Friday, July 31, 2015

Major League Mashup: Aug. 1, 2015

Feature: New York Titans By Sam Scarfone
As it currently stands, the New York Titans have only played one set of games against the Washington Admirals and have yet to face the Ottawa Black Bears or the Boston Night Riders. Their record is 2-1, which may surprise some. The Admirals are by no means a weak team, but when placed against the Titans I would have put money on the Titans to win every game in the set. Perhaps the Admirals tired themselves out too quickly in the first game, or perhaps the Titans played a bit sloppy and pulled it together in the next two games; perhaps it was both of these reasons, but perhaps it is indicative of a larger issue within the Titans.

Photo Courtesy of Isabella Gong Photography
There is a clear divide amongst the players on the Titans, which has led to poor team chemistry. Michael Parada, Amanda Dallas, and Augustine Monroe all offer their own strengths to the team and all serve their roles as key players, but as leaders I’m not sure they have done all they can to ensure great team chemistry. I have noticed some of their playing styles and attitudes toward the game have left other players a bit jaded. This is through no fault of their own, necessarily. Rather, it is representative of the big issue with the Titans that a lot of their players come from a wide range of areas. The team features players from the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Great Lakes, Southwest, West, and even France. I’m not saying players from different regions cannot play well together, nor am I saying these players are not all extremely talented. The Titans boast perhaps the second most talented team in the league, barring the Night Riders. But they lack chemistry and history with each other. When looking at the Night Riders’ roster, a bulk of the team comes from Tufts University, Emerson College (ECQ), and Q.C. Boston: The Massacre. The team is made up of players who, for the most part, know each other well and know how to play with one another. The Titans feature a more diverse cast of players who all have their own regional playing style, attitude, and leadership differences, and a majority of them have not played with each other at much length. This may change, though, as they still have only played one set of games together and have had more time to adapt, meaning the Titans may become a more fluid and cohesive team. Key Players Augustine Monroe, arguably the best keeper currently in the game, is a large part of what makes this team so threatening. Monroe’s vast knowledge of the game and his ability to assess situations as they are presented to him, mixed with his level of physicality, makes him extremely difficult to counter. When paired with former Team USA chaser Michael Parada, the two create extreme offensive pressure. Parada excels at making space and fast cuts near the hoops, which compliments Monroe’s playing style. Both sport impressive minds toward the game, offering the ability to assess risks and make on-the-fly decisions that blow open holes in opposing defenses. The Titans also have Andrew Zagelbaum and Edgar Pavlovsky as seekers, both touting impressive seeking records. While neither really have a mindset for seeking like Harry Greenhouse does, they both provide a mix of good speed and excellent reach. The Titans also feature an impressive female chaser line with strong players such as Missy Hanley and Colleen O’Mara, but perhaps their strongest female chaser one many players may not recognize is Rutgers Nearly Headless Knights’ Lindsay Marella. Marella has come out hot in the MLQ series, proving to be an invaluable asset. She offers a level of athleticism and physicality crucial to her ability as a chaser. She can not only take hits, but she can dish out tackles like nobody’s business. Beyond her physical capabilities, Marella also has fantastic spacial awareness; she is capable of roughing her way past defenses to get open for passes. Perhaps the only thing truly holding her back in this area is that although she can get open, she struggles to find herself in a position where she can then receive a pass. This is the mental part of quidditch: looking and assessing situations, finding opportunities, and exploiting them. If Marella continues to improve in this field as I think she will, since her growth through the MLQ season has been rapid, then we could be looking at the Hannah DeBaets of the Mid-Atlantic Region. And, of course, any great team is only as strong as its beater corps. Luckily, the Titans offer an array of beater talent. While it may not be as hyper-offensive as the Night Riders, the Titans’ provide an excellent mix of support and offense. Mario Nasta and Dylan Meehan stand out as top male beaters for this team, as both provide good defensive coverage and are adept at creating lanes for quaffle pushes. In terms of seeker beating, Meehan stands out as particularly talented. However, one of the Titan’s strongest beaters is former ECQ captain Leeanne Dillmann. In terms of female beaters, Dillmann is easily the Titans strongest and is equally as talented as Nasta and Meehan, if not more so. Her ability to regain bludger control with her impressive catching skills, throw strong and controlled beats, and possess a talented seeker beating game makes her a force on the pitch. This leaves me with one lingering thought: why do the Titans not start her more often? While no one beater here is as strong as, say, Max Havlin in terms of raw strength of beats, the Titans offer a less aggressive and more controlled beating game that is less risky, but often more reliable. Recap: Cleveland Riff vs. Rochester Whiteout By Samantha Dinga and David Wier On July 18, 2015, the Cleveland Riff hosted the Rochester Whiteout in Hartville, Ohio to defend its home turf by taking the series 2-1. After recent games against the Detroit Innovators, Rochester only had five minority gender players, and by the end of the day the team was down to two uninjured females, leaving its lines unusually thin. Both Cleveland and Rochester typically boast deep rosters, but with absences and injuries, Rochester struggled to match the physicality of Cleveland as the games wore on. Cleveland eked out a victory in the first game, with Samuel Roitblat pulling the snitch to end the match with a final score of 80*-70. Throughout the series, it was clear that Cleveland had improved its chemistry since its matches against Indianapolis Intensity. But Rochester stepped up to the plate and made key changes in its playing style the second match, winning 150*-60 with a pull by Shane Hurlbert and help from high-scoring quaffle players Jon Jackson and Devin Sandon. Cleveland answered these adjustments in the third match, robbing Rochester of its chance to tie the Indianapolis Intensity’s 6-3 record with another snag by Roitblat, winning 90*-60.

