Saturday, October 10, 2015

BGSU Captures Tournament of the Stars 3

By David Wier Last Saturday, Oct. 3, the first official tournament of the Great Lakes region, Tournament of the Stars 3 (TOTS3), took place in Columbus, Ohio. For many teams, it was the first time they took to the pitch for an official game this season, and for many players, it was their first time ever.

Pool Play Pool 1: Ball State Cardinals: 3-0 An experienced core of quaffle players and a smart position change for Tyler Walker gave Ball State an undefeated day in pool play and an eventual finals appearance. Although beater Erin Moreno was absent from the team’s roster, Walker more than made up for the deficit. Compared to other teams, Ball State had some of the most experience in quaffle game. Players like Blake Fitzgerald, Matthew Brown, and Rebecca Sampson allowed the team to use cohesion to effectively compete with other teams, while still providing new players with comfortable opportunities to get some tournament experience. Simply put, Ball State did better what they already did well last year: a controlled, tight style where they determine the speed of the game. That is Ball State’s secret. They can compete with the best because they are able to throw them off their groove. If Ball State can incorporate their new recruits into such a playstyle, they will be a force in the Great Lakes.

Ball State’s Jason Bowling sets up his team’s attack. | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

Great Lakes Community Quidditch 2 (GLCQ2):  2-1 Due to teams dropping from TOTS3, GLCQ fielded two teams. GLCQ2 was made up of mostly GLCQ Tempest teams members and, combined with a couple from GLCQ Maelstrom, numbered only 13 players. That being said, the team’s performance was impressive. Its only losses were to the tournament runner-up, Ball State: one in pool play (120*-50) and one in the semifinals (110*-90). The sheer experience of its roster, with players like Alex Scheer, David Wilber, Alex Matheny, and Ryan Sparks overcame its minimal or extremely inexperienced subs. Its success lends credence to the importance of experience and chemistry. Considering that GLCQ2 – the GLCQ team with the lesser amount of Maelstrom (A-team) players – made a deeper run, it will be interesting to see if there is a roster adjustment by the time of the Great Lakes Regional Championship. Central Michigan Quidditch Club (CMU): 1-2 The impact of the departure of the majority of CMU’s quaffle core showed at TOTS3. Its first game against Ball State resulted in a blowout (140*-30). Although it adjusted its play and held GLCQ2 within range, CMU ultimately lost (120*-60). The silver lining is that its beater core, who spent much of last season rebuilding, is entirely intact. Beaters Becca Bennett and Jack Slater were able to compete with any opponent in Pool 1, and their backups fared similarly well. Keeper Taylor Felton will be key to CMU’s success, with similar ball-handling talent to CMU’s previous keeper David Prueter. While CMU’s performance at TOTS3 was anything but stellar, if their new recruits are willing to put in the extra work, do not count them out just yet. The Mighty Bucks: 0-3 Despite their impressive number of players, Ohio State University’s (OSU) B-team was not able to come out with a win at TOTS3. While only one goal was scored and one snitch caught across their three games, one would be hard pressed to expect a better performance from a B Team heavy on new recruits in its first tournament of the season. After OSU’s performance at TOTS3, hopefully the Bucks have a hidden gem among them, for their A-team’s sake. Pool 2: Bowling Green State University (BGSU): 3-0 Scraping by with an overtime victory against GLCQ1, BGSU sealed an undefeated pool play run at TOTS3, followed by a victorious semifinal and final against Michigan Quidditch and Ball State respectively. Although one could take many things from such an outcome, the most important takeaway is the strength of BGSU, not as a specfiic set of players, but as a program. For many teams, the loss of players like Chad Brown and Zak Hewitt would leaves major holes to fill. For BGSU, the ability to field two official teams last year was invaluable. Going into TOTS3, BGSU had only three players on their roster who did not play at World Cup 8. Even after Dan Daugherty’s switch from chaser to beater, it was evident at this tournament that BGSU’s quaffle core of Kendall Kuhn, Michael Gallagher, and Meredith Taylor, as well as their experienced backups, could effectively cover the deficit.

BGSU’s Jenna Rindler defends against Ball State’s Jason Bowling. | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

Great Lakes Community Quidditch 1 (GLCQ1): 2-1 GLCQ1, populated by mostly Maelstrom players although still fielding a bare-bones roster, had an undefeated pool play run snatched from them by BGSU with an overtime loss (110^*-100), where it outscored BGSU by 50 quaffle points. But that does not tell the whole story. In its other pool play games, it outscored Ohio University (OU) by only 70 points (120-80*) and had an in-range game against Miami University (140*-90). Are these bad scores? Absolutely not, but even with a depleted roster, one could expect better from a team that includes John Gaffigan, David Prueter, Chris Barnard, and Ashley Calhoun. GLCQ1 had talent in spades, but the GLCQ team with the better teamwork, chemistry, and arguably the easier pool made it to the semifinals. Miami University: 1-2 At first glance, Miami University’s performance seems like nothing of note, but with two losses in range against GLCQ1 (140*-90) and the tournament victors, BGSU (80*-30), Miami is best described as the team that “could have been.” With the majority of its players returning from last year, Miami is poised to make a name for itself. It is the definitive “cusp” team; imagine what would be said if Miami had beaten GLCQ1 or BGSU? Miami is well stocked in solid, experienced players, and if their veterans can take their play to the next level, or if a breakout star emerges among their new recruits, Miami might end up a serious contender in the Great Lakes region. Ohio University (OU): 0-3 With three out-of-range losses, OU was the worst performing non-B-team at TOTS3. Hopefully that is not the whole story for OU this season. OU needs to ensure that athletic players, like Ryan Scott, stick around as the program develops. Its new recruits’ ability to learn the game between now and November will be instrumental to OU earning a US Quidditch Cup bid come the Great Lakes Regional Championship. Pool 3: Michigan Quidditch: 3-0 A forceful performance from Michigan left it undefeated after pool play and earned it a spot in the semifinals. Rumors of Andrew Axtell’s return were confirmed as he took to the pitch alongside other veterans such as Zac Fogel, Lisa Lavelanet, and Matthew Oppenlander, among others. Michigan showcased its usual physicality and a conservative beating strategy, dedicating both bludgers to the quaffle game even after running the score well out of range in its win against OSU, 130-80*. Michigan looks to have a great mix of veteran players to anchor the program and new potential to cultivate before the Great Lakes Regional Championship, leaving it poised as a true competitor for the championship. With three out-of-range games under its belt, Michigan headed into the semifinals.

