Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Epic Clash Between Regional Powers Headlines Canes Classic

By Devon McCoy and Sarah Goad

Editor’s Note: Devon McCoy plays for Florida’s Finest (FF).

The condition of the south
The University of Miami held its second annual Canes Classic on Sept. 26, and while the region’s humidity and high temperatures were in full force, it was a fantastic start to the season. The tournament had to be cut short due to player exhaustion in the wet heat, but enough games were played to tentatively gauge the seasonal outlook for the attending teams. Miami and FF dominated. The rest of Florida made a surprisingly strong stand despite weaker rosters and the oppressive weather, which caused players and coaches to take precautionary measures during and between games. All in all, the first organized tournament of the year showed numerous signs of improvement for the South region.

Florida’s Finest versus Miami was the highlight of the tournament | Photo Credit: Nicole Robson Photography
The number of teams that made it down to the University of Miami’s second annual Canes Classic was on the small side. A total of eight teams participated, but even more surprising was the fullness of each roster. In past tournaments, Florida International University (FIU), Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), and Florida State University (FSU) have struggled to recruit and retain players, especially for away tournaments. Not at this tournament. All eight attending teams featured full 21-player rosters or something very close and the results showed promise for not only these teams but for the entire region.

A close game between Miami and FIU (120*-50) saw the the FIU beater corps led by Steven Paisley maintaining control to keep a close game, all while giving the Miami defense as much as it could handle. FSU’s presence at Canes Classic offered up experience to new players while simultaneously broadening its veteran players’ horizons. During its end-of-the-day matchup against a tired Miami team, FSU was on full display. With the score barely in snitch range, both teams tirelessly fought both to score and catch the snitch; in the end, however, Miami’s experience gave it the win and a 3-1 record for the day.

The rise of a smaller community team
Also present was RCQC, who duked it out against Nearly Headless Knights Quidditch (UCF) and a mercenary team showcasing former Florida’s Finest chaser Jack Harver. RCQC came away with two wins and a glutton of passes for scores; its offense and defense flourished but only against noticeably weaker opponents. With their first full team practice under their belt, it’ll be exciting to see what Brian Nackasha, Amy Sullivan, and Leonard Ufer can do to motivate their team to grab one of four US Quidditch Cup spots for this year. Snitch-range games against the South’s top two teams could be on the horizon for RCQC.

The two regional powers
The most intriguing game of this tournament was definitely the match between Miami and Florida’s Finest, which lasted approximately 30 minutes.
The match began with both teams playing aggressively, which quickly brought the score to an even 30-30 before petering off to a bit of a standoff. FF’s offense, led by Dre Clements and Devon McCoy, eventually gained an edge by squirming their way through Miami’s beaters to push the score up in Finest’s favor. Throughout the entirety of the game, FF’s beaters assisted in maintaining at least a 40-point upper hand by playing all over the pitch and pounding any opposing chasers or keepers that dared come near FF’s hoops.

As the minutes passed, Clements and McCoy continued to bring down many of Miami’s defensive chasers while also continuing to contribute in the scoring game, but to say that Miami did anything but fight back tirelessly would be unjust. Sean Beloff’s return from playing with the Warriors helped steady the Miami offense enough to keep it within striking distance for Daniel Cantrelle’s heroic two snitch catches.

Finest’s seekers tirelessly engaged snitches Steven Paisley – who was slated to snitch the whole match but pulled a muscle and had to sub out – and Danny Cairo while they were on-pitch. The combined efforts of good snitching and Miami’s persevering on-snitch beaters – led by none other than Shannon Moorhead – dragged the game out longer than it likely would have gone otherwise.

Bernardo Berges managed several clutch scores that helped Miami resurface near the end of the game; after a few defensive lapses by FF  – and a few scores and an opportunistic snitch catch by Miami Miami found itself scheduled for a date in overtime. FF allowed its seeker game to struggle in order to focus its offense on scoring. After three more points scored and several defensive stands by FF, the score read 160-130*, until another snitch catch by Miami sent them into double overtime with the score tied at 150. On brooms up, Florida’s Finest acquired possession and drove straight to the hoops with a successful scoop-and-score by Clements to finally solidify the win.

Berges battles his way to the quaffle. | Photo Credit: Nicole Robson Photography
This shambles of a game proved to be a real test for the two top teams in the region; oppressive heat and humidity in conjunction with the absolutely devastating game length really pushed players to their limits. Onlookers saw weaknesses and strengths from both teams: Miami struggled with the inability to bring down scorers in its keeper zone and FF’s inability to put away the game late. When all’s said and done, however, it’s obvious that this region continues to improve. Out-of-region-play will benefit any South region team this season, and the earlier and more plentiful the opponents, the better.

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