The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: Hofstra University

Hofstra has seen itself morph from a relatively unknown team to a top tier team in the Northeast in just one year. Last year at World Cup, few people predicted that Hofstra would escape their group, but they made it to the brackets and have been improving ever since. Though they have yet to beat either of the big two Boston teams this season, Hofstra defeated Emerson 90-60 in March 2012 at the Stony Brook Classic and they came close to a repeat at the regionals, showing that this team is on the cusp of being one of the best.

The Hofstra team poses at the Northeast Regional Championships. Credit: Hofstra Quidditch

The Hofstra team poses at the Northeast Regional Championships. Credit: Hofstra Quidditch

Best Wins: vs. Rochester (130*-10, Oct. 27), vs. Macaulay (170-70*, Nov. 17)

 

Worst Loss: vs. Vassar (40*-30, Sept. 23)

 

Key Players: Hofstra’s biggest name is captain Jayke Archibald, and with good reason. Jayke has helped to lead this team to its position high up among Northeast teams. He is one of the best all-around players in the region, and has helped to create a competitive team in Hempstead. Archibald’s long, slender frame helps him both outrun and out-jump opponents, and he has a surprising strength which makes him hard to bring down. Archibald is particularly great at weaving through defenses and making defenders miss, and his knowledge of the game is unparalleled. Archibald is not used to playing with such great players around him, however, and must get out of the habit of trying to do it all himself. Hofstra is a great overall team, and when they play like that, they play their best.

Alex Leitch is one of the most obnoxious beaters on the entire east coast to play against, and according to his team, that’s nothing compared to how he is in practice. He is pesky, sneaky, fierce, and merciless on the field, and does not relent against anyone. In terms of beats per game x percentage of game with bludger control (which I have just decided should be a new statistic), there are few who can compete with Leitch. He plays extremely aggressively and is all over the field, yet is somehow extremely prudent and cautious in a way that helps him hold onto his bludger for most of the game. Additionally, his style of play tends to frustrate opponents and force them into mistakes.

 

Players to Watch: Sometimes the best players are those you would never think are, and that is certainly the case with Theresa Buchta, beater for Hofstra. Small, quiet, and unassuming, Buchta hardly gives off an intimidating presence to opponents. Once the game starts, however, it is apparent how crucial Buchta is to her team. If Leitch is the aggressive, frustrating beater for Hofstra, then Buchta is the exact opposite. She is smart, patient, calculating, and an absolute defensive force. I played on a fantasy team with her, and after just one game or two I had complete trust in her ability to back me up on defense, even if our team only had one bludger. Having a beater you can trust is vital, and Buchta is one of the best.

Freddy Varone, the short, sturdy captain of Hofstra, plays a million different roles for them. He chases, using his strength and accurate arm to help his team score. He seeks, utilizing a scrappy and speedy strategy to catch snitches off-guard and help his team win games. Finally, he coaches, pacing up and down the sideline yelling at his players and helping to direct the team. He may not be considered the “best” at any one thing, but anyone who thinks Varone is not one of Hofstra’s most important players is dead wrong.

 

Strengths: Right off the bat, Hofstra is one of those teams that you always have to worry about. Due to their combination of strong individual players, sound strategy, great leadership, and tons of experience, Hofstra is an all-around good team. It’s tough to exploit them, and very few teams will be able to blow them out (if any).

Additionally, Hofstra has some of the best beaters in the country. Utilizing them and their quick yet strong chasers, this team is extremely strong in a set defense, especially when they have time to set up.

 

Weaknesses: Hofstra’s offense at times can get very stagnant. They usually run a very slow, patient, methodical set offense, and while this works at times, it can be stopped by an aggressive defense that shortens the field by pushing up. In this case Hofstra tends to get frustrated and make poor decision.

Also, while Hofstra has a strong defense, they are a little weak in their transition defense. With their slow, set offense, the team can often get caught up in that speed and not get back on defense in time when their opponent gets out and runs a fast break.

 

Prediction: Hofstra will come out strong, especially if they are underestimated by their opponents, and will probably earn second in their group. The most likely outcome I see for this team from Long Island is an exit in the Sweet 16, though an Elite 8 appearance is not out of the cards for them.

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