The Eighth Man

Countdown to Kissimmee: Ohio State University

Credit: Bruce Maher

Credit: Bruce Maher

Ohio State University has been on the cusp of winning big all year. They began the year with a semi-final loss to No. 2 University of Maryland at the Sirius Blacksburg Brawl, followed up by a runner-up finish to No. 12 Ball State University, a game they lost, 60*-50, at the Phoenix Cup. They then lost to eventual MWRC runner-ups No. 15 Bowling Green State University in the quarter-finals of MWRC, 40*-10 in a long, drawn out, defensive struggle. OSU then traveled to Toledo for the Glass City Quidditch Classic, and were defeated in heartbreaking fashion by No. 14 Michigan State University, again in the quarter-finals, 70*^-60. OSU has one more tournament before World Cup, The Spartan Quidditch Bonanza hosted by Michigan State, to prove that they can win a big game and become a true threat in Florida.

Best Wins: vs. Bowling Green State University( 40*-30, Oct. 21), vs. University of Minnesota (80*-50, Nov. 11)

Worst Losses: vs. Eastern Michigan (50*-30, 10-14-12)

Key Players: Most of Ohio State’s gameplay flows through senior tri-captain and beater/seeker Luke Changet. An imposing force on the pitch at a broad-shouldered six feet, Changet is one of those rare beaters – strong, vocal and skilled enough to command the attention of opponents and onlookers alike. In the Midwest, which often features quiet and efficient beaters, Changet stands out with a beating style more evocative of human bludger catapults like UCLA’s Asher King-Abramson.

Changet is a fearsome on-ball defender, putting high pressure on the quaffle and imposing his will over the midfield. His signature pump-fake is responsible, directly or indirectly, for creating many of his team’s turnovers. But despite his undeniable physical prowess, what sets Changet apart is his leadership. He is more often than not the most vocal player on the pitch, and his excellent field vision ensures that he is always in the right place at the right time. Changet also subs in as a more-than-capable on-pitch seeker, recording several impressive catches, including a diving snatch at MWRC against one of the Midwest’s best snitches, Daniel Daugherty, just a few seconds after a play restart.

Tri-Captain and keeper David Hoops is a tremendous athlete. At just 6’ 2”, he is relatively short as far as keepers go, but Hoops makes up for it with a great vertical leap and terrific reactions. Hoops has great hands defensively, and is always plucking balls out of the air that seemed headed over his head. He doesn’t have a lot of size, but is able to wrap up effectively and bring players down when he needs to. Offensively, Hoops is fast and can get downfield quickly. He also has a very good long shot, and has the potential to score from close to midfield.

Players to watch: Beater Julie Fritz is ferocious. She is always looking for someone to hit, and loves doing it. OSU often puts Fritz in at chaser when they need a boost in physicality. In addition to being one of the most aggressive players on the pitch, Fritz also has impeccable positioning, and is always in the right place to make a beat. Fritz and Changet make up one of the scariest beater duos in the Midwest.

Chaser Jeremy Boettner is rapidly becoming one of OSU’s go-to players both offensively and defensively. Just a Freshman, Jeremy has grown up fast and is now one of OSU’s best support players. Offensively, he can beat defenders and put up tough points near the hoops, and always seems to work himself into great position to catch a pass in space. Defensively, Boettner is fast enough to stay with his man, and physical enough to not let him by.

Strategy: The Buckeyes are a defense first quidditch team. They play tough man to man defense with a great bludger game that brings offenses to a halt. OSU attempts to force opponents into making mistakes by applying pressure with their beaters, and their chasers are always ready to break up a bad pass or jump on a loose ball. They play to force offenses to the outside, and don’t allow easy points near the hoops. Offensively, OSU likes to spread the field and move the ball around, looking for an opportunity to drive. OSU plays a slower-paced game, with an emphasis on not making mistakes.

Strengths: OSU’s biggest strength is their all-around defense. Their beaters are well-disciplined and accurate, their chasers are physical enough and always keep their positioning, and all of their keepers have speed, length, and the reflexes to make great saves.

Weaknesses: OSU doesn’t capitalize on their offensive opportunities, and oftentimes miss easy goals due to sloppy ball-handling or poor awareness. Combined with what has proved to be a very inconsistent seeker game, this simply won’t cut it.

Prediction: With a solid defense, the Buckeyes have a shot against just about anybody, but due to their shaky seeking game, may have difficulties at World Cup. OSU will probably make it to bracket play, but will likely be eliminated in the first round. A bad weekend could see them falling short of Day Two, while a good one would likely top off with a trip to the Sweet 16.

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