The Eighth Man

Grin and Bear It

Baylor shocked the quidditch world by upsetting No. 1 Texas in the Diamond Cup. Credit: Lauren Carter

In the first major tournament of the season in the Southwest Region, the Diamond Cup at Texas State University, No. 5 Texas A&M University (A&M) came out on top, their first tournament victory since winning the A&M Classic in March. A&M played well in every aspect of the game, and impressed with excellent defensive chaser play.

 

But the story of the day was not A&M – it was the team they beat in the finals, No. 17 Baylor University. Baylor came into the season with plenty of hype, but no one was prepared for them to knock off No. 1 University of Texas – Austin, widely considered to be a World Cup title contender, in the semifinal.

 

What made the result even more impressive was that Baylor was simply better than Texas throughout the match, both on offense and defense. Baylor has several rather tall chasers, led by captain Paul Williard, and they know how to use them effectively. They also displayed an excellent passing game that made getting around Texas’ vaunted defense look easy.

 

Defensively, Baylor’s shot blocking kept Texas quiet enough on offensive that they were constantly playing catch-up. Baylor’s defense was aided by retaining bludger control for nearly the entire game, and while Texas did edge ahead right before the snitch grab, that score doesn’t tell the whole story.

 

The result, as impressive as it was, does come with a catch. Even this early in the season, Texas has been plagued with injuries.  Their lineup was crippled before the tournament even started, and things only got worse when beater Jacob Adlis fractured his wrist in pool play, reducing them to just two beaters for the rest of the day. Beater Hope Machala played every minute of Texas’s games all day, and while injuries are by no means an excuse, the team we saw this weekend is not the best we’ll see Texas put on the pitch this year.

 

When the snitch returned to the field, he managed to stay remain elusive long enough to tire out both sides. Texas’s seekers were already suffering, with starting seeker Kenny Chilton sidelined with an injury he picked up at the Breakfast Taco Tournament and a combination of a freshman and some converted chasers taking their licks.

 

But that fact made the final pull from Baylor no less surprising, sending a reverberating shock through the crowd and out into the greater quidditch community. The favorites have fallen, and just weeks into the season, the chase for the title is wide open.

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