The Eighth Man

The Boys and Girls of Summer: Jayke Archibald

Three months ago, Jayke Archibald had never been the star of a quidditch team.

Despite the flare and panache he displays on the pitch, he had always played second fiddle. Archibald started his career as a snitch, donning the yellow shorts for the first Empire Classic–that season’s Northeast Regional Championship–in May 2011. He played his first season of quidditch at Hofstra University under Steve DiCarlo in his Golden Snitchy prime, and then captained a squad the following year that lived or died by the beater play of Alex Leitch. He graduated at the end of that season and went on to play for QC Boston: the Massacre, led by now two-time Global Games star Kedzie Teller.

Perhaps due to never breaking out as a big name in the sport, or maybe because his game simply had not fully developed, Archibald’s play was often seen as style lacking substance. When Massacre went 1-3 at World Cup VII, crashing out with a loss to Rochester Institute of Technology in the first round of bracket play, it did not help in dispelling that belief.

But then a funny thing happened on the way to the fantasy season, and, ironically enough, it happened while playing with his old Hofstra teammates. In May, Archibald joined a team of Hofstra alumni and current players for the Natty Boh Brawl, an all-merc team tournament hosted by the University of Maryland. The team was stocked with talent, including Archibald, former NYDC Capitalists chaser Tim Keaney and current Hofstra star keeper Jaime Colon headlining the quaffle play.

When Colon went down with an injury halfway through the day, two important things happened: Archibald was finally the unquestioned star of a team, and he had to don the green headband. It may sound like a clichéd sports flick, but suddenly the team did a complete 180. Archibald racked up points–both with his own shots and with pinpoint passes to Keaney–which,with the help of a few Freddy Varone snitch grabs, knocked off two heavily-favored opponents in a row in the semifinals and finals to win an unexpected tournament crown.

That tournament would be Archibald’s only tournament win of the summer, but it was a springboard for his play throughout the fantasy season. At West Fantasy, he got dealt the difficult hand of going for 250 galleons, and then had to contend with even more adversity when teammate and Lost Boy Vanessa Goh went down with an injury. Despite that added stress put on his back, his performance earned him tournament MVP considerations, even with the team going 1-4 that weekend.

Next up was Champagne Cup where Archibald, teamed up with University of North Carolina’s Max Miceli and Keaney, put together an undefeated run all the way to the semifinals, ending with a pair of snitch grabs that led to a heartbreaking overtime loss.

But perhaps no tournament was as much a showcase for the rising star as Northeast Fantasy. Once again teamed up with Keaney, as well as former Maryland and now Capital Madness chaser Samantha Medney, Macaulay Honor College’s Andrew Zagelbaum and a stable of talented beaters, Archibald displayed all of the skills he had honed over the entirety of the summer. His passing and shooting were elite, his drives were difficult to stop and he was a wall when defending his hoops. In the finals, he basically went one-on-one with University of Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse for 18 minutes and came off no worse for wear. While it was Greenhouse who walked away with the snitch grab and the tournament win, it was Archibald that had raised eyebrows.

So what is it that makes Archibald such a dangerous player? On offense, he is a primary ball handler capable of accurate, quick passing from almost any distance. He also has one of the most graceful long shots in the sport and, with a Baden, is just about automatic from anywhere in his opponent’s half of the field. He is quick enough to drive into an opposing team, and his long arms make it difficult to both wrap him up and prevent him from getting a shot or pass off.

While the offensive production has been impressive, his defensive keeping has been even more so. It could definitely be argued that he is the best stay-at-home defensive keeper in quidditch, regularly plucking passes out of the air or diving to knock a shot away from a hoop with his long arms. With Archibald guarding the hoops the only way you are scoring is on a drive, and if the rest of his defense is aware of this, fact scoring becomes incredibly difficult.

On top of all of this, his value this summer has been largely defined by the fact that he never needs to come out of a game. Just as a quarterback has increased value if he can consistently stay healthy, Archibald has increased value because he is an elite keeper for the entire game.

The fantasy season has come and gone, and reality will hit hard as the new season begins. In September, Archibald will take over as co-captain of Massacre with Teller and try to fix the many internal issues that plagued the team in its inaugural season. He will likely become the team’s starting keeper and primary ball-handler, two positions that greatly need improvement.

But while the details remain hazy, one thing is clear: Jayke Archibald is a star.

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