The Eighth Man

Viewer’s Guide for Day One of World Cup VI

With 60 teams playing on nine fields in 18 times slots, the schedule for the World Cup this year can be quite a bit overwhelming. Even if you get your bearings, some of the individual decisions are nearly impossible. How do you choose between Boston University against Villanova and Bowling Green against UCLA?

Well, we’re here to make it a little bit easier on you. Below is our ideal schedule for day one, with descriptions for each game. Factors we used included talent level, competitiveness, and how much the game is likely to matter in the larger scheme. So, without further ado, our games to watch for day one of the World Cup.

 

9:00 am: Silicon Valley Skrewts vs. University of Florida (Field 2)

We start the day with highest-placing World Cup V team to qualify this year, the University of Florida. After a rocky season, Florida came out of pool play at Southern Regionals with the No. 2 seed before falling to upstart Tennessee Tech in the semifinals. Many expect Florida, which has much of the same squad it brought to New York City in 2011, to find that same magic on their home turf, and they’re presented a gift in arguably the weakest pot one team, the Silicon Valley Skrewts, who will be facing the defending World Cup runners-up to start their tournament for the second straight cup. With Penn State also lurking in this pool, the loser of this game could be in serious trouble less than an hour into the World Cup. It’s also going to be fun to watch the class of size and strength between Kevin Oelze of the Skrewts and Dre Clements of the Gators.

 

9:40 am: No. 7 Boston University vs. Austin Quidditch (Field 6)

If anyone is going to get in the way of the much-discussed game between Boston University and Villanova, it’s going to be Austin Quidditch. University of Texas’ second team, they won’t be intimidated by the big name squads across the pitch from them. They are also willing to scrap, something that could be a hindrance on the Terriers’ pure, clean break and pass offensive style. This is also an important chance to see the state of Boston University’s play. They haven’t played an official game in 2013, and outside of a few scrimmages with Emerson, have been totally inactive. They’ll also be without starting keeper Brendan Stack, and with beater Katrina Bossotti joining the team for the first time this semester. Austin is a definite upset candidate here.

Don't sleep on Austin Quidditch in their early upset bid against Boston University. Credit: Lauren Carter

Don’t sleep on Austin Quidditch in their early upset bid against Boston University. Credit: Lauren Carter

10:20 am: No. 12 University of Southern California vs. University of South Florida (Field 3)

This one could be known as the Battle of the Underachievers. USC went as high as first in the world in our rankings before they started bleeding players left and right, dropped a game to Div. II Stanford, got dismantled by UCLA in the Western Regional semifinals, and finished as a pot two team. USF, meanwhile, was a World Cup V quarterfinalist and widely considered to be the South’s second-best team before falling to Florida in pool play at Regionals and getting bounced by the University of Southern Mississippi in the quarterfinals, forcing them to scramble to qualify. Still, these teams, no matter the issues, bring plenty of skill to the table, making this one of the day one games with the most individual and physical talent on both sides of the ball. The winner will depend almost exclusively on which team decides to show up for each of these schools that day.

 

11:00 am: Arizona State University vs. No. 15 LSU (Champ. Field)

Both of these teams have been around the block quite a few times. ASU has two Western Cup titles to its name, while LSU has been competing since World Cup II. But each may also enter the tournament with a chip on their shoulder – many consider LSU to be outside of the top tier of the Southwest at this point, while ASU has been surpassed in the West. Both teams has a heavy hitter, with Brad Armentor facing off against Willie Jackson, but also have developed a supporting cast of players more recently. Neither can afford to give an inch in a pool that also includes Miami, so we should see the best of both sides.

 

11:40 am: Oklahoma State University vs. Paris Phenix (Field 2)

Paris Phenix holds arguably the best chance of an international team advancing to the knockout rounds. Footage from the European regional shows a well-tuned team, with many players utilizing their experience as members of Team France at the Summer Games. Questions remain about their bludger strategy, but the talent is undoubtedly there. If Paris is going to get there, it likely needs to score wins in this game and against Rochester later in the day. Oklahoma State is arguably the weakest Southwest team at the tournament, shocking Sam Houston State to earn the region’s final bid, but still has that experience against some of the sport’s elite teams to draw on, making them a tough draw.

