Photo by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com
Morgan Hibbert, captain of the Vancouver Nighthawks, has once again showed us why he is the most feared defender in Major league Ultimate.[bc width=”628px” height=”360″]http://tv.mlultimate.com/detail/videos/2015-plays-of-the-week/video/4290953104001/2015-week-8—defensive-play-of-the-week[/bc]
The first thing to note about this play is that, unlike other teams do when using the MLU rule that allows you to pull from half field after calling a time-out, the Nighthawks elected to to go for a high throw rather than a roller.
Hibbert, who always takes the pull when he is on the field, explains this strategy.
“My thinking is that the main goal of this maneuvre is to trap them in the back corner of the end zone. By throwing it high I give my defenders enough time to run down and cover everyone before the other team gets the disc, preventing them from completing that first pass.”
This time the Nighthawks couldn’t prevent that first pass, leading to what would have been a very productive huck if ‘Morgatron’ hadn’t stepped up.
Hibbert possesses two sets of attributes that make him such a great defender.
The first, a lethal combination of size and speed, is readily apparent as you watch the play unfold. Check out Hibbert’s closing speed as he runs down the disc and then leaps to snatch it out of the air, well above the surprised Seattle player.
You can’t see the second set of attributes — intelligence, experience, and a great sense of anticipation — at all in the video, because their expression happens off-screen well away from the disc. Even as his teammates were failing to stop the first Seattle pass completion, he anticipated what was about to happen next and left his own man to fill the hole in the defense he had perceived.
“I was spying the thrower the whole time. The thrower saw what I saw, an open receiver downfield. As soon as he wound up to throw, I took off. I knew he was throwing it before he released it.”
So far this season Hibbert has taken the field for 178 plays, a full 25 more than any other player in MLU. The ability to make plays like this is a big reason why.
The Nighthawks next game is on Sunday, June 14th at 1 p.m. PDT in San Francisco against the Dogfish. Their next home game is against those same Dogfish on Saturday, June 20 at 6:00 p.m. at Thunderbird Stadium.
You can buy tickets to the game here.