Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship Preview

By Bruce Donnelly, Jacqui Ahearn, and Zak Hewitt Nov. 14 marks the third of eight USQ Regional Championships, as 23 teams from the Mid-Atlantic descend upon the Hunt Club in Virginia Beach, Virginia for the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. The Top 10 teams will qualify for US Quidditch Cup 9 in April 2016.
Pool A Maryland Quidditch (UMD)
Philadelphia Honey Badgers (PHB)
Duke University Quidditch (DUQ)
West Virginia Mountaineers (WVU)
Hopkins Hallows (JHU) Maryland will be the clear winner of this pool, having already beat both Hopkins Hallows and the Philadelphia Honey Badgers at Turtle Cup V earlier this year. Though UMD has suffered some unexpected losses this season, likely due to the loss of many graduating players like seeker Harry Greenhouse, later games seem to show improvement as the new players get a feel for the sport. PHB will likely win against all but UMD, as the team has been having a commanding season thus far. One of PHB’s most talented chasers, Alvin Arnold, was recently injured and will not be able to play at the regional championship but the team has the depth and the numbers to do well without him. A highly physical team, the Honey Badgers should bring the skills to challenge UMD. The Honey Badgers’ aggressive style of physical play will likely also surprise the other teams in the pool.
UMD had a strong showing at Turtle Cup V | Photo Credit: Kat Ignatova Photography
JHU has yet to win an official game this season, but all of the team’s losses have been to high-ranked teams, including the RIT Dark Marks and UMD. Early-season games against these teams may have taught main driver Bobby Stafford to play a more physical game, and JHU may be able to rely on Ryan Kunzer to provide offensive support as a beater. Though the team is a bit of a dark horse, it may pull out a win against Duke University and the West Virginia Mountaineers, two similarly situated teams. Duke is likely to move on to the play-in for bracket as well, although its record is 1-3 this year. WVU will probably be the lowest performing team in this pool because its style of play is more conservative and the team is in a highly physical pool. However, given that JHU, DUQ, and WVU have similar records, preparation and concentration could be key for any of the three to move on to bracket play. Pool B Penn State University Nittany Lions (PSU)
Lock Haven University Quidditch (LHU)
Virginia Tech (VT)
Grove City Legion of Broom (GCLB)
Mansfield University Fire Ferrets Quidditch (MUQ) This pool can be compared to that of a 45-degree diagonal slope. Penn State University has played only one tournament, which happened to be its own. The team has a 4-2 record so far this season, and its only real competition is Lock Haven, with a record of 5-7. Additionally, Virginia Tech boasts a 7-3 record, while the two remaining teams are Mansfield University (0-3) and Grove City (3-2).
Lock Haven will be Penn State’s main threat in pool play | Photo Credit: Kat Ignatova
The top teams in this pool are clearly Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Lock Haven. All three feature solid beaters but have quaffle players who fail to make big plays when under pressure. However, each team has a solid roster that will pay off when playing long, drawn-out games. At the top of the slope there is a team with efficient scorers, experience in stressful situations, and level-headed play: Expect to see PSU go 4-0 by edging out LHU and VT with a snitch catch thanks to its superior beaters. Veteran Scott Axel will lead his team to victory against the aggressive but inexperienced Zach Whitsel of LHU. VT and LHU will have to battle it out to claim that second spot, as both teams are athletic enough to put points on the board. LHU chasers Josh Moules and Tyler Potoski will be excellent matchups for VT’s John Heitmann and Zach Grigorian. However, expect LHU to come out the victors based on sheer physicality. As for the loser of this bracket and the bottom of the slope, it is difficult to say. While Mansfield University comes in winless and Grove City boasts three wins over Carnegie Mellon Quidditch Club this year, expect Mansfield University to win a close contest due to the athletic quaffle game led by captain Taylor Donahue. Additionally, MUQ’s snitch-range loss to Villanova Community Quidditch at the Nittany Invitational showed a team ready to raise alarms against the competition. Pool C District of Columbia Quidditch Club (DCQC)
University of Richmond Quidditch (URQ)
George Mason Club Quidditch (GMU)
Villanova Community Quidditch (VCQ) was originally in this slot, but has dropped from the tournament
Wizengamot Quidditch at VCU (VCU) Pool C should be the closest pool, top to bottom. While DCQC goes in as the favorite, the teams from pot two and pot three, URQ and GMU, both present viable competition to DCQC. All three of these teams, as well as the fourth and fifth pot teams, VCQ and VCU, qualified for last year’s USQ World Cup 8.
