The Eighth Man

Weekend in Review: New South Wales on Top Down Under, USC falls, RIT rises

Credit: Australia Quidditch

 

The champions had a bumpy road to the title. After being given little respect from the Australian pundits in an online poll – they were picked to win by just one of the 19 voters – then immediately dropped their first match, 80*-50, to the Melbourne Manticores. After taking down Australia National University with relative ease, 90-70*, they faced the University of Western Sydney in a rematch of the 2011 QUAFL cup. The game was low scoring, but in the end New South Wales put it away with a snitch grab, 60*-30. They then dominated James Cook University to finish 3-1. Western Sydney flipped the script on Melbourne, with a late win that gave the pool, and the friendly seeding, to New South Wales.

 

On the other side of the bracket, Macquarie University – one of the favorites coming in – rode an exciting path to Saturday’s only perfect record. After a comfortable win over the University of Newcastle, they got by Perth, 70*-20. They then were sent to overtime by a University of Sydney snitch grab, but recovered with the overtime catch to win a thriller, 170^-140*. Sydney was the 3-1 team in pool A, while Newcastle went 2-2. Perth struggled in the seeker game, losing three matches by snitch grab.

 

The excitement and emotions of Sunday started with a pair of elimination games. In the first, Melbourne recovered from their late Saturday loss – which relegated them to such a low seed – dominating Sydney, 120*-20. In the other, Newcastle looked a different team from the one that went 2-2 in pool play, outscoring Western Sydney before winning on a snitch grab, 100*-50.

 

New South Wales and Macquarie, as the two highest seeds, faced off for direct access to the finals. In an exciting match that looked to be a preview of the finals, New South Wales couldn’t keep up with Macquarie’s firepower but kept it close enough, forcing overtime on a snitch grab and then winning it, 110*^-90, on another.

 

The two play-in winners faced off for a spot in the secondary semifinal, and Newcastle once again had the seeker magic, sneaking by Melbourne, 60*-20. They then dispatched Macquarie in another heart-stopping game, winning 80*-50.

 

It took them a harrowing trip, but the QUAFL favorites were in the finals against a team that no one expected to be there. New South Wales may have been the underdogs, but their seeding gave them an easier path to the finals – they had played only one game Sunday to Newcastle’s three. It didn’t seem to matter, as Newcastle kept things close. The game was well within range when the snitch returned, and it was time for the two teams that had ridden snitch play all the way to the finals to decide the tournament with it.

 

In the end, the well-rested University of New South Wales seeker was up to the task, winning his team their second straight title, 80*-30

 

 

No. 2 USC Drops Dead

You could blame the imperfect roster – which lacked key players including Remy Conatser and August Luhrs. You could blame the bad weather – which may have leveled the playing field but didn’t seem to slow down UCLA’s unofficial squad, the Wizards of Westwood.  Or, you could simply doubt whether the No. 2 University of Southern California deserves such a lofty standing after falling to Stanford University at the Dead Week Classic on Saturday.

 

It was an odd day all around, with the four competing teams creating plenty of results worthy of a double take. USC started the day off against the Lost Boys, who hung with them step-for-step throughout the match. The snitch returned with the game very much still up in the air, but USC was able to secure the snitch grab and avoid the upset.

 

UCLA, despite being unofficial for the weekend, then handled Stanford easily, 130*-50. But that Stanford team then turned around immediately against USC, and, after executing a game plan that kept them in the match, caught the snitch and pulled off the upset, 70*-50.

 

In the next game, the Lost Boys couldn’t break down UCLA’s defense, falling 70*-10. But they then beat a Stanford team fresh off one of the season’s biggest upsets, 120*-90. To conclude the confusion, USC outscored UCLA but was undone by a second straight snitch grab, losing 60*-40.

 

In official play, USC, the Lost Boys and Stanford all finished at 1-1. But the results will leave both USC and the quidditch community searching for answers as we enter winter break.

 

 

RIT Rides Snowballing Momentum to Conference Title

The winter season of the Snowbelt Conference concluded on Saturday with an eight team, single elimination tournament. Seeding was decided by regular season record, with the three World Cup qualified squads – University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology and SUNY Geneseo – seeded at the top. The biggest question of the day was whether Geneseo could maintain their spot at the top of upstate New York quidditch after a run to the quarterfinals at the Northeast Regionals, or whether the Rochester teams would take it back.

 

In the quarterfinals, the favorites cruised. Rochester got caught in a low-scoring game with newcomer Alfred University, but a snitch grab gave them a comfortable 80*-10 win. RIT won 110-30* over WEQL, while Geneseo scored early and often, winning 200*-20.

 

The big surprise of the round was Ithaca College, who sprung an upset on a Syracuse University squad that was one win away from a World Cup bid. Ithaca looked comfortable, dispatching the Orange, 120*-40.

 

Ithaca’s magic only lasted for so long, as Rochester easily moved on to the finals with a 110*-10 victory. In the other semifinal, RIT was able to use its physicality to force a fairly physical Geneseo side into a low-scoring grind. The result was a snitch-range game that RIT was able to put away, 70*-20.

 

In an all Rochester final, RIT once again turned plenty of eyebrows, using stifling defense to dominate their crosstown opponents. The home team didn’t allow a single goal, and got the game out of snitch range in plenty of time. A grab finally gave RIT the win, and the conference title, 80*-0.

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