Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Michigan Quidditch Atop Great Lakes Region

By Keller Stevens The newly-created Great Lakes region capped off its run for US Quidditch Cup 9 with nine teams receiving bids. Michigan Quidditch Team (MQ), Bowling Green State University, Lake Effect Maelstrom, Ball State Cardinals, Ohio State Quidditch (OSU), Miami University, Ohio University Quidditch Club, Michigan State Quidditch, and Central Michigan Quidditch Club all punched their tickets to Columbia, South Carolina next April.  

Pool Play Pool One
Ohio State Quidditch
Miami University
Lake Effect Tempest (LET)
University of Southern Indiana Quidditch (USI)
Toledo Quidditch Pool One ended with a three-way tie for first in wins, making point differential the deciding factor. As a testament to the fluidity of the region, Miami fell to LET yet managed to beat OSU, which in turn defeated LET. This was the only pool not dominated by a single team on paper, but was given to OSU with only 10 points over Miami. USI and LET faired as expected, with a particularly notable game that ended 130*-70 with a clutch catch by Alex Scheer. USI exceeded expectations after last years showing, and Tempest proved that the title B teamhas a loose definition. Toledo showed up with the smallest roster and performed admirably for its number. This pool boasted the closest games of Saturday, with four games ending within snitch range.  
Ohio State University versus Miami University | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
Pool Two
Michigan Quidditch Team
Ohio University Quidditch Club
Indiana University Quidditch (IU)
Falcon Warriors Quidditch Club (FW)
Eastern Michigan Quidditch (EMU) To no ones surprise, Michigan Quidditch ended pool play with not only no snitch-range games, but also with no games under 150 combined points. Michigan’s decimating performance granted it the first seed; the team only allowed a combined 60 points against it across its four qualifying games. Ohio University played hard and swatted away the bottom three teams, taking seventh seed going into Day Two. The two surprises of the pool were IU, which won two snitch-range games against FW, and EMU. IU was highly praised for its dramatic improvement over last year and emerged on the brink but just short of the Great Lakes tier-one teams. Eastern Michigan ended a rough fall semester after its snitch-range loss to IU. FW went on to 15th seed in bracket play, resulting in a heartwarming matchup against Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Pool Three
Bowling Green State University
Michigan State Quidditch
Wooster Scottish Nationals
Carnegie Mellon Quidditch Club. With the withdrawal of Western Michigan University Thestrals, all of the teams in Pool Three were granted a pass to Day Two. BGSU dominated its pool with excellent bludger play led by Dan Daugherty and chaser line fronted by Pari Yost and Kendall Kuhn. Michigan State ended with the eighth seed after a tough fight with BGSU, making it the last of those expected to receive a bid in bracket. Wooster performed well in its pool considering its competition and went on to the semifinals of the consolation bracket. Wooster showed that with just a bit more athleticism and attention to its beater line, the team could rise to compete with teams like Michigan State. Carnegie Mellon performed well for its size, both numerically and physically, but did not manage far into Day Two.
BGSU dominated its pool | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
Pool Four
Ball State Cardinals
Lake Effect Maelstrom (LEM)
Central Michigan Quidditch Club (CMU)
Quidditch Club Pittsburgh
Grand Valley Quidditch Each regional championship seems to have a pool dubbed the Pool of Death. With Lake Effect Maelstrom receiving a Pot Five seeding, Pool Four was stacked with two top-tier teams.  The big story out of this pool was the first match of the day between Ball State and LEM. Ball State was able to capitalize on Maelstroms lack of preparation and squeaked by with the victory, showing intense play from beaters Erin Moreno and Tyler Walker. Central Michigan has a tendency to be one of the regions most enthusiastic teams and played a surprisingly close game against BSU, which helped give it better seeding in the consolation bracket, eventually leading to its well-earned US Quidditch Cup 9 bid. QC Pitt and Grand Valley got the shortest end of the stick this year but still managed to put up points against many of the weekends best teams.   Bracket Play The Sunday morning qualifying matches passed without much departure from the rails. Close matches between the middle seeds like Michigan State vs. LET and Ohio University vs. CMU finished within snitch range, but the higher-seeded teams, Michigan State and Ohio University, moved on in both instances. The higher-tiered teams like Ball State, Bowling Green, and MQ made short work of the lower tier and established themselves with their bids to US Quidditch Cup 9. Eight teams were then sent to the consolation bracket to battle it out for the final bid.  