Michigan’s Matt Oppenlander absorbs contact from Ohio State’s Michael Pence. | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

Illinois State University (ISU): 2-1 The only team to produce a true upset, ISU had a dominant victory over the Falcon Warriors Quidditch Club (110*-0) and an unexpected win over OSU (90*-40). The question remains, however, of how much of their success can be attributed to their own growth, as opposed to the deficits of their opponents. To be honest, it is a pretty even split between these factors. Keeper Jeff Siwek has only gotten better and better as their program has grown, and much of their quaffle game revolves around him. Michael Mrowiec is also an experienced beater, key to ISU’s success. With the loss of Nick Sorrentino and Alyssa Marassa, ISU has some holes to fill in an already stretched thin roster. By no means should its victory over OSU be sold short, but with a blowout loss to Michigan (110-50*), it’s clear ISU still has some growing to do. Ohio State University (OSU): 1-2 In one of the most interesting outcomes of TOTS3, pool play ended with OSU not even being considered for bracket play. With Jeremy Boettner as keeper, nobody other than Chris Bowman capitalized on his passes. A similar lack of veterans playing beater left Julie Fritz with little experienced support. Heavy losses from last year, including David Hoops and Matt Eveland crippled one of the Great Lakes’ historical heavy hitters. Does an out-of-range loss to Michigan (130-80*) and an in-range loss to Illinois State University (ISU) (40-90*) spell irrelevance for one of the Great Lakes’ formerly great teams? Not quite yet. Boettner and Fritz simply have their work cut out for them. OSU’s roster from TOTS3 showcased heavy potential depth, and it is up to its veterans to put in the time to cultivate that talent. Falcon Warriors: 0-3 The Falcon Warriors performed similarly to the Mighty Bucks. Although last year saw the Falcon Warriors register as USQ official and snag their first World Cup win, with the change in the amount of teams at US Quidditch Cup and the new transfer policy the Falcon Warriors may find it much more difficult to qualify for Nationals. In any case, with minimal losses for their A team, the Falcon Warriors can continue to be a great opportunity to foster future talent for BGSU. Semifinal 1: GLCQ2 vs. Ball State: 110*90 Ball State University The first semifinal game was a rematch between GLCQ2 and Ball State, although as an unofficial team with a depleted roster, GLCQ2 was able to move a few players from GLCQ1 onto the semifinals team, including Ashley Calhoun and Melinda Staup. Even with these additions, GLCQ2 had trouble controlling the bludger game when Ball State’s Walker was playing. Even without control, Walker pushed GLCQ2 beaters back to their hoops, affording keepers Fitzgerald and Kauffman and chasers Brown and Sampson opportunities to score. But when Walker was absent, it was a totally different game. Calhoun and Matheny were able to clear the way for a number of successful drives from GLCQ2’s Wilber. These drives were a bright spot for GLCQ2, as its passing was abysmal. GLCQ2 also lacked an experienced seeker to compete with Ball State’s Jason Bowling. After a continued dominating performance from Walker when seeker beating, Bowling was able to grab the snitch, sending Ball State to the finals. Semifinal 2: Michigan vs. BGSU: 70-110* Bowling Green State University The second semifinal match pitted two of the most physically imposing teams at TOTS3, Michigan and BGSU, against one another. Although quite evenly matched, Michigan’s beaters in particular seemed to play down to BGSU. A large portion of BGSU’s points came from fast breaks from Kuhn or long shots reminiscent of Daugherty from Gallagher, but that its quaffle game didn’t seem wholly refined. Michigan’s equally experienced and physical quaffle core of Axtell, Oppenlander, and Dylan Schepers were able to match BGSU point-for-point. BGSU’s beaters, in particular Max McAdoo and Jenna Rindler, were largely able to control the bludger game and in combination with Michigan’s conservative beating style led to BGSU’s victory. BGSU’s dominant beating provided seeker Roitblat with ample time to catch the snitch and sent the team to the finals. Final: Ball State vs. BGSU: 130*-80 Bowling Green State University The finals of TOTS3 had Ball State playing against BGSU, an interesting matchup due to the teams’ similar styles of play. Both teams were able to field experienced veterans, making it a balanced matchup. What eventually gave BGSU the ability to pull ahead is its greater experienced depth; TOTS3 was the first tournament for a significant amount of Ball State players. In addition, BGSU’s quaffle players are traditionally quite physical, and although earlier in the day Ball State may have been able to outspeed them, after a day full of games and rain, BGSU’s physicality gave it a slight lead. With more experience at the non-male beater position, BGSU granted its seeker ample time for a snitch catch, ending the game 130*-80 in their favor and crowning Bowling Green State University the champion of TOTS3.

BGSU’s Pari Yost attempts a shot in the finals against Ball State. | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography

As TOTS3 was just the first of a month’s worth of tournaments, there is still plenty of time for the teams of the Great Lakes region to jockey for position. What teams will put their nose to the grind and shock us, and what teams will fall to the wayside?

No comments:

Post a Comment