With US Quidditch Cup 10 rapidly approaching, the Quidditch Post kicks off the 12 Days of Kissimmee with a pair of regional champions, a former juggernaut that fell on hard times, but is now on the rebound, a strong college squad looking to make its way deep into the bracket, and an oft-overlooked college team trying to leave a mark on the national scene.
By Jaxon Matheny
Quite possibly the surprise of the fall, Mizzou Quidditch has a very real chance to make some noise this April. The Tigers have won all four of their tournaments thus far this season, including the program’s first regional title. Perhaps most impressive is in how and where Mizzou has won. Victories at Ball Brothers Brawl 3.0, Kansas Cup, and Cowboy Cup VI gave it three major tournament championships in three separate regions. Furthermore, the Tigers’ two losses, both in range to Southwest runner-up Texas State University – San Marcos at Cowboy Cup and Minnesota Quidditch after Mizzou had already secured a Kansas Cup championship, were later avenged with out-of-range victories.
Mizzou’s biggest strength is its lack of weaknesses. Its quaffle game, led by coach and captain Jacob Parker and chaser Vincent Woolsey, is fast, physical, and smart. Its passing causes defenses to become extremely disoriented, and its defense forces teams to earn every goal they score. The Tigers’ beater captain, David Becker, is elite in every sense of the word. He is extremely accurate, can catch most anything, is a true workhorse, and rarely makes mistakes. Perhaps, though, the reason for Mizzou’s drastic jump this season is the emergence of a talented seeker in freshman Dominic Stelzer. Big, strong, and athletic, Stelzer has been a nightmare for snitch runners all season long. Simply put, there is nothing in the Tigers’ game that can be exploited. Mizzou Quidditch is the most talented Midwest team since the split with the Great Lakes region, and it will be difficult for any team to put it away at US Quidditch Cup 10.
Texas A&M Quidditch
By Alex Stewart
Editor’s Note: The author is a treasurer of Texas A&M Quidditch Organization and plays for Texas A&M.
A team known for its athleticism, Texas A&M has spent the past few years working to return to its former glory. Now, with the majority of its players having a couple years of experience under their belts, the beginning of this season showed a great deal of promise. However, plagued by illness and injuries, A&M has struggled to bring a full roster to any tournament this year. That, paired with a number of leadership issues and lack of motivation, has led to this team way undershooting any expectations it had coming into the season. If A&M is able to break its pattern of near misses and have some of the more tenured players step into leadership positions on the pitch, it is without a doubt a team that has the potential to beat any opposition that lines up across from it.
Veteran beaters Daniel Sobarzo and Alexis Wien set the tone for the high pressure beater play that A&M tends to gravitate toward. A&M forces opponents to rush their plays, resulting in low percentage shots and bad passes. Should the opposition be lucky enough to get an open lane, they are met by A&M’s chaser defense. Not ones to shy away from physicality, senior chasers Rachel Nicoletti and Sam Haimowitz are very effective in stopping drives. Whether they strip the ball or make a tackle, they make it very clear that no opportunities will go uncontested. Texas A&M will make it into bracket play at US Quidditch Cup 10; how far it goes from there is entirely up to the team.
By Kenny Stowe
Editor’s Note: The author is a player for Florida’s Finest
With a second Southern Regional title under its belt, Florida’s Finest turns its attention to US Quidditch Cup 10. After failing to qualify for the tournament last year, and with previous years’ dreams dashed on Day One, the Flamingos are more ready than ever to welcome the nation’s elite to their backyard. With a 14-0 record and home-field advantage, Florida’s Finest is in its best position yet to make a national impression.
Former Team USA player and coach Sean Pagoada leads a beater squad that will have opposing teams gasping for air with incessant involvement on both sides of the ball, while the chaser corps ― featuring Quincy Hildreth, Dre Clements, Tyrell Byrd, and Rachel Ayella-Silver ― leave no gaps for drive-heavy offenses. The defensive unit presented by the Flamingos has proven that it can become highly adaptable to many offensive schemes and prides itself on its ability to wear down its opponents. Finest employs veterans with diverse playing styles, but the innate chemistry found among teammates enables this squad to play together as if it has been practicing for seasons. The key to success will be purely psychological, as this team possesses all the tools it will need to compete at the highest level. Realistically, Finest can expect to make the Round of 16, and if the dice rolls its way with seeking, a berth to the quarterfinals may be more than just a fantasy.
Rutgers University Quidditch
The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University are known for experimenting with their squad at tournaments leading up to the regional championship to determine the best team to bring. This season, Rutgers has pulled off numerous wins against mid-tier teams from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, but with few exceptions have struggled against, or not played, the best teams in its own region. The highlights of its season include wins over District of Columbia Quidditch Club at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship (MARC) and a tournament championship at Keystone Cup III. Ultimately, the team was knocked off by the eventual runner-up, the Warriors, at MARC 80-70* in double overtime in a match where two of the team’s overtime snitch grabs were called off.
Rutgers is led by Major League Quidditch veteran and Team USA 2016 chaser Lindsay Marella and captain Isaac Serna-Diez. Its offense, driven by the agile chaser Dan Gavrushenko and powerhouse keeper Shawn Hazlett, is a threatening one for opponents. Combining this offense with the beating power of Phill Cain and Devin Lee gives the team numerous weapons. This leaves few holes in the Rutgers squad, which will prove beneficial at US Quidditch Cup 10. It has the speed, the players, and the depth to clear its pool on Day One. This year, the Knights have proven themselves to be near the top of the Mid-Atlantic. A win in bracket play would be an attainable goal for Rutgers.
Indiana University Quidditch Club
By Nat Davis
After failing to qualify for US Quidditch Cup 9, Indiana University Quidditch Club (IU) is back for US Quidditch Cup 10 by way the consolation bracket at the Great Lakes Regional Championship. IU seemed like a team to be reckoned with this fall; however, IU has faltered slightly in the spring leg of this 2016-17 season. Though losing two-thirds of its 2017 games looks bad on paper, IU’s 70*-50 loss to Ball State Cardinals at Phoenix Cup VI demonstrates improvement. Ball State was the team that knocked Indiana out at the regional championship, 130*-40. Improvement has been IU’s buzzword this season. With special attention to the beater line, IU has been stepping up and reaping the rewards of its efforts – so far, that is.
IU has struggled to field a full roster this season, with its largest turnout at Ball Brothers Brawl 3.0 where it brought 18 players. Indiana will not have a full 21 players at US Quidditch Cup. Though Indiana has improved its beater game, it is still comparatively weak, instead relying on its chasers and keepers. However, opponents who can outgun IU’s beaters can shutdown the aforementioned quaffle carriers quickly. This weakness in the beater line has also cost IU numerous catches. With snitch on pitch, IU struggles to give its seekers a sustained go at the snitch. Given these weaknesses, it is unlikely that IU will see bracket play. However, one would be foolish to underestimate this team on Day One. IU has a chance to snipe a couple teams in its run in Kissimmee, Florida.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article referred to IU as ISU in one instance. This has been corrected.