The Eighth Man

Overreaction Theatre

New York Badassilisks 80* – Macaulay Honors College 0
University of Virginia 80* – University of Richmond 70
Stony Brook University 50* – NYU 20
Virginia Tech 80* – Virginia Commonwealth University 70
University of Southern California 150* – Lost Boys 40
Vassar College 40* – Hofstra University 30

What do these matches have in common? Well, with the exception of USC’s win, the winner of each match failed to make World Cup, while the loser qualified, with most making it out of pool play. Some are shocking because of the result, while others are shocking because of the margin.

What else do they have in common? All six matches took place on the final weekend of last September, and none had any bearing on how the remainder of the season would play out.

Which brings us to this past weekend. With major tournaments in the Midwest, Northeast and South, along with the scrimmage to end all scrimmages between Lone Star and Baylor, there were plenty of relevant results to digest. And in our world, where our attention span is barely long enough to watch a Vine, we are determined to make definitive statements as soon as possible.

So how do we differentiate the meaningful from the meaningless? That’s where Overreaction Theatre comes in. Today’s show takes us from the swamps of Florida to the sun-drenched New England coastline in an attempt to help you figure out what matters and what doesn’t from the first weekend of play

“Lone Star is a lock for the Cup, but Baylor is going nowhere fast.”

In a summer of community team hype, Lone Star’s may have been biggest. Featuring a starting line that resembles last year’s World Cup winning side – Kody Marshall, Simon Arends, Sarah Holub and Stephen Bell – and enough other veterans to fill a quidditch Hall of Fame, the side vaunted to the top of our rankings without having played a game together.

Baylor, meanwhile, was also picked by many to be the Southwest favorites. With Texas and A&M both dealing with heavy roster turnover, the Bears were expected to returns with almost everyone from their Final Four squad. The public took notice, and three of our writers picked them to be the preseason number one.

On Saturday, what was scheduled to be an epic three game scrimmage between the two instead played out as a single short game under ominous skies. Lone Star dominated with a comprehensive 70*-0 win over the Bears, who scored at least 30 quaffle points in every game they played last season.

Verdict: Split, Overreaction and Proper Reaction

Lone Star maintained their hype levels with an impressive performance. However, it still boils down to a 10 minute scrimmage under poor weather conditions in each team’s first intercollegiate game of the year. To think that such a small sample could tell us much of anything about a team we were picking to be No. 1 before they played is foolish at best. Breakfast Taco should paint a much clearer picture.

Baylor’s loss would be equally harmless to their reputation if not for the underlying issues that caused it. Paul Williard is gone, while brother Mark is recovering from a hand injury. Brittany Ripperger showed up for the day in an arm cast that is expected to sideline her through November. Reed Marchman also wasn’t present, though he still may be with the team. That all adds up to a lot more early season turnover than this teams was expected to need. With a light fall schedule, it could be tough for the Bears to put it all together.

 

“Boston Massacre didn’t deserve the hype.”

All eyes were on Boston for the Massacre’s first ever official games, which included a pool play matchup with Emerson College and a semifinal tilt with Boston University. Against Emerson, they set a physical but clean tone, leading to a low-scoring affair in which neither team would give an inch. When the snitch returned the game still very much hung in the balance, and it was Emerson seeker against Emerson seeker as Ryan Barnaba took on his old team. But Emerson came out on top, taking the pool and dealing Massacre an early blow.

Things went even worse in bracket play. Up against Boston University, Massacre fell behind early, struggled to score – managing to score just 10 points before the snitch arrived – and eventually fell, 120*-30. As the always eloquent Mitch Cavender put it, “#hypetrainderail?”

Verdict: Overreaction

The semifinal score line was less a commentary on the struggles of Massacre and more of one on the strength of the Terriers. Massacre’s beating core must still come together as a unit, while Max Havlin and Katrina Bossotti have a case for the best beating pair on the entire east coast after putting on dominant performances in big games.

Almost everything that Massacre struggled with is fixable. A lot of missed open passes showed an offense slightly out of sync but with the potential for greatness. At beater there is talent, particularly in Kara Levis, and potential, Sheldon Bostic is a physical specimen, but still things need to come together. And seeking, while now seemingly a Massacre problem, is also an overall Boston quidditch problem.

When it comes down to it, Massacre has the talent and the ability, we just need to give them some time.

 

One fall day wasn't enough to accurately judge the Boston Massacre's potential. Credit: Michael Mason/IQA Staff

One fall day wasn’t enough to accurately judge the Boston Massacre’s potential. Credit: Michael Mason/IQA Staff

“Bowling Green looks very, very beatable.”

In Bowling Green’s defense, they won all five games they played on Saturday at the Tournament of the Stars. But, considering they didn’t play a single Div. I World Cup team, the results were far from convincing. There was the snitch range game against East Lansing, Michigan State’s second team, which they took, 120*-70. 60 point quaffle margins against The Charles School and Mighty Bucks weren’t much better. They may have been lucky that a medical emergency and darkness cancelled a semifinal match with Ball State and a potential finals tilt with cross-state rivals Ohio State. But regardless, for a top 10 team nationally, it was an ominous start.

