The Eighth Man

Cardiac Kids from Michigan State finish on top of Glass City

On a snowy weekend in Ohio, Michigan State road the hot hand of their seekers to a tournament title. Credit: Meyessa Mansour

On a snowy weekend in Ohio, Michigan State road the hot hand of their seekers to a tournament title. Credit: Meyessa Mansour

The Michigan State University Spartan Spitfires took home the first ever Glass City Quidditch Classic in a thrilling finals match against rivals No. 18 University of Michigan, winning 80*-50. Buckeye Cable Sports Network (BCSN) aired the finals and the semi-finals, making this tournament the second-ever televised quidditch event, and the first large tournament to be televised. But the tournament wasn’t all about the end of bracket play: with snowy conditions leveling the playing field, many games on both days were up for grabs until the final seconds. The result was a tournament chock-full of upsets and surprises.

Pool 1

Made up of No. 14 Bowling Green State University, Central Michigan University, Loyola University – Chicago, University of Toledo, and the College of Wooster, this pool was expected to be rather exciting. Both CMU and Loyola narrowly missed qualifying for World Cup, and many believe that CMU deserved to qualify. The game between CMU and BGSU was intense, and CMU, with the help of beater extraordinaire Ashley Calhoun, was able to control the bludgers for much of the game – not an easy task against BGSU’s strong beaters line. In the end, BGSU prevailed on the snitch grab to win 90*-40. After this tough matchup, BG was able to roll through the rest of their Day 1 schedule, only giving up a total five goals in their other three games.

Elsewhere in the pool, Loyola upset CMU 40*-30 in a low-scoring, high-intensity matchup. The game was characterized by tough defensive play, with scoring opportunities coming few and far between. Even though CMU dominated the game physically, Loyola was able to hold off their high-powered attack just long enough to secure the ten point victory by snitch snatch.

The host team Toledo, in their first year of IQA membership, played better than expected. After a disappointing Midwest Regionals and head-to-head against BGSU a few weeks back, Toledo wasn’t expected to do much at this tournament. And though their win-loss record in pool play doesn’t show it, Toledo performed much better than anticipated, with a very close game against Loyola where Toledo was expected to be dominated. Toledo fought hard and ended up losing 140*-80 while within snitch range.

Pool 2

Pool two was by far the craziest pool of the tournament. Featuring MSU, Purdue University, Miami University – Ohio, and Ohio University, there were bound to be plenty of evenly matched games, but few could have foreseen the multiple major upsets. Purdue, who took down Kansas University twice at Midwest Regionals, beat MSU 60*-30 in a match that MSU entered as heavy favorites. The game started out slowly, with both teams feeling out the other, but rapidly picked up in intensity, particularly on the defensive end. Purdue chaser Kyle Isch, a tremendous athlete, led the Purdue attack both offensively and defensively. Bludger control was tough to hold onto, and switched hands often, each team controlling the bludgers for about an equal time in the game. Eventually, the game came down to the snitch, and Purdue came away victorious.

A second major upset came in a rivalry matchup between Ohio and Miami. Ordinarily, Miami would be expected to win this game in a landslide, as they are an established team and this was OU’s first real tournament. However, half of Miami’s starters were delayed by a car accident, and the game had to start without them. When they arrived, OU held a decent lead, 90-40. But when the rest of Miami arrived, and immediately started playing, the momentum shifted. Miami scored four unanswered goals in quick succession, and was on the verge of taking the lead. This author, as snitch, had been back on the field for some time now. Miami’s seeker had been guarding me for most of the game; OU had the same seeker on the pitch for almost the entire time, and he was tired. When the game was back within snitch range, and both teams had been attacking me for some time, OU switched seekers, and their original keeper was sent after me. He had very long arms, and was able to grab the snitch as I threw him to the side, giving OU the upset victory, 120*-80.

Later in the day, Miami was able to redeem their earlier loss with an upset 70*-30 win over World Cup qualifiers Purdue. OU was defeated soundly by both MSU and Purdue 110*-10 and 70*-10, respectively, meaning that if Miami beat MSU they would be able to win their pool. The game was slow, and Miami was held just out of snitch range for most of it. Eventually, Lawrence Lazewski of MSU was able to take over the game with a series of long-range floating shots through the middle hoop, answering every time Miami scored. Miami fought hard the whole game, but eventually MSU grabbed the snitch and secured the win, 180*-70.

Pool 3

Pool 3 was always going to come down to the second-ever quidditch iteration of “The Game” between rivals Ohio State University and No. 18 University of Michigan. The first meeting took place at the Harry vs. Draco Rivalry Tournament hosted by Bowling Green, where Michigan prevailed 80*-60. This time, the game was much lower-scoring, with beater play prevailing in the cold, sloppy conditions. Bludger control was split almost evenly, and the scoring followed the same pattern. Michigan is one of the most physical teams in the Midwest, and OSU was able to match their physicality. The game eventually came down to the snitch, Jacob Heppe of MSU, known as one of the best in the region. But, perhaps count off guard by the intensity of the seekers, Heppe was caught quickly, and Michigan won 60*-40.

Elsewhere in the pool, OSU and Michigan each defeated Grand Valley handily, 70-40* and 120-60*, respectively. The Charles School, a Columbus High School team, lost every game substantially. In the end, this pool finished according to the seeding.