 

12:20 pm: No. 10 Emerson College vs. University of South Florida (Champ. Field)

This one is a dark horse for day one game of the day. Not only is it a matchup between two of the sport’s storied programs in one of the toughest pools in the tournament, but it’s a rematch of a World Cup V Sweet 16 matchup that was must-see quidditch. USF has a reputation for dirty play, and Emerson undoubtedly paid the price physically in a game they lost, 70*-60. To say there is no love lost between these two is an understatement. But with USF slipping – they failed to make the South Regional final – and their roster in constant flux, look for Emerson to be the ones imposing their physicality this time around.

 

1:00 pm: No. 6 University of Miami vs. No. 15 LSU (Champ. Field)

While LSU may technically be classified as part of the southwest, they, along with Miami, are the powerhouses of the southeast. Yet, while they have many common opponents in the area, they’ve haven’t had a chance to play this season – until now. This should be the first real test for Miami since they traveled west to the Hollywood Bowl way back in October. Watch to see how Team USA member Sean Pagoada, who has been converted to a beater this season, can hold up against an experienced beating core led by his national team squadmate, Sarah Kneiling. Sadly, if the game is close, we won’t be treated to the spectacle of David Moyer vs. Jason Winn. Whether LSU has someone else to give the veteran seeker fits remains to be seen.

Miami proved they could hang with anyone at the Hollywood Bowl. But have they gone soft since? Credit: Kat Ignatova

Miami proved they could hang with anyone at the Hollywood Bowl. But have they gone soft since? Credit: Kat Ignatova

1:40 pm: University of Ottawa vs. Boston Riot (Field 8)

If Paris represents the rest of the world’s best chance to make day two, Ottawa represent the best hopes of the Great White North. The only of the three original Canadian qualifiers to make the trip south, Ottawa’s abilities may be limited by the roster they are able to bring in the end. But they were gifted a friendly draw, with only Marquette as truly elite competition. With Northern Arizona University and Florida State both full of questions, you have to imagine that the winner of this game will move on. But it won’t be easy for Ottawa, as the Riot carry a lot of size and a lot of experience, honed by constant matches with Emerson, Boston University, and Tufts. If Jamie LaFrance isn’t in attendance, it might be tough for Ottawa to hang with the Emerson second team. But if they do hang around, they will likely have the seeking edge.

 

3:00 pm: No. 11 Ball State University vs. Silver Phoenixes (Field 3)

Here we have two teams that no one knows what to think about. Ball State has three tournament victories, but looked questionable at March’s Grindylow Cup and always seem to be left out of conversations about the sports elite. The Silver Phoenixes, meanwhile, suffer from the same dose of constant elite teams that the Riot’s record is plagued by. But can they handle themselves outside of the Southwest? It’s also hard to pass up a game that features Team USA members on both sides of the field, with Mollie Lensing, formerly of Texas A&M and now with the Phoenixes, up against Ball State seeker Tyler Macy.

 

3:40 pm: Johns Hopkins University vs. NYU (Field 2)

We’re going to spend the next two time slots with Pool 3, which seems to have a very clear hierarchy: Texas A&M and Michigan are on top, Johns Hopkins and NYU are a step down, and Fleming brings up the rear. If that all holds, then this game will more or less be for a day two spot. And it should be an exciting one. Both of these teams are chaser-focused, with sizable players willing to be physical, so this one will be a fight to the end, literally and figuratively. And with two questionable seeker games on the field, we can expect a long, drawn out affair with plenty of tense moments.

NYU's Benjamin Moer is one of many players that will be bringing the physicality in this do-or-die game. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

NYU’s Benjamin Moer is one of many players that will be bringing the physicality in this do-or-die game. Credit: Michael Mason Photography

4:20 pm: No. 1 Texas A&M vs. No. 20 University of Michigan (Field 1)

It’s hard to pass up a chance to watch the sport’s best team and prohibitive World Cup favorites in their toughest pool play match. While Michigan is a talented team – physical and with the ability to score – if A&M is half the team we all think they are, they should cruise. And if they are going to make a title run, winning this one by a wide margin to ensure a high seed is the first step.

