Every now and then I see a player shine in a game and I’m left speechless. Andrea Esparza (#5 on Austin Torch) put together one of those games last weekend in the Torch’s game against Atlanta Soul.
The game film is here:
One of the ideas that’s a little hard to capture in the highlight film format I like to use is how versatile Esparza is on D. She was everywhere D during the game – what really impressed me is that she was as effective (and comfortable) guarding handlers as she was guarding downfield cutters. If you are a younger player looking to watch and learn from Esparza’s play, this versatility might be the most important lesson. Don’t pigeonhole yourself into specific positions on O or D. Play all the positions, guard all the players and someday you, too, will be just as comfortable guarding Mira Walker as you are guarding Cate Woodhurst!
On to the game.
The first clip I wanted to show involves Esparza in the center handler position on O (after an Atlanta turn) helping her team move down the field. I stopped the clip at a travel call, but even in this short clip you’ll see immediately that Esparza is great at finding the right player with her throws and also great at attacking open space with her cuts:
The next clip shows Esparza moving the disc down the field with a big flick immediately after a turn. I love the attacking decision here, and really love how fast she gets down the field after this huck to help. The long forehand goes up from the corner of the endzone at 0:07 in the film and Esparza gets the disc on dump at the 50 yard line 10 second later.
If you are guarding Esparza, you better not be sitting around watching!
He’s a clip of her handler D while guarding Cate Woodhurst. You can see how hard Woodhurst has to work both to get an inch of separation and then to get off the dump pass.
I love Esparza’s movement to fill the throwing lane immediately after Woodhurst’s pass goes up, too:
I think the lead in from Miranda Roth Knowles is the best way to introduce this next clip -> “Watch Esparza run the show on this point.” Indeed – DAMN.
Finally, a play you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Probably the most exciting end to an ultimate game that I’ve ever seen. There are 8 seconds left on the clock when the disc is put in play here, and Austin (pulling!) is down by 1 . . . .
That last play is going to get lots of attention – and it deserves every bit – but Esparza’s entire game was incredible. Again, if you are a young player looking to learn from some of the best players in the game, take some time to watch Andrea Esparza. You’ll learn a ton.