The Eighth Man

Mid-Atlantic Regional Preview

The University of Maryland and the University of Pittsburgh both have expectations of qualifying for the World Cup and aspirations of taking home the Mid-Atlantic crown. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

The Mid-Atlantic may be the youngest region in the IQA, but it’s certainly trying its best to make a name for itself. With several strong programs sporting a proud history, as well as multiple teams emerging this season to make a name for themselves, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship, taking place in Roanoke, Virginia this weekend is sure to be full of intriguing matchups. And with 19 teams competing for eight World Cup spots and the title of best in region, there is plenty on the line. Below, The Eighth Man looks at the teams and players that will define the weekend, and makes some staff picks as well.

 

 

The Favorites

No. 3 University of Maryland – Maryland has emerged as the team to beat this season in the Mid-Atlantic. Much of the early hype surrounding the squad centered on keeper James Hicks after his success on Team USA, but two undefeated tournament wins this semester have proven that this team is much more than a single player.

Maryland went 6-0 at Virginia Tech’s Sirius Blacksburg Brawl and 7-0 at their own Turtle Cup, sporting  strong and deep chaser line supported by a number of experienced and skilled beaters. With 57% of the voters in The Eighth Man’s poll naming Maryland to be the favorites to win regionals, their solid team and deep bench should lead them to success in Pool 2, and throughout the tournament.

 

No. 6 Villanova University – After finishing second at the IQA’s Champions Series in May and sending two players, seeker William Greco and chaser Zach D’Amico, to London on Team USA over the summer, there was plenty of expectation and name recognition in the top of this squad entering the fall.

But little was known about the depth of the squad until the Brotherly Love Cup this past weekend, in which Villanova cruised to a 5-0 record while staying fresh at every position. No longer as reliant on D’Amico to generate enough points to keep it close because Greco could steal the game with a snitch grab, the team still makes use of the passing-based offensive gameplay that it has developed a reputation for. Villanova leads Pool 1, along with Penn State University, and through a combination of experience and new-found depth, hope to earn one of the top four seeds on Sunday.

No. 21 Penn State University
– Penn State has consistently been one of the best teams in the region, and proved it during the 2011-2012 season with a strong performance at World Cup V, as well as at their own tournament in the spring. After sending two players to join Villanova’s depleted roster at Champions Series last spring, the squad from State College regrouped and appears ready to go in the new season.

At their first tournament, Penn State came out strong, proving there is more than just Team USA chaser Michael ‘Yada’ Parada contributing to this team. With new stud chasers around him, Parada is able to play off the ball with some added freedom, relying on his teammates to both get him the ball and score on their own. These new options showed immediately at Maryland’s Turtle Cup, as Penn State steamrolled the competition on their way to the Finals. While they lost to Maryland in the championship match, the team proved that few in the region can keep up with them, and their Saturday matchup with Villanova in Pool A will speak volumes about who will have the chance to knock of Maryland.

 

 

The Contenders

No. 22 University of Pittsburgh -Pitt has a storied past in the quidditch community dating back to its foundation in the spring of 2009. The self-proclaimed “sexiest team in quidditch” has historically  placed highly in most tournaments, including a quarterfinals finish at World Cup V, but has long been known for not being one of the deepest teams in the league. That depth took a major hit in the spring, as they lost multiple key cogs, including Matt Panico, to graduation.

Still, they sport a starting line of aggressive and strong players that works to establish a dominance on the pitch, swiftly moving the quaffle down the field and crashing the hoops. They will definitely earn a spot in the World Cup, and could contend for the regional title.

 

University of Richmond  – Richmond is the top dog  in the Virginia Quidditch League (VQL), and they’re often named as the number one contender from Virginia at regionals. They came in second at the Sirius Blacksburg Brawl in September, a repeat of the championship match of last winter’s Sirius Blacksburg Brawl against Maryland, but only made it to the quarterfinals of the Turtle Cup at Maryland after a poor 1-2 performance in pool play forced them into an early elimination game matchup with that same Maryland team again.

There major issues seem to revolve around their seeker play: they caught just two snitches in five games at the Turtle Cup, and only one of the three that decided matches. In a region with some of the best seekers in the country, that’s a scary prospect for a single-elimination bracket on Day two.They are also rebounding from the loss of beater Jeffrey Hunt to graduation in the spring, a major loss to their bludger game.

It will be interesting to watch how Richmond stacks up against other teams outside of the VQL, particularly against Pennsylvania teams who that have not yet played.

 

 

The Underdogs

Virginia Commonwealth University – VCU is another established VQL team that has a good chance of success at Regionals, in part thanks to a favorable draw. If they can pull out a win against Virginia Tech, who beat them by a snitch catch, 80-70, at the Sirius Blacksburg Brawl two months ago, they have a good chance of taking second place in Pool 2.

VCU has had multiple close games against Richmond, defeating them 90-70 in overtime during pool play at the Turtle Cup after a pair of VCU pulls. They then lost to them, 90-80, on a snitch catch during the first round of bracket play to be eliminated from the tournament. Keeper Darren Creary is a leading force on their team, both defensively and offensively, and if VCU maintains the level of play they’ve demonstrated this season, they are likely to earn a World Cup bid.