Verdict: Proper Reaction

First of all, we need to be realistic in how we assess this team. Last year, they were a Final Four team, but only by virtue of an unprecedented run through bracket play that easily could have ended on a snitch grab by David Moyer in the Round of 32, Harry Greenhouse in the Round of 16, or Steve DiCarlo in the quarterfinals. That’s not to say that they didn’t deserve to be there, simply that the valuation of them as a top four team is a bit high. And that would be if they were returning everyone as was expected.

Instead, some very big losses have this team headed for a potential tailspin. Of the team’s three male beaters that defined their dominant seeking game and stabilized the two female chaser set, Anthony DeCapite and Joe Pavlik are no longer with the team, while Chad Brown is out injured. Those are some big shoes to fill for a team that never had all that much depth to begin with, and serves as a worrisome sign for the team.

Am I saying you should count Bowling Green out? Of course not. Between Daniel Daugherty, Evan Adkins, Meredith Taylor, Katie Milligan and Samantha Elgin, the team still has more talent than most in the game. But not only do I doubt they are any longer a top 10 team, I also think they may no longer be the best team in Ohio.

 

“Florida’s Finest is a World Cup contender.”

After much talk about former Team USA member Sean Pagoada’s new project, Florida’s Finest, the quidditch community finally got its chance to see the team this past weekend. And play they did, taking down the Titan’s Fury on their very first weekend of competitive play. Pagoada did just about everything for his team, while Austin Clooney came through at seeker and multiple other players showed plenty of athletic talent. The Finest earned a win over Florida State in the semifinals, 120*-50, before taking down University of Florida, surprise winners over University of Miami, on a snitch grab, 80*-30.

Verdict: Overreaction

The south is, by all accounts, the weakest region in the country, with only Miami as a true contender this past season and no team advancing past the Round of 32. If you want to prove yourself in such a week talent pool, you need to do more than beat team that didn’t even make the World Cup last year on the snitch grab. With Miami down and Tennessee Tech, arguably the region’s next best team, off competing with the Midwest instead, Florida’s Finest might have to travel in order to prove themself to the rest of us.

The real storyline here may be the potential fall of the Hurricanes. After giving up just 70 points in eighth matches at the 2012-2013 Southern Regionals, any speed bump within region would raise eyebrows, never mind an actual loss.

 

Sean Pagoada, seen here scoring in the semifinals against Florida State, did just about everything for his team on their way to a statement tournament win. Credit: Florida's Finest

Sean Pagoada, seen here scoring in the semifinals against Florida State, did just about everything for his team on their way to a statement tournament win. Credit: Florida’s Finest

“Canada is lagging behind.”

The ever-mysterious McGill traveled down to Boston to test itself this past weekend, and the results were a mixed bag. After somewhat severe turnover, perhaps most notably the loss of Hugh Podmore, there were questions about whether enough talent remained in the program. Many even believed the University of Ottawa to be the best Canadian team at this point.

McGill did nothing to prove the critics wrong by falling behind a Tufts team in the second tier of Boston quidditch, 60-0. Though they did recover to win in overtime, things got even uglier in pool play, where Emerson was able to dominate, knocking out the Canadians, 120*-30

Verdict: Proper Reaction

Americans who traveled to Canada for the fantasy tournament, myself included, showed a style where the physicality was top class but the beater skill and strategy lagged behind. That sentiment is almost perfectly indicative of what McGill showed this past weekend. They hit hard, but the Boston teams now hit harder too, and the lesser beater play was costly time and again. They also appear to have less depth in their chaser lines than they once did.

This sets things up very interesting for this weekend’s tournament at Ottawa. Both the NYDC Capitalists and the hosts will be measured up against this McGill squad, and if the long-time Canadian elite were to take the tournament, one could argue that the abilities of both of the other two should be called into question.

 

McGill came up short in its biggest games at the MQC/SNEQC Invitational, calling into question the state of Canadian quidditch. Credit: Michael Mason/IQA Staff

McGill came up short in its biggest games at the MQC/SNEQC Invitational, calling into question the state of Canadian quidditch. Credit: Michael Mason/IQA Staff

“Something needs to be done about the officiating of snitch play.”

Alright, this one was me in an article a couple of weeks back. And I had the displeasure of experiencing it first hand while head refereeing the finals of the MQC/SNEQC Invitational between Emerson and Boston University. The match was exciting and hard-fought, and was always going to come down to a snitch grab. Unfortunately for everyone, it came down to a very controversial one.

Boston Univeristy’s seeker made a game-winning grab with the snitch on his feet and without a beater in the area. The snitch and snitch referee both saw it as a good catch. Emerson argued that the seeker was off his broom, and a single goal judge, the one on their side of the field, agreed with them.

In the end, I, with on personal information about the play, trusted the snitch and snitch referee. From what I’ve been told by neutral parties, it was indeed the wrong decision. A major tournament final was decided by an errant call that was arguably no one’s fault.

Verdict: Proper Reaction

Something needs to change, and it needs to change now. Otherwise, with referee numbers down and quality of play up, we are in for a very long season.

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