Quarterfinals were a series of interesting matchups. First was Ohio University vs. BGSU, in which Bowling Green denied a single point against it during the match with an unbeatable beater defense and heavy-handed chaser offense blowing the team forward into the semifinals. BSU vs. LEM, a repeat of Saturdays opening match, was the only game to break the mold in bracket play and is expanded on in the Focus Matches. Miami vs. OSU was another repeat, but whereas Miami was able to get by on a snitch catch the day before, it was not able to give a repeat performance in bracket play. Finally, MSU vs. MQ put up more points against the front-runner than the entire first day combined, with a final score of 190*-70. Semifinal matches saw the resurgence of LEM as it forced BGSU into a nail-biting snitch-range game. Maelstrom ended its rollercoaster of a weekend with heads held high and eyes set on South Carolina. Ohio State maintained a valiant effort against Michigan but was forced to suicide catch, ending its regional run 120-60*. Championship Match Coming into the semifinals, UM did not have any game under 120 points. BGSU was coming off of a similar streak, playing its only snitch-range game against Maelstrom in the semifinals. The game took a back and forth until just before snitch release, when Michigan took a brief 30-point lead. Both teams exchanged huge hits, with powerhouse players like Matt Oates and Mike Gallagher trading blows. BGSU closed the gap just before seeker release with Max McAdoo seeking against Matt Oppenlander. Nearly all bludger attention went to the snitch game, as Michigan substituted its seeker after every few attacks. These quick substitutions allowed Michigan to take the advantage over BGSU against snitch Ryan Scott. After a few minutes of back and forth, Darin Wong from Michigan got the pull to send his team home with the gold.  
Great Lakes Regional Champions Michigan Quidditch | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
Focus Matches
Lake Effect Maelstrom (6) vs. Ball State University (3) - Quarterfinals (130*-30)
This quarterfinal matchup was similar to the first game of Day One. On Saturday, Maelstrom’s gameplay was oddly reminiscent of the Detroit Innovators, a team with which several Maelstrom players played over the summer. The community team did not have the cohesive flow of its opponents, and it took the first day to get used to working as a team. “[In the first game against BSU] our chemistry wasn’t there, we had no cohesion between our bludger and quaffle game,” said Chris Barnard, captain of Maelstrom. “Each game on Saturday we got more and more comfortable as a team.”   Maelstrom fronted big-name players like Ashley Calhoun, David Prueter, and Captain Chris Barnard, who helped make the second game incredibly physical. Trevor Campbell was a particular player who seemed to take time to warm up and get back into the game, which he fully accomplished by Day Two. This game comes after an incredibly successful Ball State season. Ball State was heavily aided by many of its players’ experience on the Indianapolis Intensity MLQ team. However, after LEM got into its groove, it established itself as the top-eight team seen in South Carolina last year. Indiana University (12) vs. Lake Effect Tempest (9) - Consolation Semifinals (130^-100*) Lake Effect Tempest left pool play with a 3-1 record with two snitch-range victories over Miami and Southern Indiana. After a hard in-range game against Michigan State, LEM entered the consolation bracket in ninth seed and was still a favorite to win the bid for South Carolina. Standing in the way, however, was Indiana University. IU came into the weekend with no official wins and was somewhat overlooked after its less-than-stellar record last year, but this year, IU stepped up and earned its merit. The game was lopsided early when IU took a 70-point lead to make the score 100-30 following some back and forth. IU attributes this to its chaser line, primarily Claire Helmen and Daniel Pearcy, who played with a sprained hand. With the snitch released, Tempest capitalized on an IU yellow card and a distracted beater game to run the score up to 100-70 before a catch by Tempest seeker Alex Scheer threw the game into overtime. But the overtime ended quickly with a lunging catch by IUs Matt Pesch, who had been performing admirably as a chaser for the majority of the game. IU would go on to be defeated by Central Michigan in the consolation finals and earned the first alternate spot for US Quidditch Cup 9.

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