The Eighth Man

Will They or Won’t They: Emerson College, #10

In addition to our preseason rankings, The Eighth Man staff will be releasing a series of articles focusing on the top 20 teams, counting down from 20 to one. Each article will be written by two members of the staff, one who believes the team will live up to or exceed expectations and one who thinks they will come up short. 


EMERSON COLLEGE WILL HAVE A GREAT FALL
By Ricky Nelson

Emerson College is known for two things: a solid beater corps and large keepers. The team we know has built a strategy that works with these elements. The beaters are able to maintain control and, in so doing, provide their large keepers, David Fox and Tyler Trudeau, with the opportunity to barrel through the defense and deliver hoop-shattering dunks. Impressive, but all it takes is one chaser capable of stopping them, and there is a whole league full of them. The occasional pass sneaks in, but there is a reason people hardly talk about their chasers, despite how good some of them are when given the chance.

Emerson has gotten too comfortable with the status quo. Unfortunately for them, the status quo is changing. They are losing the key to their strategy as, arguably, their two best beaters, Aaron Wohl and CJ Junior, have graduated. Without strong beater pairs capable of maintaining control, the Emerson squad will be running into bludger control often, which turns those hulking keepers into the broadside of a barn.

Not only is their quaffle game going to take a hit from losing beaters, but their snitch game will as well. Each of Emerson’s most notable wins had been within snitch range, such as their wins over University of Maryland at Turtle Cup and Boston University at World Cup VII. A team dependent on their snitch game is respectable, but those teams rely on a solid defense both against the quaffle to keep it in range and the seeker to end it. The loss of the aforementioned beaters will keep them out of the running in those games.

Getting new recruits should be easy for Emerson, while other teams struggle not to be laughed at, with Emerson, we regularly hear of their huge house league that, if the internet is to be believed, includes 10% of all Emerson students. With numbers like that, this should be a team top to bottom of top athletes. Instead, we have been treated time and again to top-heavy rosters that tell us either there are almost no athletes going to this Bostonian liberal arts school—actually not a stretch for a liberal arts school—or, my greater fear, that people simply do not want to be on the team. I will not speculate too much into the team chemistry, but the fact is, Emerson did see several valuable players up and quit for QC Boston: Massacre at the beginning of last season while still enrolled at Emerson. Something is up.

Even if they could take best advantage of that pool of players, beating is the most experience-dependent position and takes more time to train up the truly elite players they need to replace their losses. Losing some of your best beaters not only hurts your current team, but hobbles your ability to teach the fresh meat.

The best thing that Emerson has had going for it, the thing that made up for all the English major career jokes, was that they had elite competition easily accessible and a rivalry with the region’s champ, Boston University. That team is gone with all its great beaters. In its place we have a squad never given the chance to really shine.

Tufts University can still give Emerson a go, but the Tufflepuffs also just lost their best beater and has never been a team Emerson needed to strive to be better for. One would wonder where all the great beaters are that Emerson will need to practice against. Oh, of course they are likely going to be on Massacre, a team with which Emerson has bad blood after the aforementioned player snagging. Emerson will need to swallow its pride and get as many scrimmages it can against those beaters if it wants to learn how to play in this new Boston.

With the pieces they have lost, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put Emerson together again. So this one-trick pony will have to change instead, but let us call it a rebuilding year and be done with it. It saves them the pressure of high expectations and us the disappointment of calling it wrong. Unless they pull an easy draw for the Round of 32 at World Cup, Emerson will not see the Sweet 16.


CONTENDER FOR THE CROWN
By Ethan Sturm

Many of us will never know the joys of a quidditch program that is engrained into the very fabric of our school, a kind of place where 4,000 students can maintain a massive house league that draws 200-to-300 players every year, providing a constant reservoir of talent for the tournament team, no matter how much turnover there was that season.

But at Emerson College, that is the reality they have been living going as far back as World Cup III. Between the losses to graduation and the in-fighting with Q.C. Boston: Massacre, last year was supposed to be a down year for Emerson. Instead, they made the Final Four at World Cup VII. When you have access to basically every student on campus, that is what happens.

So sure, Emerson lost their best two male beaters from last season. But their replacements have spent years developing in the team’s system and will get to skip the road bumps a new beater for an elite team would normally have to contend with. And sure, they will miss the athletic contributions of Jackson Maher and Max Blaushild, but there are always new athletes flooding in. Keep in mind, this is the program that managed to produce David Fox one year and Victor Viega the next.

One of the biggest edges Emerson will have this year is that it boasts the deepest crop of female players in the region. At chaser, Maggie Noren was a breakout scorer in her first season and will only improve with more experience, while Capri  DeBiccari can make a substantial impact on both sides of the ball. At beater, their male losses will be made up for by the continued presences of Paulina Pascual and Leeanne Dillmann, the latter of whom will quietly take her place on the throne as the Northeast’s best female beater with Katrina Bossotti gone.

Along with their female counterpart Noren, the new season will also be a breakout opportunity for chasers Lyle Thomes and Eli Page. Thomes was often buried in the team’s depth chart last season, but his cuts and ability to get his hands on just about any pass make him a valuable offensive spark plug for the team. And while Page showed his skills as a point defender in his first season, his offensive play continues to develop, and he will be a more complete player in the new year.

This is all before mentioning the backbone of this team, keepers Fox and Tyler Trudeau. Trudeau has quietly developed in Fox’s shadow but after an impressive performance last season, seems primed to be a breakout star, with the ability to drive and dish with equal levels of comfort. Meanwhile, Fox will continue to pound his way through meek, Northeast defenses, keeping any hopes of an upset over Emerson slim at best.

But ironically enough, the reason they have a real shot at a Northeast Regional Championship crown this year is the single thing that held them back for much of last season: seeking. During the squad’s run to the semifinals of World Cup, Nathaniel Charles quietly established himself as a true number-one seeker for the squad. If he can keep that up entering the new season, Emerson will boast a clear edge over all of its Boston brethren, an invaluable trump card in any close game.

While many people may not have noticed, the city of Boston is currently down across the board entering the 2014-15 season. Boston University lost its entire core, Tufts University lost its most valuable players, Emerson is down its two best beaters, and Massacre is still trying to figure out how to fill out a full roster.

But it is likely that the city still has the talent to dominate its region, and if you had to put a bet on one of these teams to bounce back, why would it not be Emerson? When you are a perennial top-10 program that has proven you can refill the coffers time and again, why would you think this year would be any different?

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