Rupal Ghelani || The 5 Toughest Matchups I've Faced
Ollie Peterson – NZL Women’s 2019 – U24 Worlds
I think Peterson is one of my favorite matchups to date! I would say that Peterson and I play in a similar manner, except her turning circle is RIDICULOUS, and she’s super speedy! My coach told me to force her toward the disc, but then she just kept putting up these dreamy and devastating throws, so it was back to square one of just playing gritty D. As the game went on, we found our groove, and the matchup became a bit more even. We had to bring out every trick in the book to get free on O and to contain each other on D. New Zealand took the win on universe, and I don’t think a scoreline has ever reflected a matchup I’ve had so accurately. Peterson was hands-down my favorite matchup of the tournament. She’s the real deal: great upfield, great behind the disc, and capable of making big athletic plays and putting her body on the line. Given that she is an athlete who is small in stature, she goes to show that you can be a top athlete without the height! Thank you for bringing out the best in me and making me WORK.
Nyna Prevost – CAN Women’s 2019 – U24 Worlds
Pure. Pace. Nyna Prevost is pure pace. Marry that up with beautiful throws and the quickest handler movement I’ve ever seen, and you get an all-around boss player. Great Britain’s game against Canada at Worlds was amazing for so many reasons; they’re all incredible athletes and role models. We were on one of the stadium pitches, so there were family and friends watching, and the mixed team also came over to support. While we did our best to run with them, Canada showed us why they deserved that Bronze medal. I had so many fun matchups during that game, but Prevost is the one that sticks in my mind. She demonstrated how to use your speed properly, and even though she played as a handler, it was safer to try and keep Prevost behind the disc and throwing rather than cutting. Matching up against her was like running endless shuttles. For me, the best thing to do was try to play big and bait some of the blocks. Although this did work, it was not sustainable. Sometimes you just have to stand and applaud a player, and this was definitely one of those moments!
Irene Scazzieri – Italy Women's – EUC 19
If you’ve watched any European Ultimate, you’ll know who Irene Scazzieri is. She’s fast and fearless. Her strengths lie in striking deep and grabbing discs over you in the air, regardless of how tall you are. I’m not the tallest player, so if any disc went above our heads, Scazzieri won it. I had to force her toward the disc and make her throw rather than cut. Pushing Scazzieri out of her comfort zone helped contain her and minimize her scoring, but she's too talented to contain for an entire game. Marking Scazzieri was a huge mental battle, as her determination was a big part of the game’s energy. I'm so happy I got the opportunity to match up with her not once but twice, at both EUC and WU24. I’m happy with how I contained Scazzieri throughout the game, but her tenacity and determination are what make her the best in Europe. I hope this was not the last time we play each other. I have a lot to learn from her and thoroughly enjoyed the matchup.
Ellie Taylor – SCRAM (UK)
Ellie is a good friend of mine; I got to know her in 2014 when we played U20s together, and as soon as she stepped foot on the pitch I knew she was something special. She’s one of the nicest people you will meet, but matching up against her is a complete nightmare. Ellie’s not just a deep cutter; she’s got mad turning speed. She will get any disc you throw under to her. We’re quite similar, and when you mark someone you know well, it’s always challenging. Her mental toughness is great, and we know how to push each other to our limits. We’ve also matched up at pretty much every level—uni, GB training, club, women’s, mixed—and while it’s always difficult, Ellie makes every matchup enjoyable. One game that stands out to me is our crossover into the top eight at Uni Women’s Indoor Nationals in 2018, where she was pivotal to her team’s (Aberdeen) success. Containment was key. While Aberdeen went away with the win, Ellie is someone who will always play with so much respect for her opponent. I have a lot of respect for her work ethic, her passion, and her desire, but I MUCH prefer playing with her to playing against her.
Naomi Morcilla – Canada U20/U24 Women’s
I’ve played against Naomi Morcilla twice—once at WJUC 2014 and once at WU24 2018. Morcilla is so gritty. She plays with her heart on her sleeve and is the definition of leaving it all on the pitch. In 2014, when GB played Canada, I remember thinking, “Why does she keep beating me?” No joke, there is video evidence of Morcilla beating me into the endzone and scoring twice. She was quick and smart, and that is what stood out to me the most. Fast forward to 2018 at WU24 in Perth, and I was marking Morcilla again (not that I knew it at the time), and the same thing that had happened in 2014 occurred: She cut diagonally across the pitch into the endzone and beat me to the far cone. At that moment, I knew that I was marking the same player I had marked four years earlier. I had to be smart and on my feet the entire time and just grind hard and push her to her limits in the hope that she would tire. You can’t teach grit and heart. That comes from within a person, and Morcilla has so much of it, making her difficult to mark. She’s my favorite type of matchup, and I love watching her play on the streams! It says a lot when you can recognize someone from how they play and a signature move.