On the second day of Kissimmee, we have a pair of college programs that once dominated their regions, but have since taken a backseat to local rivals, one of the world’s most established community teams, the lone B-team competing, and one regional champion.
The Silver Phoenix
By Alex Stewart
Editor’s Note: The author is a treasurer of Texas A&M Quidditch Organization.
After a slow start to the season, the Silver Phoenix appears to have peaked at the right time. Snagging the last of the Southwest’s 12 bids to US Quidditch Cup, Silver solidified Texas A&M Quidditch as the only school in the country to be sending two teams to Kissimmee, Florida this year. Teams should refrain from writing off Silver as a B team; it has played many of the top teams in the Southwest region in games where it was in range when the snitch arrived on pitch. If Silver can work out some of the kinks of its beater game when the snitch comes on pitch, it will be a dangerous opponent. Silver has a plethora of seekers capable of catching the snitch quickly, so any teams that play it in range should be worried to say the least.
With new faces showing up at just about every tournament this year, Silver has no shortage of talent to choose from, and based on the results it has produced in recent tournaments, it appears that Silver has figured out the right beater pairs and chaser combinations to maximize the team’s potential. Senior chaser Juan Acevedo is a real threat for Silver around the hoops, as is the slippery Genaro Cantú. What sets Silver apart, though, is its beater depth. Senior beaters Patrick Ryan Bobbitt and Steven “Billy” Williamson have a tendency to very quietly take over the game, while junior Synclaire Truesdale can beat with the best. No doubt Silver will win several of its games in pool play, and if it plays to its potential, there’s a chance we’ll see it in bracket play as well.
University of Miami
By Kenny Stowe
The University of Miami (UM) Hurricanes are unquestionably the most successful program in the South, with five regional championship titles and qualification to every national tournament. They had an early outing at the Wolfpack Classic last fall, and although they improved in the spring by being the only team to stay within range against Florida’s Finest at the regional championship, they have also fallen to the Gainesville Siege and Carolina Heat, both in out-of-range games. If Miami’s tendency for continuous growth is no more than a late blooming, UM will be positioned to peak once again at the conclusion of another year; but if they stall out, the Hurricanes will be no more than a tropical disturbance.
UM has had a bit of a rebuilding year, but the consistency and leadership of veterans, including beater Daniel Cantrelle and keepers Jacob Baldwin and Tony Zhu, are the success factors for this team. If there’s any advantage that the Hurricanes can be proud of this year, it is their versatility in adapting to their opposition. UM’s roster is comprised mostly of role players who support their veterans. The key to surviving this storm will be to limit its offensive possessions, play physical, and load the keeper zone with bodies to prevent clear shooting lanes. Snitch-on-pitch with a game in range is the strongest scenario for UM, and if the team continues to find ways to surprise, it may be able to reach bracket once more. More likely, UM will be eliminated on the first day of the tournament.
By Jaxon Matheny
Kansas is having yet another solid season leading up to US Quidditch Cup 10. In a Midwest region far deeper than the past couple of seasons, Kansas’ only losses in-region have come at the hands of Mizzou (twice, both in snitch range) and TC FROST. It looks like Kansas has answered the questions that had plagued the program from the beginning of this year and further. Could it overcome the departure of an excellent senior class? Yes. Can it avoid bad losses? So far, check. Can it make a Sweet 16 run, or go even further? That is the final hurdle for the Midwest’s most established program to clear.
“We have to be strong fundamentally,” said co-captain Rachel Heald. “There’s nothing Kansas Quidditch loves more than a huge play that gets the bench hyped. However, there will be games when it’s not there. That’s when we have to fall back on what we have practiced all year long: fundamentals.”
The key to the Jayhawks’ success has been a high-octane quaffle attack. Heald, along with brother Adam Heald and fellow captain Gabe Dorsey, has led a deep and explosive offense to over 135 quaffle points per game. This has been important because the team is still trying to find a consistent seeker after losing the talented Keir Rudolph to graduation. Kansas has had to use the “seeker by committee” approach, which has included Bryan Weary, Ryley Andrews, team utility Austin Pitts, and even freshman Matti Stowe for defensive seeking purposes. The Jayhawks’ beating game will not overwhelm good teams, but they don’t make many mistakes either. Rachel England can partner with anyone on the roster and hold down the fort. Overall, Kansas will be a true wildcard in Kissimmee, Florida. Everything from a Day One bow out to a quarterfinal run is within the realm of possibility for this team. One question remains: Can the Jayhawks play consistently well enough to make the latter a possibility? Only time will tell.
Bowling Green State University (BGSU)
By Nat Davis
The king of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University, is a well-rounded juggernaut of a team. Be it on offense, a long beat, a snitch grab, or a reset, Bowling Green is quick, controlled, and forceful. Though there are standout players – such as Max McAdoo, Julia Thatcher, and Samuel Roitblat – the key to this team’s success is its synergy; watch out for no-look passing from chasers and a beater line that will ensure the score is right for former Team USA seeker Roitblat to go for the snitch. Last time BGSU was in Kissimmee, Roitblat propelled the team to the semifinals and the squad will be looking to recapture that magic.
Its seasoned players will be key for BGSU since it has only made one outing in 2017. The Falcons competed at Grindy Slam Winter Jam and won the tournament, their finals match against Lake Erie Elite was too close for comfort: 120*-90. At the 4th Annual Dobby Memorial, Bowling Green suffer its first lost of the season, 130*-90 to Michigan Quidditch Team. One question Bowling Green will have to answer is its physicality. Bowling Green is considerably more physical than many Great Lakes teams, but that merely brings it up to par when competing on a national scale. Playing against more physical teams, BGSU could begin to falter if it cannot keep its contact clean.
Silicon Valley Skrewts
By Chris Dewing
Attending their sixth consecutive US Quidditch Cup, the Silicon Valley Skrewts are the oldest community team in the Bay Area. Playing many of their season’s games in the Northern California Quidditch Conference, the Skrewts are undefeated against the rest of the conference this year, including an overtime victory over fellow US Quidditch Cup qualifier Cal Quidditch. At tournaments that have drawn a wider range of teams this year, the Skrewts have so far been unable to break through against elite teams. They are driven by a small core of experienced players including beater Willis Miles IV, keeper Andrew Covel, and chaser Sam Harris.
At the West Regional Championship this year, the Skrewts’ strengths were on display as they comfortably qualified with consistent play. Their defense is stout and relies on physical play to prevent the opposition from ever getting into a half court set comfortably. The offense flows through Miles and the openings he is able to create, but also features a steady diet of long passes behind the hoops. The Skrewts play to their strengths and don’t feature overly complicated moves. A comparatively weaker seeker game prevents them from either troubling top teams or consistently beating teams of comparative skill. All but one of their losses before the regional championship came from in-range games, and this weakness could come back to bite at US Quidditch Cup where other teams will be able to better match the experience of the Skrewts. They are a team that will be competitive on Day One, and not qualifying for bracket play would likely be a disappointment for the team. However, they are unlikely to make an impact on Day Two or trouble serious contenders for the title, with any further victories on the second day being icing on the cake.