The Eighth Man

Indy Attempts to Sweep the North

The MLQ north’s season opens at the close for the Rochester Whiteout and Indianapolis Intensity. Despite somewhat low initial expectations, Indianapolis (5-1) looks to clinch the North Division this weekend with a win over Rochester (0-0).

Opening Thoughts
Indianapolis can attribute some of its success thus far to an advantage in pre-existing chemistry over opposing MLQ teams, and the fact that it has already played six games and had an opportunity to further develop its cohesion. Rochester on the other hand has yet to play a game and will need to prove that its players can work together under pressure. It will help Rochester that a substantial portion of its roster has played together already with the University of Rochester, but the Whiteout will still need to work hard to develop proper chemistry and function as something greater than the sum of its parts.

The ability of the beaters to control the pace of the games will be incredibly important in this series. Indianapolis’ beaters have done a phenomenal job thus far in controlling the field and pace of play, particularly with snitch on pitch. On the other hand, Rochester is likely to come into the series with relatively strong pre-existing beater synergy, and a good deal of experience playing against aggressive beaters. The absence of Josh Kramer from the beater game will be painful though, forcing Rochester captain Patrick Callanan to beat almost exclusively, as well as putting more weight on the shoulders of Alexander Venuti, a highly capable beater, but one who has not played since the fall.

In many senses, it could be said that time might work against Indy in this series. Indianapolis is carrying only seventeen players on its roster, and the depth of the squad is already perhaps less than that of divisional rivals. Equally important, Rochester is likely to settle down from any inconsistency and gain cohesiveness as the day progresses. Last week, we saw Indianapolis win two snitch-range games and then lose the third game out of range. Indianapolis will have to work hard to try to avoid such a decline in the latter portion of the series. In terms of depth, the Intensity may not be quite as disadvantaged as it appears. Rochester has a full 21 on its roster, but of those 21 are Solomon Gorminiak and Sam Burnside, who are new to quidditch, having no experience prior to MLQ, while six additional players have not played an official game since the fall. Rochester will need remove its rust quickly if it seeks to block Indy’s attempts to clinch the division.

Key Player: Tyler Walker, Beater, Indianapolis Intensity
Tyler Walker has been a key player for Indianapolis both on the field and strategically as captain. He has exerted his will over the pitch, creating space for his chasers, and frequently drawing opposing beaters out of position and creating lanes for scoring opportunities. Furthermore, his seeker beating has helped Indy’s seeker committee to run up a strong 5-0 record in snitch-range games.

Against Rochester he will be tasked with generating offensive opportunities for his team, while at the same time being careful to avoid getting caught out of position and giving Rochester transitional opportunities. If the game is in snitch range, his play will likely be one of the largest factors in determining which team comes up with the snitch.

Rochester wins if: The team can find its footing on offense and efficiently utilize its superior quaffle players. Rochester really wants to achieve parity in the beater game as well, but it might not be necessary. (The University of Rochester led University of Maryland 70-60 before the snitch pull in a game where it held bludger control only 15.4% of the time at World Cup 8).

Indianapolis wins if: The team can achieve a substantial advantage in the beating game to keep the game within range and give them an opportunity to pull the snitch, preferably quickly. If beaters are overly distracted by the snitch and there are a number of bludgerless opportunities for both teams, it will likely favor Rochester.

Final Prediction: Rochester, 2-1
Rochester has the raw talent to compete at least evenly at every position, and has a considerably stronger quaffle game. That said, the Whiteout will have to find cohesion and get rid of its rust going into its first series, and there will certainly be mistakes.

Devin Sandon contributed reporting.

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