Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Credit: Shirley Lu

In addition to our preseason rankings, The Eighth Man staff will be releasing a series of articles focusing on the top 10 club teams and top 10 collegiate teams. 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. 

An Inability to Recover
By Ardin Lo, Editor, Social Media

UCLA has continually stood the test of time and has once again proven themselves to be a premier college program. However, coming into the year ranked at No. 5 in The Eighth Man Rankings will prove tough to live up to. Last year, UCLA made a magical run to the Elite Eight at USQ Cup 11, barely falling in overtime to University of Kansas. Much has changed since then.

That UCLA squad was anchored by their solid beating corps, of which they will be losing all of their female beaters in Dani Clarke, Vannica Phorn, Nika Bugrim and Ruby Dennis in addition to starting male beater Jacob Metevia. Clarke and Phorn were defensive stalwarts last year, both with excellent arm strength and positioning, but with them gone, UCLA will have to rely on their sole returning beater, Justin Van Ligten to carry the beater game. Van Ligten is aggressive but undersized, and will need serious support in the beater game if the Bruins hope to hang with other top college teams who are returning their beater cores including Texas State University, UC Berkeley (Cal Quidditch), Kansas and University of Maryland. Compounding this problem is UCLA’s lack of a seeker which will likely lead to continued snitch-on-pitch struggles. During the USQ Cup 11 season, the Bruins’ SWIM record was a lackluster 3-9, showing a lack of a true clutch seeker. UCLA used a rotation of captain Badal Chandra, Jacob Metevia and Charles Carvalho—all of whom have graduated—leaving a sizable hole in a position the Bruins weren’t strong to begin with. Now the Bruins are without a single player on the roster with previous seeking experience. The departure of five key beaters and every seeker is a recipe for failure in tight games.

However, things look more promising on the quaffle side for the Bruins with keepers Ryan Harris and Jonathan Rovetta packing a powerful one-two punch. Rovetta brings size and strength while Harris uses his agility and speed to attack defenders, but both will need wing chaser options other than MLQ West Division MVP Elizabeth Ng to space out the offense. In addition, senior chasers Christian Clarion and Kevin Gallagher will need to fill the role left behind by physical chasers Christian Krieger and Carvalho, who were the main sources of defense on this undersized UCLA squad.

UCLA will no doubt be a contender this year, and, if history repeats itself, they will recruit and reload as well as anyone in the nation. But this year, the holes left in the roster might just be too much to overcome.

Credit: Shirley Lu

Bruins Will Reload Once Again
By Ryan Pfenning, 
Assistant Editor, Rankings

Last season, UCLA was tasked with the challenge of replacing 17 seniors. While this would be difficult for any collegiate team, it is particularly hard on schools like UCLA that utilize the quarter system. However, UCLA has always had a stable B-team—the Wizards of Westwood—to pull from, in addition to a student population of 31,000. Last season’s leadership also put those new recruits in the best position to grow, playing 41 games last season—the most of any team in the nation.

Entering this season, UCLA will be missing their best beater—Jacob Metevia—and nearly all of their female beaters from the last rendition of the squad. They may start slow this fall as they train new recruits to fill these roles. However, last season, UCLA proved the challenge of recruiting and training new faces can’t stop them with their Elite-Eight, snitch-range finish at USQ Cup 11 against University of Kansas. It can be expected that they grow enough in size and strength to contend for a Final Four or finals appearance at USQ Cup 12.

UCLA has a strong enough quaffle game to stick with any other college team. Their two keepers, senior Ryan Harris and sophomore Jonathan Rovetta, provide contrasting looks on offense that will be used to matchup against the opposing team’s weaknesses. Harris’s speed and agility make him a great matchup for the bigger, slower defenses while Rovetta is willing to do the dirty work and drive through small to midsize defenders. Rovetta is still an unknown name in the quidditch community, but standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 215 pounds, his physical drives are near impossible to stop and his developing passing skills will lead the UCLA offense. Throw in the dynamic play of Christian Clarion and the Bruins have plenty of options to consistently run a dangerous offense. Rovetta and Clarion really stepped up last year in their first season on the A-team, and now they will enter this year with the experience necessary to take UCLA to the next level.

But what really pushes this team over the top? The versatility brought by Elizabeth Ng. Ng, the 2018 MLQ West Division MVP, can—and likely will—play keeper, chaser and seeker this season. At chaser, she is as physical as they come and her ability to make big stops on defense make her the most well-rounded female in the West. With her length, she is also an excellent seeker that will allow UCLA to run a double-male beater set with snitch on pitch while not sacrificing anything in the seeker game. If this team can recruit or convert a competent beater to fill the aforementioned gap, they can easily exceed expectations and push for a spot in the Final Four.

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