The Eighth Man

Part I

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Rock Hill Roll Call is your in-depth guide to the 80 teams that will compete for the title of World Cup 8 Champion. We’ve reached out to writers and analysts all over the country to bring you the lineups, strategies, focal points and aspirations of each and every attending team. Whether you are looking for a leg up on the competition or just want a detailed preview of the sport’s main event, this is the place for you.

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XfactorFinalBy Max Miceli
University of Maryland rolls deep and the team is its strongest at chaser and seeker. On the whole, the Terrapins are one of the most disciplined teams in the nation. What will make or break this team is its beating. With starters Isabella Newton and Jeremy Dehn, the team is not in incompetent hands but, using a point-beater strategy that puts extra emphasis on strong beating, Maryland has run into trouble against teams with calculated and aggressive counter beating.

With a loss to Tufts University in October, it seemed like a code had been cracked in the Terrapin defense. Using similar strategic approaches as Tufts in the beating game and defensively, UNC and Capital Madness each gave Maryland a tough outing at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in November. Though Maryland won both matches and went undefeated, they needed a snitch grab against Madness (a team not even in the Top 20) and overtime against UNC (a team they beat out of range earlier in the season) to do so.

At this point, Maryland has heard the criticism. They are not dumb or lazy. It shouldn’t be a surprise if they roll out a different scheme against teams at World Cup to mix things up. Their roster is filled with veteran players who shouldn’t have much difficulty thriving in a different scheme depending on the matchups they draw. They know that in order to reach the promised land, they will need to be able to not only beat, but put away teams like Madness in Rock Hill. 

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By Anonymous
This may or may not have already been mentioned by the X-Factor author, but this team rolls deep. That cannot be emphasized enough. Maryland’s biggest asset is the fact that no one player is leaps and bounds better than all the others, and each player can hold his or her own. Maryland has a lot of weapons who can all score a number of different ways, but that isn’t even what makes them so lethal. It is the fact that they actually utilize all of their weapons. If you leave someone open, they will score—it is that simple.

UMD

The Terrapins are not looking to gash you with drives because they don’t need to. They prefer to play with a point chaser who acts as an assist man, finding players open off sharply-timed cuts and
off-ball picks. The first key to stopping this sort of attack is to play defense that is as disciplined as their offense. Whether you try to approach Maryland with a man or zone defense, the only
way you are going to stop them is with strong communication and field awareness by every
player on the field. The moment one of your
players turn their head, a chaser will be open, and he or she will score. This is made no more apparent than whenever you watch any game film of the Terrapins attack that has no true, leading scorer. Unlike many teams that have one or two big threats, Maryland just finds the open chaser.

 UMDBW

 


Nova


Enemy-Lines1By Anonymous
Villanova Community Quidditch is a well-rounded quidditch team with experienced and adept players in each position. There are a few elements that ensure the team’s consistency of remaining solid. 

First, Villanova employs a moderately conservative defensive beating strategy, relying on the discipline and decision-making of Anthony Cerone and Matthew Barrett. Veterans of countless high-stakes games, Cerone and Barrett often rise to the level of their opponents.

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Second, Villanova’s chasers prefer to play as a team, moving the ball unselfishly and involving multiple valuable pieces, instead of hero-balling whenever the moment arises. Primary ball handler Greg Habeeb, an underrated defensive shot-blocker, exemplifies Villanova’s pass-first
mentality and sets the tone for Villanova’s offense early in the game. While Habeeb can use his wing chasers effectively to force reactions and rotations from the defense, more driving and penetration would greatly enhance Villanova’s offensive capabilities.

Veteran female chaser Julia Fillman provides perhaps Villanova’s most dangerous off-ball option. Although she can be a lethal scorer, Fillman often positions herself deep behind the hoops, hauls in tough passes and focuses on picking out the final pass and assisting goals. Speedy chaser Khalil Taylor is yet another weapon for Villanova and will return as a fast-break threat after missing several key tournaments this past Fall. Physical point defender Joe Manion appeared more consistently for Villanova in the Fall and has improved rapidly as an on-ball offensive distributor. Supported by Cerone and Barrett, Villanova’s chasers play scrappy defense, roughing up assignments in man-to-man defense and hustling for loose balls.

Finally, Dan Takaki’s seeking remains vital for Villanova’s chances at World Cup VIII. Takaki, who plans to retire at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, will need to use his strength and impeccable instincts to overcome the challenge of a disadvantageous World Cup format. 

