the Year Award (coming later this week!)
First All-Club Team (coming next week!)
Second All-Club Team (coming next week!)

2021 Women’s Club Defensive Player of the Year

Claire Trop (Boston Brute Squad)

Claire Trop from the Boston Brute Squad. Photo: Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com

Following Claire Trop’s rise in the women’s division is like watching a shooting star cross the night sky. She was already astronomical when she started playing at clubs and showed no signs of slowing down. Too much isn’t even close to what many would consider the “first” of her ultimate career, and yet she showed enough of it in 2021 to win one of the most prestigious accolades the sport has to offer. What we saw from Too this year was the complete package: a defender who was able to score any position on the pitch, unearth blocks, win jump ball, and snag blocks on his opponents without to commit fault. What more would you want from a DPOTY?

Even if you thought Trop met the demands of this award with the aforementioned defensive versatility, she still outdid it all, doing it against the opposition’s top cutters. Trop has never shied away from facing a matchup, and it’s telling that the management of the Boston Brute Squad, renowned for their defensive-minded training, trusted Trop to take on the toughest players on the field. Too might not have the most intimidating physical appearance, but it is a nuclear-powered war machine in the field, and its unassuming stature quickly grows imposing as it defeats you with every drive and closes your launch lanes.

The quantifiable measure of defensive impact goes far beyond simple blocks won, but Too is still one of Boston’s top blockers for this season on paper and does so well on the eyesight test that you wonder if you should change. the requirements for it. Her insight on the pitch ensures that she never scores a single player, but watches the pitch to make sure the way she plays on defense helps the team as a whole. Boston is already one of the more communicative teams when it comes to defense, and Too thrives in an environment where they can compartmentalize their defense on the mark and also the assist defense that sets the Brute Squad up for success.

All of Trop’s merits can and should be discussed without reference to her relative youth, but it’s also to her credit that she quickly became the model for Boston’s defensive principles despite having a relatively short time with the team. Let’s not forget that she was a practice player for Space Heater just this year.

All kidding aside, Trop is playing the best defense of her life, and there’s plenty of reason to believe she’s way off her cap. The cropped season only proved how good it got in a short period of time, even without the extra adjustments that come with a full playing season.

All of this to say that Trop probably has more to give. Let Boston have a full year of Ultimate to hone their defensive sets and there’s no doubt that Trop will continue to headline one of the most dangerous defensive lines on the planet.

Graham Gerhart

1st runner finalist

Marika Austin (San Francisco Fury)

Marika Austin of San Francisco Fury.  Photo: William 'Brody' Brotman - UltiPhotos.com
Marika Austin of San Francisco Fury. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

Over the years, one of the most common refrains when it comes to individual player evaluation is that defense is underrated. And among great defenders, save by stoppage is underrated. Good defense can be difficult to see, occurring far from the disc and not involved in play. Add to this that we have little or no data to measure attack stopping efforts, except for the rare few. blocks, the value of which actually varies from game to game.

I say it all to say this: Marika Austin is a stoppage advocate. She is a defender defender. Austin’s tireless work on the D-Line often takes place outside the limelight, beyond the stat sheet, away from the highlight reel, or whatever thankless trope you can create. While it’s true that Austin’s registered three blocks at the national championships wouldn’t even put her atop her own club’s standings, you’d be hard pressed to find a more reliable defenseman on the San Francisco Fury roster. In a team where players are often not lined up in popular offensive and defensive units, Austin is skillfully applied as a blunt instrument of strength, the rare body specialist. She led Fury in defensive points played in their final against Brute Squad and almost did the same in the semifinals against Phoenix. No other Fury player was on the pitch for more breaks in these crucial high-profile clashes, the cornerstones of a short season of breakouts.

To be guarded by Austin must be anxiety-provoking. There is rarely a split window, and the strip shows an extremely high percentage of harassed incoming passes pushed into short wins. Her footwork is exquisite, a fast-paced activity dance that keeps her constantly wrapped around her target’s every move. And there is a kinetic charge in its play, like a Tesla coil buzzing with electricity, blazing with light discharges of explosive athleticism. Her brand of praying mantis saves her talons for disruptive strikes and throwing hits that are likely to surprise.

His place on this list will come as no surprise to players familiar with his work, although it may not be obvious to fans.

Keith raynor

2nd runner-up

Ronnie Eder (Denver Molly Brown)

Ronnie Eder of Denver Molly Brown.  Photo: William 'Brody' Brotman - UltiPhotos.com
Ronnie Eder of Denver Molly Brown. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

Denver Molly Brown has lived up to the hype around her defensive ability this season, and Ronnie Eder’s presence on the pitch was at the heart of it. While she had spent previous seasons in the offensive unit, Eder’s move to the D-line helped Molly Brown bolster her defense and pose a threat to cutters everywhere.

The impact of this movement was immediately noticeable. Eder is sized to match any deep cutter, and a surprisingly lateral quickness that baffles smaller players who would try to beat her with nimble cuts. Eder has a predictive understanding of his opponents that keeps him from being dominated while still allowing him to maximize his size to affect the entire pitch when there.

Eder’s defense isn’t flashy, but it doesn’t have to be. She treats every defensive mission like it’s another day in the office and never seems edgy or anxious despite the adversary. It is quite difficult to play on a defender who is not at all impressed with your attempts at cuts. Eder’s business approach provides a calming influence to his team and keeps them in mind in close games. It’s not her role to make a play that will make the crowd scream out of a risky arrangement – although she can – but instead her focus on the game leads to rushed throws, high numbers of stalls and erroneous cuts, which is precisely when it strikes.

There are a lot of players who cut their teeth with solid defensive principles, Eder makes him so much better than most.

Graham Gerhart