The Eighth Man

Midwest Cup: A Weekend to Remember…

November 10th and 11th was by far the weirdest and most interesting tournament for the Midwest quidditch teams to date. Pool play opened up with some of crazy upsets of teams who then struggled to qualify for the World Cup, squads that came out strong and then faded quickly, or programs that established their dominance and continued to ride it

 

The tournament was set up in a fairly simple format for teams to secure a World Cup spot: win on day one, and day two won’t matter. Sunday didn’t hold the same pressure for group winners to qualify as it did for the other six Midwest teams who will be traveling to Florida in April. All five teams that won their pools ended up with a perfect record going into day two, but they did it in very different fashions.

 

Credit: Allie Tyler

 

 

Pool I: Ball State, Central Michigan, Miami, Grand Valley State, and St. Mary’s

 

In Pool I, the obvious and dominant favorite was Ball State, and they did extremely well accumulating points, and with the relative ease of their pool, they took the No. 2 seed in the bracket. Aside from a surprisingly close and exciting game with Central Michigan, they slid past their competition. After losing to Ball State, Central Michigan’s  high intensity seemed to slow down.

 

Centaur Down

While they performed with an amazing effort to take on Ball State, Central seemed to go down slowly after that loss. It wasn’t necessarily a demoralizing loss as the score of 240-150 may suggest. They hung in the game at 140-140 for a while, and traded scores until that point, but then they just fell apart. The beater play of Ashley Calhoun was absolutely amazing, but they just weren’t able to stop the attacking offense of Ball State. After that loss, Central went on a decent streak, winning the rest of their games, but the differences in the scores was closer than expected.

Ultimately, they fell to Illinois State during the first round of bracket play in a two-overtime game where the snitch won, their World Cup dreams dashed. The loss may be attributed to fatigue and their inability to bring their team back together after the Ball State game. They played fantastic all weekend with some stellar plays, but it just wasn’t enough in the end.

 

Ball so Hard

While Ball State was the team to reckon with coming into the tournament, they seemed to show a different side this tournament than has previously been seen this season. It was the first time in a year and a half that teams were really able to beat the Ball State team in the snitch game, with seeker Tyler Macy seemingly off his game. With longer matches snitch catches became harder, leaving the door open for other teams. That being said, in only one game, the game they lost to Marquette, was this detrimental to them. The close game with the No. 9 Golden Eagles was the final snitch catch that got away from Macy.

 

Credit: Allie Tyler

On the positive side for Ball State, their physical play was amazing. They were able to drive the ball extremely well, and they kept beater control for a lot of the games. Their finish behind BGSU and Marquette was not expected, as they usually take the top spot in tournaments, but without a third place game, it is likely that they would have taken care of No. 20 Michigan State pretty easily.

 

 

Pool II: Marquette, Loyola, Eastern Michigan, and IUSB

 

In Pool II, Marquette seemed to just dominate the competition. They started the day weaker than expected, only beating the bottom seed in their pool by fifty points, but they then came back strong against EMU and Loyola in order to take the third seed overall. The fifth team in the pool, Michigan Tech, didn’t show for this tournament, which kept the team well rested and allowed them to avoid some of the fatigue that other teams felt. Overall, many teams in attendance also considered this the easiest pool.

 

The most interesting part of this pool was definitely the play for second and third. The game between EMU and Loyola was a thriller, and a snitch catch decided it for Loyola. The majority of play between those two teams was even, but the Loyola seeker caught what was at first a controversial snitch, and then confirmed by the refs.

 

Cocky or Confident?

No. 9 Marquette University rolled up in their vans and uniforms, matching head to toe, and they played exceptionally well. While their play was definitely top of the tournament, they seemed to have an air of superiority around other teams, and a less than friendly perspective expressed from some players seemed to make a ruling for the entire team as a whole. The team may have expressed that they were there to win and not make friends, but the children of the corn are much more than that in their region.

Marquette University, the winners of the 2012 Midwest Regional Championship. Credit: Allie Tyler

 

 

Pool III: Bowling Green State, Purdue, Kansas, Southern Illinois, and Denison

 

This pool was the one that most people thought would for sure be Kansas’, but this was BGSU’s pool for the taking. After an amazing performance over the defending champions, No. 17 Kansas University, BGSU ended up besting Purdue as well. They finished up the day with a remarkable performance brought on by the amazing chasers Daniel Daugherty and Katie Milligan, to secure a World Cup qualification. Defending Division II Champions Purdue University took out the Jayhawks early in pool play, and then again in the bracket after both teams had qualified for World Cup VI. Purdue ended up finishing second in the pool where they had been predicted third, and ultimately a struggling and injured Kansas ended up barely qualifying for the World Cup.

