The Eighth Man

Countdown To Kissimmee: University of Maryland

Over the past year, Maryland Quidditch has quickly rose from an average team to an elite powerhouse of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

Over the past year, Maryland Quidditch has quickly risen from an average team to an elite team from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

 

While we have featured some very talented teams from across the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic, it’s tough to say any of them are true title contenders. Until now. University of Maryland Quidditch has gone from a middle-of-the-pack squad to a certified powerhouse in just under a year. They started the season with two straight tournament victories, running over their competition, and they dominated foes right up until their regional championship tilt with Villanova, ultimately falling to a snitch grab. Despite the Regional Finals hiccup, this team is poised to make a run for the cup.

 

Best Wins: vs. University of Pittsburgh x2 (150*-80, Nov. 4, 120*-50, Oct. 14), vs. Penn State University (150*-60, Oct. 14), vs. Ohio State University (140*-20, Sept. 28)

 

Worst Losses: None

 

Key Players: Even those not extremely familiar with Maryland Quidditch could name a few big names from this great team. First, you have Team USA keeper James Hicks. Hicks is the anchor to Maryland’s strong defense, helping the team to an impressive 26 quaffle points allowed per game. A formidable keeper who never lets anyone, or anything, past him, Hicks is also one of the best passers the game has ever seen. His razor sharp passes are often key to helping Maryland score against tough defenses.

Another big name coming out of College Park is Harry Greenhouse, chaser and seeker extraordinaire. Greenhouse is short but sturdy, and uses his wrestling background to his advantage when battling against both opposing chasers as well as the snitch. He is one of the team’s leading scorers, and as soon as the snitch returns to the field, Greenhouse throws on a yellow headband and almost always catches the man in gold. For these reasons, Greenhouse is a key to the team’s success. Although they have many other great players, they struggle to succeed if Greenhouse has an off day. Luckily for them, this rarely happens.

While these big names certainly play a pivotal role in the success of Maryland’s Quidditch team, there are many others who have propelled this team to its amazing season thus far. Instead of choosing one final key player, however, I have chosen to focus on a unique advantage that Maryland holds over many other teams: their strong female chasing. Erin Mallory, Liz Miles, and Sam Medney make up a core of female chasers unmatched by any other team. The three sometimes take the field as a unit, and they all have the ability to carry, distribute, defend and score. These three can lead a team to victory  by themselves.

 

Player to Watch: Somehow, nobody ever talks about Josh Marks. People like Hicks, Greenhouse, Sarah Woolsey, and Pat Rardin get most of the publicity for Maryland, but Marks, one of their fearless leaders, gets very little. Marks is strong on the field, an imposing keeper who any team should worry about. Even more than that, he is their emotional and strategic leader off the field. Although credit for their meteoric rise belongs to dozens of people, I would say Josh Marks deserves a bundle of the credit. His attitude towards the game is infectious, and his emotion spreads to his teammates.

 

Strategy: Maryland’s strategy is simple enough: utilize their good players in order to win.

But seriously, while their strategy is certainly more intricate than that, that’s what it comes down to. Maryland has a host of quick players who have the ability to finesse their way to goals, as well as many bigger, stronger players with strengths in other areas. Their captains are able to utilize these players in the best ways possible in order to get the most from them. Maryland will throw a speedy lineup out to start the game, and as soon as a team adjusts their defense accordingly, they will change things up to create confusion. This strategy keeps teams off balance for the entire game, and enables Maryland to keep a constant advantage.

In addition, Maryland loves to get out and run when possible. When they can’t, they usually run their slow offense through Hicks, who stands at the top of the offense, directing his teammates and making passes to open things up. On defense, UMD places one beater with a bludger up top on the ball-carrier, leaving their three chasers free to man up against the opposing team’s keeper and chasers. This allows the team to keep tight control on defense and limit the amount of open passes and driving lanes available.

 

Strengths: Maryland biggest strength is its depth. While it is hard enough to stop a few great players, the problem is compounded when those players are backed up by multiple lines of quality chasers, beaters, and keepers. The team is never forced to put a player onto the pitch who it isn’t completely comfortable with. Additionally, they have some of the best minds in quidditch, and their team takes the game seriously. Their stringent practice and conditioning schedule combined with the strategic approach they take allows them to constantly improve.

 

Weaknesses: Maryland has very few weaknesses, but like any team, they are not perfect. Overall, they rely a bit too much on Greenhouse. The squad is full of fantastic chasers and keepers, yet Greenhouse plays a good portion of every game at chaser. While he is a great player, the team needs him to catch the snitch, and often-times he has been playing at full speed for an entire game by the time the snitch returns to the field. While he is a great seeker, there are other great seekers who he will face off against who will be well-rested when the snitch returns to the pitch.

 

Prediction: Maryland will, in my opinion, roll their way to an Elite Eight appearance. In all likelihood, I see this team in the Final Four as well. Though it’s nearly impossible to predict beyond that without seeing the potential matchups beforehand, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see the red, black, and white – and yellow –  lifting up an empty bottle of booze in April.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.