The Ultimate Women’s Dream Team

by | August 9, 2012, 5:18pm 0

With contributions by the Skyd staff.

With Fury taking the silver medal home at the recent WUGC tournament along with Lou Burruss’s strong argument for the shift to national teams, it seems like a good time to look at what an “All-Star” Team USA would look like in the Women’s Division. In selecting our Dream Team, we took a top-down approach. With the amount of talent on the team, poor chemistry seems like the only thing that could derail it, so we looked the best leadership possible. We picked Gwen Ambler of Riot, Liz Duffy of Ozone, and Lindsey Hack of Phoenix as captains. With years of experience playing on and captaining the top teams, as well as coaching and giving back to the sport, these are three of the most respected players in the game. All three have the ability to play just about any position on the field for this team at any time (including starting), so don’t think we are ignoring their on field contributions – those will be tremendous. Instead, we want to highlight the importance of strong leadership. With Ambler, Duffy, and Hack working to bring this team together, Team USA will be stronger than the sum of its parts.

Having selected the captains, we moved on to selecting the starting offensive and defensive lines. The chosen captains could also be slotted into these lines.  The Women’s Division doesn’t break down as easily into O and D lines as the Dpen side does, and we expect all players to be making contributions on both O and D, but for the sake of discussion:

Starting Offense:

Alex Snyder (Fury)
Leila Tunnell (Phoenix)
Jenny Fey (Scandal)
Alicia White (Scandal)
Cree Howard (Fury)
Liz Penny (Fury)
Calise Cardenas (Riot)

Starting Defense:

Nancy Sun (Fury)
Rohre Titcomb (Riot)
Georgia Bosscher (Heist)
Octavia Payne (Scandal)
Enessa Janes (Molly Brown)
Sarah Griffith (Riot)
Hana Kawai (Riot)

How we see the O:

It is hard to think how you’d even begin to defend this team. The combination of throwing skills, speed, and brains would present an enormous problem for any opponent to solve. If you try to match up individually, you’ll have to figure out how to deal with the downfield cutters. If you stay behind them, you’ll have Alex Snyder hitting Liz Penny in the middle of the field. She’ll then be turning and looking for Alicia White or Cree Howard. In other words, if you stay behind the cutters, you’ll be giving some of Fury’s best players the chance to do what they do best. If you stay in front of the cutters, you are leaving the back of the field open for Leila Tunnell to throw to Calise Cardenas. Since Tunnell’s got the throws to put the disc just about anywhere on the field, and Cardenas has field sense to set herself for great cuts and the speed to get anywhere on the field – fronting the cutters doesn’t seem so great either.

If you somehow shut down Snyder’s underneath throws and Tunnell’s deep throws, you’ve still got Jenny Fey to deal with. At July’s US Open, Fey had 30 assists, double the number of  anyone else in the women’s division. She knows how to keep the disc moving, she knows how to find the open cutters, and she knows how to get the disc in the endzone better than anyone else. If the “only” thing you’ve got to do is stop her – good luck.

The handler skills on this team make it seem like coming down in zone D would be a terrible idea.  Still, though, some teams might go for it.  We think this team is set up perfectly to run the two handler zone O describe by Lou Burruss here:

Snyder and Tunnell are almost the perfect pair for staying back to handle. Jenny Fey will move down field and play a little out of position. However, since she’s either going to be catching Snyder’s inside out flicks or Tunnell’s hammers and turning to look at numbers mismatches with the best cutters in the game, we think it’ll take her about two seconds to get used to this new position. We’d probably keep White and Penny close to the disc, creating targets for Snyder and Tunnell and then have Cardenas and Howard deep to use their speed to take advantage of the open space and numbers mismatch once the disc gets to the middle of the field. The prospects for zone O slowing down this team? Dismal.

How we see the D:

In a word: insane. With Janes, Griffith, Payne, Kawai and Bosscher, we’ve probably got 5 of the 10 fastest women in the US club game starting on the D line. Given that they are also some of the smartest defenders, it’s hard to imagine how the downfield cutters are even going to begin to get open.  After a few practices together to get the team D to gel, the entire downfield space is going to be covered and every pass is going to be challenged.  Few, if any, teams are going to be able to survive the constant pressure down field. With Titcomb on the line, the other team is going to be have to deal with this pressure starting 10 yards deep in their own endzone. Finally, the team rounds out with Nancy Sun who has been one of the top D line handlers for the last decade.

After the turn, the team is equally insane and could probably just as easily be the starting O line! Although there’s only two pure handlers, Bosscher and Payne can easily come back and handle. On short turns, you’ll probably be looking at Sun finding Bosscher as in this game against Riot at 2012 Solstice:

On long turns, just about any of the cutters will be open for big deep cuts like this one from Griffith in the US Open:

In other words, after a turn, expect the disc to get to the endzone quickly.


Beyond the starters and the captains, we looked around for top players who would bring even more talent to the team.  On offense we settled on Angela Lin of Ozone, Cara Crouch of Showdown, and Anna Nazarov of Fury.  All three have been dominant players in the women’s division for years (with Anna taking one year off from Women’s to win Mixed with Blackbird) and can fill in anywhere the team would need them.

On defense,our three backups are Amber Sinicrope of Brute Squad, Shannon O’Malley of Riot, and Skyla Sisco who has been primarily playing in the mixed division. Sinicrope and O’Malley bring amazing defensive quickness that will be particularly important against the speedy handlers of Japan.  Sisco is not the most well known player, but has an almost unparalleled athletic pedigree having played in the WNBA. We think Sisco’s overall athleticism and experience will lead to a remarkable contribution to the team.

As for coaching, we felt that there were really only two choices to consider. The first is Matty Tsang, a man who has seven championships with Fury.  He’s got the skill to manage a team like this as well as the necessary respect from the players.  The other is Jennifer “JD” Donnelly, the legendary player and coach whose last coaching work was getting the gold medal with the US Women’s Masters team.  Either is a great choice, and the only distinction we could come up with was that if the team had a long time to practice and work together, Matty would be the right choice, but if time was limited, JD would work really well.

Beyond this team, it seemed like a good idea to bring younger players into the mix as part of a development squad for future teams.  The list of players in this category generated a tremendous amount of discussion, but the four we came up with were Katy Craley (Oregon 2011, Further, Riot), Kirsten Gruver (Washington, Riot),  Maggie Ruden (Sonoma State, Fury), and Kami Groom (Washington University, RevoLOUtion).  Check out Skyd’s interview of Kami Groom at 2011 Club Nationals here:

Who else?

With the team selected, now comes the fun part. Who did we leave out? There are a bunch of women we considered, here are just a few:

Kaela Jorgenson (Fury)
Lakshmi Narayan (Fury)
Kate Wilson (Ozone)
Alyssa Weatherford (Riot)
Kath Ratcliff  (Molly Brown)
Robyn Fennig (Heist)
Katherine Wooten (Ozone)
Courtney Kiesow (Heist)
Cate Foster (Phoenix)
Emily Damon (Fury)

What would you change? What did we get right? What did we get (horribly) wrong?

Thanks to Henrik Meng for the photo of Heist/Team USA’s Georgia Bosscher.

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