Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis


The second annual Flyin’ Lion’s Quidditch Quaich hosted by the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games will take place this weekend in Orlando, Florida.

This will be the last official tournament taking place in the Florida Quidditch Conference prior to the South Regional Championship and have seven out of the nine conference teams present. The format is round robin. Every team will play each other once, accounting for six games. Four games will be played on day one and two on day two before transitioning to a four-team, single-elimination bracket. 

The Oldest Rookies
Ringling College of Art and Design was the first Florida team to compete at a World Cup event and, in the older days, was led by the likes of Dan Miller and Bryan Bae. Their last regionals\ appearance was the season of World Cup VI. Since then, they have played one tournament last season and attended the first FLQ tournament of this season (unofficial). The majority of their roster is female, including what some would call the second strongest beater in the South in Ariel Jew. However, as Ringling has not been competitive in a long time, their goals as a team are somewhat unknown. The team has not shown cohesiveness or any sort of identity, and Jew is the only remnant of the more competitive Ringling team. With just one player that has shown passion for the game, I expect them to lose every match out of range.

The Dark Horse
Florida International University enters this tournament with a 1-4 record, that lone win being a shellacking of Florida Gulf Coast University at Canes Classic. Since that tournament, they’ve failed to bring more than eight players to a single event, resulting in a humiliating series of losses. At full strength, this team is capable of keeping the game in snitch range against the University of Florida Gators and University of Miami Hurricanes, but if their small-roster trend continues, then the FIU Panthers will have to fight tooth and nail not to get blown out. The Panthers opt to run a two-female beater set at times, letting the four-male offense take over. Defensively, they are not a physical bunch unless you run into one of them. They give too much room and allow for easy passing unless they are forced to tackle. Against inexperienced teams that only hero-ball, the Panthers will be more than fine, but against the experienced teams, they will be sliced like butter unless they step things up. Their performance will solely depend on the commitment of their players; if a full squad shows up to the tournament, I wouldn’t be surprised by a semi-final finish. An eight player squad, however, will lead to one win and a whole lot of losses.

.500
The University of South Florida Bulls come in with a record of 3-3. This team seems to have some of the better beaters in the region, but also some of the worse quaffle players. They also lack depth. At Renegade Cup, they comfortably beat University of Southern Mississippi on their first go. However, the second time around, they had to make a snitch grab to win. Their beaters—Austin Webster, Daniel Velazquez, Phillip Carrillo and Sarah Martin—have been playing at a pretty high level this season, but the team can’t seem to muster up any type offense. In games against the top Florida teams, they’ve held bludger control for the majority of time but put up only one or two goals. If captain and USF’s top scorer Baustin Archie can help this team put together a consistent offense, they should be able to make the Final Four. Otherwise, they will have to play stellar defense and try to keep the game in range, where they are 2-1 on the season in SWIM situations.

A Cloudy Night
RCQC is a Florida community team located in Orlando. Formerly known as Rollins College, they boast players from Rollins, Florida Atlantic University and Eastern Florida State College. They are currently 5-6 on the year and have yet to come out of a tournament with a winning record. Out of the upper half of Florida teams, they have the weakest beating and physicality. They have a tendency to struggle against opposing offenses, even with bludger control. While RCQC has shown great team play with good ball movement and support for one another, it lacks a true star to create mismatches. When facing a tight man-defense, it is very difficult for them to create any sort of offense.
In addition to all this, RCQC has also undergone a slight shift in their roster. They lost talented utility player Tyler Walker—who will be back at Ball State University for the spring—but added former Florida’s Finest keeper Mike Bourgault. Bourgault seems to fit into their system seamlessly and may turn out to be that star player the team is lacking. At Renegade Cup, he was their most consistent player with great passing, but was also able to drive the ball, which is where most of the team suffers.RCQC has kept close games with University of Florida but at this tournament, I don’t see a repeat performance. They will be battling with USF and FIU for the fourth spot in bracket play.