DCQC at Turtle Cup V | Photo Credit: Tom Powers
The differing styles of GMU, a beater-heavy team, and URQ, a high-tempo offensive team, will both offer their own challenges for DCQC, giving both teams a chance to keep games close. Ultimately, though, DCQC will be too talented at every position to lose in this pool. The aggressive style of URQ could push into GMU’s depth, but expect GMU to be prepared with a good second line to leave its matchup to a snitch grab, which should also favor GMU, a team that has only lost one snitch-range game this season. While VCQ and VCU could have been a dramatic game for the final bracket spot in the pool, with a team that qualified for last year’s World Cup being left out of the regional championship bracket, the last minute drop of Villanova means that all four teams will advance to bracket play. Pool D James Madison University Quidditch (JMU)
Virginia Quidditch Club (UVA)
Rutgers University Quidditch (RUQ)
Wilmington Warhawks (UNCW) Pool D has an interesting storyline within it, with JMU coming in as the top seed, boosting its resume with wins over weaker competition early this season, and appears to be untested at that. UVA, however, has played more difficult teams than JMU won. This suggests that the second seed has a good chance at taking the win from JMU and securing the top spot in what should be a slightly out-of-range game. The third seed, RUQ, should be a more competitive game for JMU. RUQ has come into the season with a lot of expectations and has failed to bring it together in the games the team has played thus far, but it has the talent to challenge JMU. This matchup should come down to a snitch grab. Spectators can expect Rutgers to have a better chance at the snitch in this situation and to take the second spot of this pool.
Rutgers at NJ Round Robin III | Photo Credit: Tom Powers
These results leave UNCW to battle it out with JMU for the final spot. JMU has experience against UNCW and mutual opponents, winning against these teams by large margins. Expect this game to be JMU’s only win in the pool – one that shouldn’t be close this time, either. Pool E The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch (UNC)
Appalachian Apparators Quidditch (AAQ)
University of Mary Washington Quidditch (UMW)
Tri-State Lightning Quidditch Club (TSLQC) UNC is an obvious contender for the top spot in this pool. Though it lost a few key players, the team has a wide depth of talent to draw on and is expected to finish each of its games out of range. A team would need a perfect game and a bit of luck to finish within range against UNC or to beat it.
UNC placed second at Turtle Cup V in September | Photo Credit: Tom Powers

AAQ, another team that qualified for World Cup last year, has had a fairly split record of 3-4 this year. This makes its performance somewhat hard to judge, but given its reputation as a hard-working and talented team, it can be expected to keep UNC on its toes, give Tri-State a difficult time, and win over UMW. Tri-State is the newest and the most untested team in Pool E. The team has gathered a good deal of talent from its area but has struggled to implement cohesive strategy. It brings experience – as almost every player is a veteran and a tenacious style that will likely lead it to victory over UMW. Given AAQ’s inconsistent record, the two teams may be well-matched, and Tri-State could very well use its defensive experience to outmatch AAQ, though the team’s decisive use of bludger control may interrupt Tri-State’s usual defensive methods. UMW is the final team in Pool E. The footage of its most recent games shows the team has several standout players, including chaser Quinn Ogden, who could help the team win in an upset. Additionally, its fast passing offense, led by Tino Bordone, will likely be beneficial to the team in this aggressive pool. Bracket Play As pools A, B, and C will each have their lowest-finishing team bounced before bracket play, WVU, Grove City, and VCU each might have some choice words for the basement dwellers of D and E. Still, don’t expect Duke, Mansfield, Wilmington, or UMQ to make it into the magical Round of 16, which grants winners one of 10 US Quidditch Cup 9 bids, and gives losers a shot for the final two bids in the lower bracket. An upset could easily come at the hands of Pool C’s third-place team, which looks to be Richmond if GMU’s clutch seeking game comes through in pool play. Richmond should have the firepower, especially with Brendan O’Connor back at keeper, to take out any of the sixth through 10th seeds, but it might get stuck with a tough matchup against a pool-winner if it does not secure the top spot among third-place pool finishers. Look for UMD, PSU, DCQC, UVA, UNC, PHB, GMU, and URQ to all snag an early bid. The lower bracket should have three or four well-matched teams battling it out for the last bids, but expect JMU and AAQ to come up strong with the final bids. At the end of the day, look for a dogfight between the top regional contenders with UMD, PSU, DCQC, or UNC. Still, Maryland’s endurance and depth should outlast opponents as strong quaffle passing and aggressive beating let it ride to a repeat Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and opinionated. It would be fabulous to get some more interesting feedback on the teams you chose to highlight in short, undescriptive and negative terms. Let's see how this plays out! :)