 

The New Cinderella Story
Bowling Green continued their Cinderella run to the finals where they were the crowd favorite and undeniably the nicest team in the competition, winning the spirit award as well. BGSU took teams for a run when they played an odd but effective team strategy of two male beaters. They were able to keep bludger control in most games except against Marquette in the championship, and they created a serious threat on defense. Their two female chaser line-up was generally  effective, and it was exciting to see how teams reacted when they stacked up their defense against the unique offense of Daugherty and the female chasers.

Credit: Allie Tyler

The run by this team was one that was of exceptional emotional drive, as BGSU has taken it all in the last year and turned it full circle. At last year’s first ever Midwest Cup, they went 0-4 on day one and didn’t make the bracket on day two. They also finished defeated in pool play at World Cup V last year, but each year is new and full of exciting changes. This team was completely different than last year, and finishing second was ultimately one step away from the icing on the cake for this heavy underdog-turn-powerhouse.

 

A Broken Wing

The tournament started with a bang, with the No. 17 Kansas falling to the former Division II Champions Purdue. Kansas came into this tournament injured and hurting for positional players at female chaser and keeper as a whole. Their seekers were the same as seen previously, with Joel Havercamp and president Aaron Pope. However, both Havercamp and Pope had not really seen the same seeking success since last season. Recently, the funk had sunk in and the catches had been few and limited.

This tournament showed no mercy to the beaten down Kansas, and even with the outstanding play of captain Hai Nguyen, and a decent development from Ronell Sharp and Jodi Murphy on offense, the Jayhawks ended up falling very short of their expectations going in. When asked about it, Kansas was just concerned about qualifying toward the end. As Nguyen stated after the tournament, “Despite having so many injuries during the tournament, we showed the PASSION and DRIVE to give our best no matter the circumstances. Couldn’t ask for more. [I am] proud of the two teams that make up ONE Kansas Quidditch.” Needless to say, Kansas is coming away with a very different result than a year before, and will have a long time to recuperate and get ready to prove to people that they haven’t lost their touch.

 

 

Pool IV: Michigan, Crimson Warhawks, Minnesota, Indiana, and Toledo

 

Pool IV was a lock up for Michigan. They were the best of the pool and there was really no contention on that front, but where did it go to from there? The bracket took a spin in the two and three spots. The Crimson Warhawks and Minnesota were the up-for-grabs, meet back-to-back, who can take it all kind of teams, and they were evenly matched the first time they met, when the Crimson Warhawks took down the competition on a snitch grab. However, when it counted, the No. 18 Minnesota, a final four team in World Cup V, defeated the Warhwaks in the qualification game during bracket play.

 

Credit: Allie Tyler

These two teams, Minnesota and Crimson Warhawks, had some interesting games with each other and with the head of the group, No. 14 University of Michigan. They all seemed a little streaky when it came to game play, and neither one was able to really justify a solid second or third place positioning based off of these inconsistencies. When they had to meet up in the bracket to see who was going to Florida, it was literally a toss-up as to what team would show up for each. The Warhawks had a great game against Minnesota the first time, taking it on a snitch catch, but were utterly trampled by the No. 14 Wolverines. In the same respect, Minnesota was able to hang with Michigan, but struggled with the Warhawks, the team that Michigan stomped on. This rematch for the championship was unpredictable. Ultimately, the Gophers were able to take it home and solidify their spot at World Cup.

 

Wolverines: Pool play champs

When it comes down to it, No. 14 Michigan is a very solid team, but they seem to always miss that last step going forward. They make it all the way to the bracket with a good seed, but then fail to get past a team in the early rounds, sending them home early. This seems to be a problem for a few teams in sports, but in quidditch this is a bug that a lot of teams have taken on when it comes to big tournaments. In the past World Cups, there have been teams like this that they play phenomenal on group play day, but then just can’t get over that bracket hump. I think with a smaller, quicker, and agile team like Michigan, the bracket turns into: what is the best match-up and did we snag it this time. They always seem to meet up with No. 20 Michigan State in every tournament. It literally wouldn’t be a tournament without them playing each other, and once again it was the two meeting in the elite eight.