XfactorFinalBy Jack McGovern
While its gritty chaser defense and conservative beating has the potential to lock all windows and doors, Villanova’s offense frequently stagnates, leading to anxious, low-scoring, snitch-range matches against inferior squads. Avoiding costly upsets to George Mason University and University of Virginia and energizing an idling offense begins with smarter play from Villanova’s ball handlers. Too often, Villanova’s experienced and athletic point chasers seem hesitant to challenge opposing chaser defenses and content to pass the quaffle around midfield. Without penetration to put a team on the defensive, a well-trained defense can amp up the pressure, forcing turnovers and further reducing the likelihood of coherent offensive play from Villanova.

Although no one expects Habeeb to turn into Eric Reyes or Brad Armentor, simply taking the initiative and playing attack-minded quidditch could open a world of opportunities for the former Mid-Atlantic Regional champions. Aggressive driving from Villanova ball handlers will prompt difficult decisions for opposing beaters, which will present chances for mid-range shots and alleviate Fillman from tight man-to-man coverage. With dynamic offensive strategy, Villanova has the talent to keep opposing defenses guessing and utilize its adept passing abilities more productively with an array of alley-oops and assists. 

From a historical perspective, World Cup VIII may be the moment of truth for Villanova’s storied and successful quidditch program. Absorbing current attack-minded offensive strategy from teams like New York University and Lone Star Quidditch Club has the potential to rejuvenate Villanova’s declining program.

 Villanova


Emerson


XfactorFinalBy Ethan Sturm
In a city full of elite talent at male beater, John General has largely flown under the radar in his first year with Emerson College. With a background in football and rugby, the freshman’s physicality has been a wake-up call for many beaters in both Boston and the region at-large. The argument can definitely be made that no one in the country is better prepared for the physicality of the Southwest beater game than General.

That is even more important when you consider the team’s World Cup-semifinals loss last season, a game in which Texas State University’s Ryan Peavler dominated the Emerson beaters physically in perhaps the most impressive game of his career. But with General, Emerson has a counter that no Northeast team has ever had before.

Unfortunately, that physicality has–perhaps unfairly–come with a stigma for dirty play. Teams have gone to referees about him on multiple occasions, and just a little extra attention can lead to fouls on those hard-hitting tackles, even ones that are legal by the books.

General hasn’t done enough to dispel this reputation either, often giving off an impression of something of a loose cannon. While the stories surrounding the incident remain blurry, many have said that it was actually General’s behavior on Saturday of the Northeast Regional Championship that drew the tournament leadership’s attention. General’s actions beyond that which all helped add up to teammates Jake Hines’ ejection from the tournament before the quarterfinals.

Emerson is not the deep team they have been in years past. Moving David Fox to chaser has shown that the team is readily throwing all of its eggs into its first-line play and, because of that, it’s absolutely imperative that that line stays on the field and in the tournament. While card accumulation has been a problem up-and-down the roster, no one is as much of a wildcard as General. Whether he gives the school its best chance at taking down a major Southwest program in years or leaves his team playing a man-down in a must-win game, is a question that no one can answer quite yet.

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By Anonymous
In many ways, this is not the team that went to the Final Four at World Cup VII. The zone that defined them last season has largely been replaced by a more conventional man scheme and being of team of all defensive trades has made them masters of none of them.

Without the beater speed of CJ Junior and Aaron Wohl, their zone defense, when utilized, has holes in it that weren’t there last year. There’s time to move the ball around the perimeter before finding an incisive pass that the Emerson beaters can’t get to on time. You can also attack it with two quaffle players at the top, which was more difficult in the past.

EmersonLWhen in man, the point defender often sits too high, as though he was playing in the team’s old zone, allowing for free tap beats for the opposing beater. This is valuable, as Fox and Dom Bailey are two of the better point defenders in the region, and neutralizing them creates an opportunity. You can take advantage of this for easy drive-and-kick plays or, simply, to drive close enough to get off a mid-range shot.

Offensively, this team now runs best with Tyler Trudeau ball-handling with Fox even with him at the top of the offense. Against this look, you absolutely have to take away the passing option to Fox, even if it feels like an overextension of the defense. Leaving him a little space leads to passes that switch the field, opening up driving space and putting your beaters out of position.

Beyond that pass, Emerson will generally be looking to either drive, shoot or make a single pass to a female chaser. With Maggie Noren unlikely to return in the spring, their biggest threat at the position is gone, but it’s still something for a keeper to keep his eyes on.

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Graphics by Amanda Dallas. Feature photo illustration by Mike Iadevaia.

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