Standings

Day Two – Bracket Play

Round One

The top three seeds each earned a bye into the next round. OSU and MSU each won handily and moved on to face each other in the quarterfinals. CMU won in a drawn out game where Miami again was forced to defend the snitch indefinitely, 190*-70. Meanwhile, Toledo upset Loyola in one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, coming up big defensively in a 40*-30 win to advance them to the next round. Ohio, meanwhile, pulled its second upset of the weekend, beating Grand Valley State University 40*-10 in a defensive struggle with a relatively quick snitch snatch.

Round Two – Quarterfinals

Purdue defeated Toledo 100*-30 to advance to the semi-finals, and Michigan handily defeated CMU 120*-30 to secure their spot as well. But on the other side of the bracket, there was more of a struggle.

In one of the most controversial moments of the tournament, Ohio narrowly missed pulling the upset of the year against BGSU, giving them what they thought was a 50*-30 win before a quaffle score and a snitch catch were both ruled off. After a debatable distance shot from Daniel Daugherty, Ohio caught the snitch again, sending the game to overtime. The snitch opted to be subbed out, and I was picked to replace him. About two minutes into the extra period, I was caught by a diving Mike Baillis of BGSU, giving them the win to send them into the semi-finals.

In the final quarterfinal, OSU controlled the bludgers from the start, and didn’t give up control for a second. This gave OSU’s chasers plenty of space to work with on offense, which effectively shut down that of MSU. OSU opened up with a 30-0 lead before MSU’s Lazewski finally broke through, making the score 30-10. OSU scored again before the snitch got back to the pitch, and from there a defensive struggle ensued, neither team giving another inch. The snitch was caught eventually by chaser/seeker Jacob Heppe of MSU, an incredibly athlete. In overtime, MSU opted to focus almost entirely on the snitch, putting both of their beaters on seeker duty. This turned out to be a risky strategy, as OSU scored twice in the first minute of added time and threatened to pull out of snitch range against the bludgerless MSU defense. But eventually, Heppe struck again and secured the 70*^-60 win for MSU, a heartbreaking loss for OSU.

Semi-Finals

The semi-finals were broadcast by BCSN, a Toledo-area sports news station. The games should be available on DVD from the BCSN website (http://www.bcsnstore.com/) within a week or two.

In the first semi-final, MSU was riding the momentum from their win over OSU, and built up a substantial lead over BGSU. I was snitching, and when I returned, the score was already 100-50 in MSU’s favor. This lead was maintained for a while, but BGSU defended me vehemently. Their effort paid off, and they eventually pulled within snitch range at 120-90. At that point, Sam Roitblat of BGSU almost immediately made a diving grab, sending MSU into overtime for the second straight match. The period was tense, and quaffle play ground to a halt, neither team managing to score in OT. About one minute in, Heppe was able to make an incredible diving grab as I was throwing him off to my side.  MSU advanced, 150^-120*.

In the second semi-final, Michigan faced a weakened and tired Purdue squad. Michigan was able to impose their will for the most part, and maintained a moderate lead throughout the entire game, but Purdue was always just a few goals away from striking distance. The snitch, who was defended by Purdue, was able to last a while, but eventually he was worn down and caught by Michigan, giving them the win and a date with MSU in the finals, 120*-30.

Finals

MSU and Michigan know each other very well. They are the two most established teams from Michigan, and local rivals as well. MSU and Michigan met at MWRC, where MSU defeated Michigan 90*-80 to advance to the semi-finals. This time, with a tournament title on the line, the game was sure to be intense and did not disappoint. The teams traded goals for most of the game, and bludger control was constantly shifting. There were several big hits and a few cards, but for the most part this game was pretty even.

Heppe again came through big for MSU, but this time as a chaser. Heppe scored several key goals, using a combination of speed to get around the defense and strength to run through tackles. But in snitch play, this time it was Jack Norgren of MSU who made the snatch, catching an unsuspecting Evan Adkins and securing the tournament win for MSU, 80*-50.

Summary

This was the most competitive tournament the Midwest has seen since Regionals, and was a great tournament for every World Cup Qualified team in attendance. MSU proved that they are once again a legitimate threat, beating three world cup qualified teams in a row to take home the title. Michigan showed that they are just as scary as ever, catching every snitch until the finals and dominating in almost every game they played. BGSU suffered through a scare against OU to come back and go toe-to-toe with the eventual champions, proving that their run at Regionals was no fluke. Purdue again demonstrated that even lacking depth, they have the ability to beat a top team, and OSU showed that their defense is as sturdy as ever, giving up only 12 QPPG (quaffle points per game) and finally showing signs of an offense.

The tournament was also successful for Toledo, who advanced to the quarterfinals and redeemed their name a bit from a disappointing start to the season, and Ohio, who showed that they have the attitude it takes to compete with top teams, beating two official teams and almost pulling off a huge upset in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, CMU and Loyola performed to expectations, though they each could have done better in bracket play.

Tournament MVP

Jacob Heppe – Seeker, Michigan State: Heppe caught three snitches in bracket play – two to win games and one to send it to overtime – giving his team life again and again on their run to the finals. Heppe also contributed on offense, averaging multiple goals per game as a chaser. Without Heppe, MSU’s offense wouldn’t be nearly as threatening, and their seeker game would only be slightly above average. With Heppe, their offense is one of the best quick strike offenses in the game, and their seeker game is extraordinary. To top it all off, he’s still only a freshman: we can’t wait to see his game develop in the coming years.

7 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.