 

What the hell is a golden gopher?

This is a good question, and a better one is when will we finally see the real Minnesota team? They played very inconsistently this past weekend, and they really have a tendency to do that at big tournaments, but ultimately they put it together when it counts. This weekend however, they came very close to not qualifying for World Cup VI. They were missing a few players that will be key to their success going into the future, but overall there was an air of caution with this team that we haven’t seen in the years past. They were a smaller and younger team than before, and it will be interesting to see what they accomplish this year. This team has their bags packed for Florida, and now they just need to start playing up to their potential to really put together a full tournament of play and prove they aren’t just a day two team if they make it.

 

 

Pool V: Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois State, and Missouri

 

Pool V had the same situation as Pool II, with one team dropping out at the last minute. For No. 20 Michigan State, this was great as they had more time to rest and get ready for their big game against Ohio State. This pool was a closer, in the sense that Michigan State didn’t take care of Ohio State as strongly that many assumed they would. The Buckeyes put on a very good defensive show this weekend, and they kept MSU within a snitch grab. Illinois State, a team that seemed to be on the outs, even though last year produced a very good run in the Midwest Cup, struggled to make it to the second day of play. After finally making it on a points differential against Grand Valley State, they upset the heavily favored No. 6 seed, the Centaurs of Central Michigan.

 

Overall, this group turned out fairly natural in their process of ordering, and the surprise bid to the World Cup went to Illinois State, but all teams played well and definitely deserved their spots going into the offseason.

 

Buckeyes Growing

The Ohio State team showed a lot of promise this weekend on all aspects of the pitch, and they created a lot of distinct game play. They have a very unique beater and defensive style that is strong and hard to get around for some of the best teams. A perfect example would be when second place Bowling Green was barely able to tack on 10 points before a snitch catch about 20 minutes into their game against OSU. Ohio State has created a very good defensive team that will make a splash at the next level. The worry for them is their offense, which may really take off with more practice in this offseason as they prepare for Florida.

 

Spitfires – question mark

The No. 20 Michigan State Spitfires are a team that has been on everyone’s radar since the beginning of quidditch. As one of the major perennials of the Midwest, they are looked to as consistent winners and a team that would be in the final four almost every time. They didn’t disappoint this season either, with an awesome keeper in Tyler Rafferty, and they have a new and fast chaser/snitch, Jacob Heppe. They have consistency in chasers Lawrence Lazewski and Ben “Snowman” Ackland, but what does that sum up to? It is unknown what this team will accomplish this year.

They had a good first day in pool play, but their performance against Bowling Green may lower them from the ranks of the elite Midwest teams. While Bowling Green is a very good team, the 110-30 loss still says something about MSU’s strength. The team did play Michigan before, so fatigue could have been a factor for them. If that is the case, then the offseason before world cup should include preparing for the conditioning aspect of play. This team is good, but knowing how good relative to other teams will be challenging with this transition of the reliable old team to a new generation of players. The turnover after this year may be hard, but the overall program still stays as a perennial powerhouse in the Midwest as a semifinalist this year.

 

Tournament Teams

 

In the Midwest, we like to have tournament teams. It’s something to get the names of key players out there, and really develop what would be an all-star team based off the tournament and players’ abilities by position. Since this was such a large tournament, we created a three-tier system of what would be a 1st Team, 2nd Team, and an Honorable Mention Team from this tournament and the current players in the Midwest region. These players are names you should look for in the tournaments to come, especially the World Cup.

 

1st Team

Seekers

This team consists of the best of the best from this tournament. Alex Busbee of Marquette would be our top seeker from the tournament as he went 5/6 with snitches and caught the ones that counted, especially his catch over Team USA seeker, Tyler Macy. This is the second time Busbee has been attached to a tournament team out of the Midwest, and he has done nothing but improve over this young season. Mike Baillis is also listed due to his catches against Michigan State and Kansas, knocking off two of the Eighth Man’s top twenty teams in one tournament with his grabs.