 

5:00 pm: No. 7 Boston University vs. No. 8 Villanova University (Champ. Field)

From the moment the pools were drawn, this is the game we have all been waiting for. A battle of regional champions and the only game between two teams in the top 10 of our rankings, both of these teams are strong all-around sides with minimal weaknesses. They are well-drilled sides that run their systems – the Villanova passing, the BU fast break – to a T. If it’s close, the game favors the Wildcats and their two talented seekers, Billy Greco and Dan Takaki. But if one team is going to run away with this one, it would be the Terriers, who can score early and often with their up-tempo style. Don’t miss a chance to see the latest chapter in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic debate.

 

5:40 pm: No. 5 University of Maryland vs. No. 18 Lost Boys (Champ. Field)

These two regional runners-up each come with a range of expectations. Some see UMD as the squad that cruised through the entire fall semester before losing on a snitch grab to Villanova, while others see UMD as the team that has stumbled through the spring. Some see the Lost Boys as a team on the rise, while others, the team included, have tried to temper those expectations. Either way, if these teams want to meet their potential, winning the group is step one. Two elite keepers in James Hicks and Tony Rodriguez are on the field, and both can keep scores low or make offense themselves. And if we’re lucky enough to see seekers Steve DiCarlo and Harry Greenhouse going at it for the snitch in a close game, this one could be worth the price of admission by itself.

Maryland is amongst many people's favorites, but will get the Lost Boys' best in a pool-deciding matchup. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

Maryland is amongst many people’s favorites, but will get the Lost Boys’ best in a pool-deciding matchup. Credit: Deanna Edmunds

6:20 pm: Tennessee Tech University vs. Silver Phoenixes (Champ. Field)

By now, we likely will have found out most of what we needed to know about the Tennessee Tech squad that made a shocking run to the South Regional finals. But even if they can’t compete with Hofstra and Ball State, they will have a very real chance of qualifying if they can score a win over the Silver Phoenixes. On the flipside of the coin, this is an opportunity for the Phoenixes to slip into day two with a win. Not much is known about either of these sides, and you likely won’t have a chance to see the loser again, so check it out while you can.

 

7:40 pm: No. 19 Penn State University vs. University of Florida (Field 4)

There are so many interesting scenarios that could be playing out in this game for Pool 2. Many people have Penn State as the de facto favorites in this group, but if they fell to the Skrewts earlier in the day, they could be sweating out this matchup with a talented Florida side. And we could be setting ourselves up for a three-way 3-1 tie at the top, where tiebreakers would be the difference between a top 12 seed and a bottom 12 seed that could lead to an early exit. No matter the situation, there is plenty of talent on this field, highlighted by Clements and PSU’s Michael Parada, making it well worth a watch.

Michael Parada will lead his Penn State side against hometown favorites Florida in a match that could decide the pool. Credit: Michael Mason Photography

Michael Parada will lead his Penn State side against hometown favorites Florida in a match that could decide the pool. Credit: Michael Mason Photography

8:20 pm: Tufts University vs. University of Richmond (Field 6)

We haven’t had a chance to get Pool 10 on the list so far, at least partially because much of it seems predictable. Most expect Texas to run the table, and University of Southern Mississippi to crash out. If that does indeed end up being the case, there will be a lot riding on this game. If they both lost to Ohio State, the game will be a straight win and you make day two scenario. If they both beat Ohio State, they will be playing for that valued second place seeding that guarantees you safety from the play-in round. And if one of them beat the Buckeyes, we enter a complicated situation where every point scored on either side could affect the fates of the three teams. It’s also a chance for each of these teams to prove themselves, with Tufts consistently left out of the top three in the Northeast and Richmond a few steps behind the upper two tiers of the Mid-Atlantic.

 

9:00 pm: No. 4 UCLA vs. Paris Phenix (Champ. Field)

The late night time slots are pretty rough. A lot of top seeds going up against teams far down the pot list. Here, at least we have two regional champions, which is more than any of these other games having going for them. It’s also a rematch of sorts, with Paris, which composed much of the Summer Games team for France in 2012, once again facing off against Team USA members Missy Sponagle and Vanessa Goh.

 

9:40 pm: Sleep

No, really, none of the games in this time slot are worth the extra 40 minutes of lost sleep.

 

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