Saturday, July 18, 2015

Major League Mashup: July 18, 2015

Team Feature: Boston Night Riders
By Hannah Gluckman
One if by land, two if by sea,’ is the memorable phrase from 1775. This summer, however, Boston is home to a different threat: the Night Riders. The team is currently undefeated after playing against Ottawa and Washington, and they are planning to continue this streak with New York in three weeks.

Of the 29 members of the Boston Night Riders, 17 are from teams that finished last season in the top 20, ranging from college teams like the University of Maryland, Emerson College, and Tufts University, to community teams like Q.C. Boston: The Massacre. Most of these players have played with (or against) each other during the regular season or through countless fantasy tournaments, intramural leagues, pick-ups, or community teams. They had chemistry before the team was even created, which has translated well on the field thus far this summer. Under the leadership of Harry Greenhouse (University of Maryland), Kara Levis (Q.C. Boston), and Jayke Archibald (Q.C. Boston), the Night Riders are benefiting from the experience of proven leaders who have ample knowledge in team building and strategy. Good chemistry and leadership can only carry a team so far. The Night Riders are loaded with talented, proven individuals. Both Greenhouse and Hannah DeBaets (Tufts University) played for Team USA last summer, and are known for their determination and physicality. Along with DeBaets, chasers Carli Haggerty (Harvard University) and Emily Hickmott (Tufts University) are consistent scoring threats with or without the ball in their hands. The Night Riders have power players in David Fox and Tyler Trudeau (Emerson College Quidditch); top-level speed from Archibald and Teddy Costa (RPI); and if that weren't enough they also have multiple dominant beaters who excel at creating offense with Max Havlin (Q.C. Boston) and Andrew Miller (Tufts University). With impressive chemistry and depth, Boston needs to keep their offense strong for the last match of their season, on August 8. Even if the team doesn’t finish the season undefeated, the Boston Night Riders are sure to make quite an impression this season in the Northeast Division—and may perhaps be the most Revered in the division. Recap: Detroit Innovators vs. Rochester Whiteout by David Wier Last Saturday, July 11, the Rochester Whiteout hosted the Detroit Innovators in Henrietta, New York. Detroit (0-3) was looking to seal its first win against Rochester (2-1), and although they did end the weekend with a single win, Rochester successfully defended its turf with a 2-1 win of the series, giving them a 4-2 record and a second place standing overall in their division. The different chemistry between players had a huge impact on the quality of quaffle play for both teams. Much of Rochester’s offensive success can be attributed to the great instincts of its keepers, Shane Hurlbert and Ashkar Basem. Their passing game was a highlight, and they were much very good at utilizing their chasers as options besides driving. On top of that, they showed a number of impressive long shots.

Keeper: Shane Hulbert | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

In contrast, Detroit’s offense was more one-dimensional, with minimal quality passing and typical hero-ball play from keepers Dylan Schepers and Eric Wasser, which can be equally attributed to their own overconfidence and the inability of their other chasers to get open. Detroit continued to underutilize some of its chasers; for instance, Sara Delongchamp and Krystina Packard had some solid opportunities that were overlooked for drives that often ended in turnovers. In the beater game, Detroit put up a much better fight. Partners Jim Richert and Tad Walters were a dominating force, and almost never lost control when they were on the pitch together. A more aggressive beater strategy sparked by Zack Schepers and Kiera Fisher also gave Detroit the ability to compete with Rochester.

Beater: Tad Walters | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
Sara Smacher and Josh Kramer from Rochester provided phenomenal defense against Detroit’s bread-and-butter drives. What physical advantage the Detroit quaffle players did have was minimized by the Rochester’s beaters, even when Detroit had bludger control. Smacher was Rochester’s only non-male beater, and she and Kramer quickly tired. This was especially apparent during snitch beating. Rochester’s lack of overall depth also showed when shortly after a full shift at keeper, Hurlbert put in some time at chaser, with his only sub being Basem due to an apparent absence by Devin Sandon. This lack of depth definitely showed later in their games. Detroit's physicality, typically a strength attributed to the team, was underwhelming at first, which may be attributed to the absence of players such as Ashley Calhoun or David Wilber. The few successes Detroit did see were due to impressive coordination with their beaters. Later on, however, Detroit’s Schepers, Walters and Richert tapped into their powerful potential, clearing the way for drives and quickly locking down their defenses. Rochester's Michael Pascutoi pulled the snitch in the first game, ending it at 130*-40 in Rochester’s favor. In game two, Pascutoi gave Rochester the win (90*-80) and the series (2-0) after a 60 second snitch grab. The final game was won by Detroit (120*-90) when Richert pulled the snitch. As we look to the rest of the season, Rochester, with a 4-2 record, is in a prime spot to take the division if they can have a repeat performance as they did last month against the Indianapolis Intensity (6-3) at the championship. As for Detroit, this first win may be the proof the team needed that they can perform competitively against the other teams in their division. Preview: Cleveland Riff vs. Rochester Whiteout by Alex Scheer The Cleveland Riff (1-2) entertain visiting Rochester Whiteout (4-2) in regular season series play, where Cleveland looks to defend its home turf, coming in 1-2 with a lone win over Indianapolis last month. Rochester, fresh from its series with Detroit, will look to capture the divisional title by sweeping Cleveland, which will not be an easy task. Rochester remains the only team to have a winning record against Indianapolis, and that is in part because of smart, athletic plays by Shane Hurlbert, Jon Jackson, and Basem Ashkar, who spearhead this team. Rochester has also added one key player back to its lineup who will prove crucial in the success of this team during this series: chaser Devin Sandon. The Hurlbert-Sandon combo is deadly, and can cost teams lots of points if they are not prepared. Rochester plays extremely smart on defense, and will look to shut down the Daugherty-Boettner duo, one that is equal to if not more deadly that Hurlbert-Sandon. Rochester’s main weakness is its beating game. When Rochester played Detroit, the Rochester beaters were able to force Detroit into bad decisions. But eventually, Rochester’s depth killed them, as Detroit tired out Alex Venuti to make games two and three much more competitive. Expect Cleveland’s Chad Brown and Max McAdoo to completely dominate beater play and send Rochester back to hoops repeatedly. Athletic players like Sandon and Patrick Callanan will do a lot of hoop clean up for potential errant passes. Female chaser depth will be the second biggest obstacle that Rochester faces. At least one female player was injured last week against Detroit, putting Rochester in a tight spot to win games with low female depth. This will continue to be an issue this weekend as Rochester’s roster features four female players, with only one playing beater. While Cleveland might sit at a 1-2 record, that was a Cleveland team from a month ago. They, similar to Detroit, had not had much practice, and while they are a mashup of Bowling Green State University and Ohio State University, this team still lacked the chemistry that Indianapolis brought to the table. Cleveland has had a month to practice and grow their chemistry without having to challenge another team. This could be the opportunity for Cleveland to showcase how much they’ve grown as a team, as long as they’ve been working to build their chemistry instead of taking a month off from fierce play. Cleveland must also use their depth to their advantage this weekend. Cleveland’s fast chasers and smart beating game will help to put a lot of pressure on Rochester’s defense. Cleveland can win this series at least 2-1, or even 3-0, but they must connect on passes and get the Daugherty-Boettner train rolling. If that happens, I don't see anyone shutting them down. Rochester can win the division if they go 3-0 this weekend. However, the same is true for Cleveland, who can win the division if it goes 6-0 in its last two contests against Rochester and Detroit. If Cleveland loses one or more games this weekend, they finish no higher than third in the MLQ North Division. Expect this series to be high scoring, coming down to ISR catches, with a 2-1 win from Rochester in this series.

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