 

 

Chasers

The standouts would definitely be the two men that met in the finals: Daniel Daugherty, BGSU, and Bobby Roth, Marquette. These two had amazing tournaments and were heavy parts of their team’s successes this past weekend, scoring a majority of both of their teams’ points. Their power and ability to drive the ball, block with the quaffle, and overall understanding of where to go with the game was just a cut above everyone else.
The other two males on this team leave nothing on the pitch when it comes to the play of Devon McCoy, BSQL, and Andrew Axtell, Michigan. These two players put on amazing performances throughout the weekend. Devon especially had a phenomenal game physically against the future Midwest Champions of Marquette. Devon’s ability to make his way to the hoop and score along with his passion on the field provided that emotional spark that can be contagious for a team.

 

Andrew is no step down either, and his abilities to cut and drive are top class. Like Busbee, this is Axtell’s second tournament team appearance, and his play was nothing but top class. He as a player and captain did all he could this past weekend, and he kept the games within snitch range, it just wasn’t their weekend for the title. Andrew however will continue to impress with his skills no matter where Michigan finishes.

 

For the ladies on the chaser side of the ball, there were two that really stood out as well, Katie Milligan, BGSU, and Cecilia Ware, Marquette,  another match-up from the finals. They both created amazing plays for their teams and knew where to go, passed well, and ended up with quite a few points for their teams. Milligan was a leader emotionally and an amazing captain for the BGSU team. She played extremely well and created a lot of options for herself even with her smaller size. Katie was quick and drove with authority and you would never see her back away from a tackle on the pitch.

 

Cecilia Ware differs from Milligan in her size and ability to drive with more of a presence. Ware, a former basketball player, took to the pitch in what was her first tournament, and she impressed. Scoring a decent amount of points on the Marquette offense, she was able to recognize where to go and what to do at such a high game play level. While not as fast as Milligan, her presence is felt more in her almost 6’0” height. She was a great outlet for her team, and was someone to keep watch of in games.

 

 

Beaters

Ashley Calhoun: learn the name. From Central Michigan, a team that just missed qualifying for the World Cup, she is one of the best female beaters in the sport. Her presence and ability to play intelligently from start to finish is amazing. She plays with a swagger and a level of confidence with the ball that most beaters don’t have, and her aggression is perfect. They always say to make a good beater you have to be a little crazy, and Ashley is just the right kind of crazy.
Miranda Sanderlin is also one of the best of the best. Her play was crazy good and she was able to throw off what used to be the IQA’s top offense in Kansas not only once, but she did it twice in two days. Her play, accompanied by 2nd Team player John Stephens, was some of the best 1-2 combo in the Midwest, which helped earn Purdue their Division I bid.

 

The talents of Dan Snyder from Michigan State and the passionate leading of Anthony DeCapite and Bowling Green can’t be ignored. These two gentlemen provided the audience with amazing play and overall some top notch beating throughout the weekend. Their ability to work off their partners and with their chasers while still maintaining possession throughout this tournament was solid. Again, DeCapite was part of a team that held the former IQA’s highest offense to less than 100 quaffle points this tournament.

 

 

Keepers

For the keepers, the first pick is someone that was already on a tournament team for the Eighth Man, John Lenderts, Ball State, and the second is a not so normal keeper whose performance was above most of the rest of the keepers, Hai Nguyen, Kansas. Lenderts was able to lead his team to the semi finals against Marquette, and their ability to physically hang with anyone at this tournament was impressive. He had great games and really accomplished an amazing amount of plays as the point man for much of the Ball State offense. Hai, while not the best defensive keeper, had phenomenal games as well from the point position and led his team, no matter how beaten up or injured, to be in contention for the game or at least within a snitch catch. They proved that to be a good keeper in the  region, the facilitating of the quaffle is key and the ability to take it yourself when necessary rests on this position.

 

 

2nd Team

 

Honorable Mention Team

 


Overall…

The Midwest Regional Championship was a very interesting and eye-opening experience for the teams and the community of quidditch as a whole. The Midwest had always had a handful of really good teams, but nothing  out of the ordinary on top for the most part. Marquette, BGSU, and Ball State have proven that they can play on the elite level. Right behind them would be Michigan State, Michigan, and a healthy Kansas. With these six teams all making their way to Florida, we will have quite a few represented on Day Two, in addition to the other four qualifying teams, who are not to be taken lightly either. The Midwest has improved significantly this past year, and the region will surely have some say in who takes home this World Cup this year.

 

(Luke Changet contributed reporting to this article.)

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