The Eighth Man

Super Nova: Wildcats Take Home First American Regional of Season

With a 60-50 victory over the University of Maryland in the finals, Villanova took home the Mid-Atlantic regional title. Credit: Carissa Crossett

Billy Greco is a lot of things to a lot of different people.


To some, he’s the best seeker in the game, the Team USA star, the one who always prevails, the real world Harry Potter. To others, he’s overrated, not big or strong enough, his reign at the top quickly expiring.


But one thing is for sure: Billy Greco is clutch. And with the eyes of the quidditch world focused on Roanoke, Va., site of the first North American regional of the season, he needed less than a minute to force everyone to look at him, pulling the snitch that gave No. 6 Villanova University a 60-50 victory over the No. 3 University of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Regional crown.


The exciting final match concluded a weekend that was largely dominated by the two powerhouses of the region. Both went undefeated in pool play, with Villanova winning each match by an average of 122 points and Maryland winning each by an average of 140. The Wildcats got their toughest test from Penn State University, who was within 30 points at the time of the snatch – the first matchup between Greco and Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse, who snitched the match — while Virginia Commonwealth University hung close with the Terrapins, eventually falling, 100-30.


In the third pool, the University of Pittsburgh – after losing multiple key players last spring and having their ability questioned in the lead up to the tournament – ran the table on the back of some fantastic seeker play. They finished 5-0, winning on relevant snitch catches against both the University of Richmond and Johns Hopkins University.


Each pool winner earned an automatic bid to the World Cup heading into bracket play, with Penn State joining them as the wildcard. That left four matchups to decide the final four spots. QC Carolinas – a self-described mercenary team of players from unofficial teams in the Carolinas – was the first to secure a spot, beating Virginia Tech for a second time during the weekend, 100-50. Edinboro University kept its World Cup hopes alive with a snitch grab against Johns Hopkins to send it to overtime, but lost there, ending their run. VCU took care of things in the most professional of manners, seeing off Steel City Quidditch Club in two straight strong performances.


But the most exciting match of the round featured the University of Virginia and Richmond. The two schools are located just over an hour from each other, and had already had one official match decided by 10 points this season. Richmond cruised to a 110-30 victory in the first game, but, with their backs against the wall, University of Virginia made two snitch grabs, one in regulation, one in overtime, to send the series to a decisive game three. The last game came down to the wire, but in the end, a Richmond grab sealed up the final Mid-Atlantic World Cup spot.


The quarterfinals all went to the well-rested higher seeds, making for a pair of spectacular semifinal games. In the first, Pittsburgh gave Maryland a run for its money, but in the end couldn’t quite keep things within snitch range. The Terrapins finally got a grab of the sock, winning 150-80.


Villanova and Penn State were even on the field, but in the end, the Wildcats moved on once again on the back of their seeker play, winning 110-80.


In the finals, Maryland came out aggressively, scoring in the opening minute and then again from distance on a shot from Greenhouse. But Villanova crept back into the match, never letting Maryland pull away by more than 20 points. Keeper James Hicks extended the lead to 50-30 as the snitch arrived back on the pitch, and a stoppage of play gave the seekers time to get back to him.


As Maryland went for a seeker substitution, Greco went right after snitch Austin Nuckols. It didn’t take him long to work, and less than a minute later, he had the snitch, and the game, in hand.


The exciting final was a perfect conclusion to an all-around great tournament. The regional established two truly elite teams in Maryland and Villanova, but also was proving ground for teams like Pittsburgh and a coming-out party for some lesser known teams like QC Carolinas. There is little doubt that, come April, every one of these eight teams will figure into who comes out on top in Orlando.

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