The Eighth Man

The Outsiders: Mid-Atlantic’s Oft-Overlooked

Credit: Rebecca Martin

Credit: Rebecca Martin

University of Virginia
The Wahoos are not used to the spotlight.

University of Virginia is used to cruising through the Mid-Atlantic under the radar. Winning when it is are supposed to and occasionally managing to pull together competitive outings with top teams in the region.

Coming off one of the most surprising Cinderella runs of World Cup 8, Virginia is going to have to get use to the spotlight and get use to it quickly.

Late in the 2014-15 season, Virginia played tightly-contested matchups against both UNC and University of Maryland at its home tournament, The Founder’s Cup, and once the Wahoos proved their worth at World Cup with a Sweet 16 finish, they made their presence in the league well known.

With UNC and Maryland each losing a plethora of key contributors to graduation, Virginia has a chance, for the first time in its history, to step up and potentially take the reigns as a regional powerhouse. But it will not come without its growing pains.

The current Virginia roster has become accustomed to the coaching of chaser Kyle Stolcenberg, who graduated in May. While the team is in the capable hands of keeper Erik Morlock, the Wahoos lack of Stolcenberg could lead to a less-than-ideal seasonal start for Virginia.

Along with the loss of Stolcenberg, the team will spend the fall without both of its starting beaters from the previous season. Anna Leonard graduated with Stolcenberg in May, and Brian Stanley is taking time away from the team for undisclosed reasons.

Stanley proved to be clutch for Virginia last season, particularly in the spring when he was used in a dual-male beating set alongside Devon Rea. Putting the pair in the game and attacking defenses with an aggressive, offensive beating strategy, the typically-underwhelming Virginia offense was able to string together runs to stay in games against higher-caliber opponents.

Morlock believes Brett Curtis should be able to step into Stanley’s role in the dual-male pair when the Wahoos need an offensive spark this season. He added that the strategy behind Virginia’s unorthodox zone defense makes its beaters fairly interchangeable.

Credit: Rebecca Martin

Credit: Rebecca Martin

Penn State University
Last year the Nittany Lions showed glimpses of regional greatness.

Without starting beater Scott Axel, Penn State University played Maryland, the eventual regional champion, to a snitch-range game at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. In the spring, with Axel back in the lineup, Penn State stole a game against the regional runner-up UNC at Founder’s Cup in March.

And this year, the Nittany Lions will return nearly everything they need to succeed.

In a sport where graduating a captain or president can be the difference between a program being a contender and barely managing to exist, the Penn State maintained all of the cogs to its team, most notably Axel and quaffle carrier Rob Myers.

Though it is losing starting beater Becky McAlary to graduation, she typically reaped the benefits of Axel’s aggressive play, and, under his tutelage, a serviceable replacement should be obtainable.

What is more concerning for a team poised to make waves this season is that it will have to play the fall without former captain and seeker Collin Leese-Thompson. The team hopes to fill this void with a committee of seekers.

Whether or not Penn State can take out the likes of back-to-back defending regional champ Maryland is to be seen, but, without a doubt, the Nittany Lion’s strong core of returners and veteran player makers will make them strong contenders in the Mid-Atlantic.

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