Homegrown
University of Florida has done very well for themselves this season, considering the unexpected re-building they’ve had to do. With a #18 USQ ranking and an 8-2 record (both losses coming against Florida’s Finest), they will look to make it clear that they’re deserving of the number two spot in the state. Star chaser Dre Clements has been alternating at keeper this season, playing a larger distributor role with more playing time than any previous season. Nick Zakoske and Kenny Stowe have anchored the team defensively and, with some long-range shooting, have become great threats on both sides of the ball. Jimmy Singer rounds out the fourth quaffle spot, bringing in some aggressive drives to the hoops whenever left in a no-bludger scenario.
They will be without veteran beaters Jared Gaum and Richard Crumrine, which leaves just about all first-year players at the position. Though most of these players lack high-end athleticism, putting tons of pressure on the team’s coaching, they’re proving that they will always be competing for the top of the region no matter who is on their roster that tournament.
The offense has evolved their pass-heavy approach from last season and have shown great chemistry. On the other side of the ball, all quaffle players have shown great deals of physicality to make up for their lackluster beaters. Chaser Tori Robbins will be playing in her second tournament this season after coming off of an injury. With her on the field, any team should think twice before doubling up on another player. Tatiana Luna is also in her second year and has stepped up this season after the leave of other female chasers. If Florida’s beaters can keep bludger control for 30-40% of the game (which is not asking for much), their offense should be able to take flight. I expect out-of-range games against most teams and a semifinal bout with Miami. Neither team has played the other in an official capacity this season, so we should get a nice preview before the regional championship.

DEFENSE!
University of Miami is regarded by every team in the state as either the number two or three team in the region, despite their lowly 3-4 record. They have three out-of-snitch-range wins against Austin Quidditch, FIU and USF; two out-of-range losses to Texas State University and Florida’s Finest; and two SWIM losses to Loyola University New Orleans. The Hurricanes will try to solidify this spring season with a more consistent showing. I wholly expect them to blow out every team, save UF and FF. While they’ve also had to rebuild after the loss of some of their best players, some trends have continued from last season. As with many top teams, when they have bludger control, they’re difficult to get points on. While not as deadly as before, they are still very good in transition offense. Their negative trends show through, however, in their mediocre one-bludger defense—unless the ball happens to be in the hands of Shannon Moorhead. Their half-court offense is also lacking, and if they’re not out and running, they’re not putting up goals. Their SWIM record continues to falter as their seeker contingency has yet to make a SWIM grab this season. On the upside, the Hurricanes are much more physical than last season, and I think they will only continue to improve.
They will be without their best female chaser, Bridgette Foster, this weekend but will have chaser/beater Elen Edelson, who was not there for most of the fall semester. During Wolf Pack Classic, they lost co-captain and keeper German Barrios due to a gruesome injury that left him in a wheelchair for a couple of months. While he is not playing for the rest of the season, he is back to walking and will be coaching them to provide the focus and guidance they need. If Miami can become a great team as opposed to great individuals, they should put away just about every team and edge out the Gators.

Flamingos Fly High
Florida’s Finest has taken the undisputed top spot in the region, only getting stronger after a solid performance last season. An 8-0 record, thus far, the Flamingos have shown great depth, along with talent and commitment. With players creating mismatches from top to bottom, the offensive explosiveness is non-stop from “brooms up!” to the snitch catch. Every lineup gives different looks and makes adjusting very difficult for opposing teams. On defense, the chasers pressure high up top while the beaters sit back and apply pressure around the hoops when necessary. They’re great in transition but can also slow the ball down and score with some sharp shooting and one-on-one drives. They will go undefeated on day one, and day two should have an even stronger showing for them considering the depth they boast. They will be without chasers Sean Snipes, Justin Tuimavana and Dominic Mack but will have their full beater lineup for the first time this season.

Final Predictions
UM gets the better of a slow start by UF in the round-robin matchup. With their first game of the day, USF gets a SWIM win against RCQC. After losing a long match to Miami, USF is not able to keep up with FIU and loses. FIU is tired on day two and carries a smaller roster; RCQC simply outlasts them. With RCQC showing the most consistent scoring of the three with 2-4 records, they make it into brackets due to the highest point differential.

Pool Play
Florida’s Finest 6-0
University of Miami 5-1
University of Florida 4-2
RCQC 2-4
Florida International University 2-4
University of South Florida 2-4
Ringling College of Art and Design 0-6


Bracket Play
Semifinals
Florida’s Finest over RCQC
UF over Miami

Finals
Florida’s Finest over UF







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