Johns Hopkins University
– Johns Hopkins  has come into the 2012-13 season with high expectations for themselves. Though they  opted to play in Div. 2 at World Cup V last year, Hopkins has come out strong this year. The team made it to the championship of the Kite & Key Cup against Villanova, and the semi-finals of the Turtle Cup, where they fell to eventual champion Maryland.

This team has a strong chasing core led by Mike Matesich, with quite a bit of size at the Keeper position as well. The two-day tournament may be tough on them, as they lack depth, but never count this team out of any game. If they can top Pitt, expect JHU to win Pool 3 and earn an automatic bid to World Cup. But even if they don’t, expect to see this team in Orlando come April.

 

University of Virginia – Coming into this season, Virginia was one of the biggest anomalies in Quidditch. While small schools like Emerson and Middlebury continued to thrive, there remained a few large state schools, such as Virginia, that continued to sputter. Little was known about the team hailing from Charlottesville, and they had experienced even less success in their brief history.

With all of that said, their improvement in the past few months has been remarkable, and it is clear that they have the ability to make some waves in Roanoke this weekend. Virginia has taken out Chestnut Hill, Johns Hopkins and Richmond this year already, lost by just 10 points to Virginia Tech, and kept Maryland close — at least in relative terms — before finally falling at the Blacksburg Brawl.

So far this season, five of their eight games — including three of their four losses — have come down to a snitch grab. While they’ve lost just one more than they have won, their games will inevitably be interesting to watch if they remain this tight.

Though their lack of experience and loaded pool will make it tough for Virginia to earn one of the top 4 seeds that come with an automatic bid, expect this team to earn a place in bracket play, and keep an eye on them to make pull of a few upsets this weekend.

 

 

Players to Watch

Mike Matesich – Chaser – Johns Hopkins University
– Matesich is more than capable of taking over a game against an under-prepared defense. He loves to take advantage of the area behind the hoops, as his speed allows him to get to any ball that’s thrown back there before the defense.

Matesich also carries an impressive amount of strength for his slender frame, and is difficult to bring down without a precise tackle. This makes him almost impossible to stop in one-on-one situations. Because of this, defenses must send multiple players out to guard Matesich, especially if he finds his way behind the hoops, leaving a lot of space open for the offense to work in and usually resulting in a goal for Johns Hopkins.

 

Harry Greenhouse – Chaser, Seeker – University of Maryland – One of the best players in the country, Greenhouse is a renaissance man, filling multiple positions for one of the nation’s top team. In just his second year, his speed and core strength make him the quickest, most physical threat on the pitch any time he comes into the game.

As a chaser, Greenhouse is a scoring machine. His size and speed help him get to the hoops, but he also has a surprisingly accurate long shot as well. Trumping his chaser ability, however, is Greenhouse’s tenacity for seeking on-pitch. His low center of gravity, strength, and agility combine to make him the ideal seeker: hard to throw around and hard to outrun. If Maryland matches up with Villanova on Sunday and the match is still close when the snitch returns, the battle between Greenhouse and Greco may be one for the ages.

 

Jason Rosenberg – Chaser – Penn State University – New on the Mid-Atlantic scene, Jason Rosenberg is a breakout chaser in his senior year at Penn State University.

Jason began his rise to prominence last year during Penn State’s tournament, the Nittany Lion Cup, during the spring semester. After making a name for himself there, Rosenberg entered his name into the mix for the Northeast Fantasy tournament, getting himself drafted onto the pink team by the [editor’s note: incomparable and wise] Ethan Sturm.

On the fantasy circuit — he also attended the Mid-Atlantic tournament — Rosenberg showed an impressive combination of speed and strength, giving him the ability to score frequently, especially against the unorganized defenses of fantasy teams.

But he really shined on the defensive end of the pitch. Rosenberg has proven he can stick with and wrap up just about any player he goes up against, even the talented chasers of Jam City Swag at Northeast regionals. He has both the skill to be a point defender and the smarts to cover off the ball. Quiet both on and off the pitch, he has displayed a deep understanding of the game.

After being forced to sit out the Turtle Cup due to injury, Rosenberg will surely be looking to help lead Penn State to the top of Pool 1 and beyond in his first major tournament of the year.

 

The Eighth Man Staff Picks
Writer Pool 1 Pool 2 Pool 3 Wildcard Championship
Alan Black Villanova Maryland Richmond Penn State Maryland over Villanova
Andrew Canto Villanova Maryland Richmond Pittsburgh Villanova over Maryland
Benny Nadeau Villanova Maryland Pittsburgh Penn State Villanova over Maryland
Devin Sandon Villanova Maryland Pittsburgh Penn State Maryland over Villanova
Kevin Oelze Villanova Maryland Pittsburgh Penn State Maryland over Villanova
Luke Changet Penn State Maryland Pittsburgh Villanova Maryland over Penn State
Steve DiCarlo Villanova Maryland Richmond Pittsburgh Maryland over Villanova

(Sarah Woolsey contributed reporting to this article.)

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