Seeker Samuel Roitblat | Photo Courtesy of Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
So what was the difference in the second game matchup? To start off, the game showed a much slower Rochester. Its core quaffle handlers made tactful decisions on offense and picked apart Cleveland’s defense, especially once the snitch was on pitch, showcasing Rochester’s beater superiority with managing both snitch and quaffle play. This style clearly unnerved Cleveland, resulting in numerous stoppages of play, sloppy offenses, and emotional displays. Cleveland’s comeback in the final match was most likely from its beaters and seeker Kendall Kuhn. Kuhn held off Rochester seekers for eight minutes when the score was out of range. Though Rochester eventually got the pull, the extra time cost the team energy it didn’t have. Going into the third game, Cleveland continued pressuring Rochester more, preventing the team from taking control of the game. In addition to this, Rochester saw a similar number of cards that Cleveland saw in the second game, including one especially crippling red card on beater Alex Venuti.
Cleveland’s ability to use its depth to its advantage and adapt to a dominating Rochester victory in the second game ultimately won the team this series. For Rochester, the regular season is over, and the team has its sights set on the championship in August. As for Cleveland, with its games against the Detroit Innovators just over a week away, the Riff will be given an opportunity to depose Rochester and take a spot in the top half of its division. Preview: Ottawa Black Bears vs. New York Titans By Bruce Donnelly The Ottawa Black Bears travel to the US for the first time this weekend as they wrap up their regular MLQ season. Alternatively, the New York Titans are a full month removed from their only series so far. While the Black Bears will be looking to salvage more than their one win of the summer before the Championship weekend, the Titans will be aiming to tune themselves up for their matchup next week against the East Division leaders, the Boston Night Riders.

Photo Courtesy of Ben Holland Photography
The phrase “trap game” comes to mind, which is when a heavily favored team has what is considered a more challenging game the following week. If the Titans overlook Ottawa in preparation for Boston, don’t be surprised to see the Black Bears steal a win. From a beating standpoint, Ottawa should have the advantage, and because of this, they it could easily take the first game of this series as long as its chasers can stay in range with the potent New York offense. With a little time alone with a snitch, Ottawa seeker Félix Tremblay could make a quick grab and steal an upset.
Beyond the potential for an upset in the first game, expect Ottawa’s comparative lack of depth to prevent it from staying in range for the rest of the series. The New York quaffle lines, led by World Cup champion Augustine Monroe, is too strong and too deep to not drive games out of range and keep the gap growing. Key Matchup: Ottawa Beaters vs. New York Chasers
For Ottawa to have any chance, it’ll have to keep the quaffle carriers of New York at bay for much of this series. That falls on the beating lines, which will have to keep every Titan from driving to the hoops and force long passes to be intercepted by rangy keepers Jonathan Parent and Peter MacDonald.
On the other side, can the quaffle carriers assert their will and force goals at the hoops? New York keepers Monroe, Brandon McKenzie, and Zak Hewitt all have the mentality to drive first. It will be on coach Michael Parada to finish plays, and chasers Drew Brekus, Missy Hanley, and Tim Keaney will need to be more than just wide passing options. Ottawa Wins If... The Black Bears should have the better beating and seeking. Simply put, they win if a game is in range and they have control while the snitch is on pitch. New York Wins If... The Titans are truly the favorites, but it’s the talent in their perceived weakness that will get them the sweep. Their beating gets less recognition because of the unbelievable quality of their chasing, but don’t count on the Titans’ beating to ever be bad. Prediction While Ottawa has the potential to steal a win in New York, it’s hard to see it happening.  New York’s depth should overwhelm Ottawa from the first game and keep it far above the Canadian team for all three games. The Titans should win each game out of range in preparation for next week’s showdown.  

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article attributed the red card to Shane Hurlbert rather than Alex Venuti. Additionally, the preview of the Titans-Black Bears match was written prior to the release of rosters and has been updated to reflect the rosters each team will compete with. We apologize for these errors.

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