By Christopher Dewing and David Sager
Editor’s Note: David Sager is a player for the Phoenix Sol
With each MLQ team having completed one series, the Quidditch Post’s writers take a look at the action so far and the state of each division at the one-third mark.
San Francisco Argonauts vs. Salt Lake City Hive
The San Francisco Argonauts pulled a surprising away series victory 2-1 over the Salt Lake City Hive to start the 2017 MLQ season.
The Argonauts claimed the first game 80*-70 after slow–paced quaffle play where neither team was able to build an advantage. A snitch catch by Forrest Stone brought victory for the Argonauts after they were able to consistently hold bludger control and protect the snitch. Both defenses sat back deep, challenging teams to break through, and were able to stop drives and block shots with some consistency. Trying to work around this, much of the quaffle game was characterized by long passes behind hoops that were unsuccessful and led to quick turnovers. While the Hive may feel hard done to have lost the game given its controlled play, the Argonauts’ stout defense and consistent if unspectacular play kept the team in the game until the snitch came out.
The second game was the only one out range all weekend as the Argonauts scored quickly and frequently for a 160*-60 victory. The game was similar to the first, but the Argonauts were able to better convert on no–bludger situations and turnovers to build a lead. Inexperienced ball carriers for the Hive didn’t help the situation, as several possessions ended in turnovers in the midfield area or long shots off target. Once the snitch came out, the Argonauts again frequently held control and were able to prevent the Hive from climbing back into the game. It was a victory that showed much of the potential of the Argonauts’ roster leveraging talent through more consistent play. The third game was again competitive, as each team had time to adjust to the other’s style of play. The Hive claimed a victory 150*-120 after the game went back and forth before the seeker floor ended.
“Our team looked good at times and bad at other times,” said Hive captain George Williams. “We need to do better if we want to win more games.”
The Hive certainly has strong potential, but the team will need to build up experience if it is to challenge for further series victories. With the win, the Argonauts now look toward a home series against the Phoenix Sol. The Argonauts’ roster is filled with inexperienced talent and the team did a good job of mixing in newer players with veterans such as Sam Harris who led the way for San Francisco with nine goals on 13 shots and five shot blocks. The challenge will come when the Argonauts face more elite beaters or drivers. A challenge for the West title seems too ambitious a target, but prospects are certainly looking up for the team now.
Los Angeles Guardians vs. Phoenix Sol
The series between the Los Angeles Guardians and Phoenix Sol was just short of predictable as LA comfortably won 3-0. The sweep of the series surprised no one, but, somewhat unexpectedly, the Sol was able to keep up with the Guardians during game two.
Los Angeles was able to control the games but heavily relied on its male chasers on offense. On defense, they pressured high and were very physical. For the most part, bludger control went back and forth, but the Guardians’ beaters created an advantage by being unafraid to tackle. Phoenix ran a double–male beater set for the majority of the games, which, given a roster with five male beaters and four female chasers, created more of a natural roster balance. The Sol’s male chaser line is shallow, and although it is able to tough it through, this limits its ability to field varied lineups.
The first game was plagued with incohesiveness and uncertainty for the Sol as the Guardians won cleanly 180 – 80*. In game two, Sol started to mesh more and was able to hold out for a closer game (at least for the first 18 minutes as the game teetered on the edge of snitch range at the end of the seeker floor). Los Angeles, however, pulled ahead again to win 170 – 90*. Game three showed how important a complete roster is for an MLQ series; the Sol was tired, and it showed in the final score of 150 – 50*.
For Los Angeles, the team definitely has big shoes to fill compared to last year’s team, but with many players having experience competing alongside one another with last season and during the USQ season, there may not be as much of a drop-off as was first feared. Michael Richardson and Peter Lee starred as playmakers and drove the Guardians forward. Lee consistently created lanes by beating out defenders and Richardson led the offense nothing 10 goals and six assists tops on the team in both categories and sixth and fourth in MLQ respectively. The Guardians still need to improve on their seeking game if they want to win their next six games and go into Championship with an undefeated record, as they didn’t catch a single snitch all weekend; however, if failing to catch outside of SWIM is their biggest weakness, it should be a pretty good season.