The Most Underrated Volunteer in USQ History


Flight D, Round One: Duke Grabs an Upset
By Rick Wasser

Michigan 170 * – UNC 10
UTSA 210 * – Minnesota 20
Texas A&M 150 * – BGSU 20
Duke 100 *^ – Ball State 70

With a workman-like effort, the No. 1 seed–University of Michigan–was able to rest their first line after putting up a quick 40-0 lead on five possessions. The score stood 110-0 after the 18-minute mark, with Michigan holding both bludgers on offense. Zeke Majeske only needed one shift at seeker to catch. With the UNC seeker defending and their lone bludger neutralized on offense by Michigan, just three possessions passed with a goal on each before the grab.

Meanwhile, the Southwest regional champions were able to walk through their first game of the weekend against a former Midwest/Great Lakes powerhouse hoping to make waves once again. UTSA made quick work of the University of Minnesota, keeping their starters in until the game hit 90-10, with only a quick rest granted. Their no-nonsense attitude proved worthwhile, as UTSA seeker Javien Stewart got great reps at seeker in a low-pressure situation to hone his craft further for the rest of the weekend’s challenges. Ultimately, the Roadrunners weren’t phased at all in this match and had a great chance to shake the rust off.

From the draw, it seemed Texas A&M University was poised to make an upset in this “pool of death,” and their easy handling of Great Lakes semi-finalist BGSU proved A&M’s metal early on. While they didn’t have as easy a path as Michigan and UTSA, the Aggies were able to break into BGSU’s defense slowly but surely to get out of range by 80, conceding once and then scoring three unanswered goals in snitch-on-pitch play. It remains to be seen where the Aggies stand amongst the upper echelon of their flight, but one thing seems certain now: they won’t be caught flat-footed.

An upset was bound to happen in this group, but odds were–not like this! Over on pitch three, with two catches within 75 seconds of snitch release, Duke University–the Mid-Atlantic sleeper from Tobacco Road–caught perennial Great Lakes contender and former USQ Semi-finalist Ball State University unaware and stole a much-needed win. Duke surely hopes to walk out of this overtime victory carrying their seeker’s hot hand into what will surely be their best national showing in program history. With this loss handed to them, the Cardinals will have to steal at least one game from Michigan, UTSA or A&M to even have a hope of dressing for Sunday’s bracket. However, with two USNT seekers and one beater in their hall of fame, Ball State certainly has a history of talent development deep enough to pull themselves out of this hole.

 

Flight E, Round 1: Business as Usual
By Ethan Sturm

New York 210* – SIUE 30
RPI 110* – Florida State 10
Irvine 190* – Rutgers 40
Cal 110* – Pitt 30

In a first round otherwise full of close matches, Flight E delivered us a heaping helping of chalk to kick things off. The higher-seeded team won each of the four matchups, and none ended in snitch range. Our analysts predicted this to be the most top-heavy flight in the tournament, and it has delivered so far, setting up some exciting round two matchups amongst the top four.

New York University had no trouble putting away SIUE, with the high-press defensive set that earned them a regional championship once again paying dividends. The SIUE beaters had no answer for Antoine Giron, who created turnovers at will, allowing Frank Minson to fast break and put up a lot of points in a hurry. New York also benefited from the return of seeker Kellan Cupid and keeper Seamus Slade, both of whom studied abroad for the spring semester before returning for this tournament.

RPI, similarly, took care of business, using a hard-hitting, physical approach to keep Florida State University almost completely off the scoreboard. RPI beaters Fiona Wisehart and Carson Olazaba were unassailable, maintaining bludger control throughout to further strengthen the defense. But, once again, RPI struggled to run up the score on offense, a shortcoming that has plagued them much of the season. Whether it will cause issues going forward in this flight remains to be seen.

“I’m super proud of my team and how we played in our first game of the day,” Wisehart said. “We’re looking forward to winning our next three.”

Despite some pre-tournament concern about UC Irvine’s ability to handle a 2-2 zone after having not seen one all season, the Anteaters ran up the score on Rutgers University in their opening game. However, with many of the goals coming in transition, it remains to be seen how the team can operate against such defensive sets when the opposing beaters can effectively match up with Kobe Kendall. Daniel Belton provided much of the firepower, notching eight goals in the victory.

Of the top four seeds, UC Berkeley had the shakiest start to the morning, but still managed to finish things out with a convincing win. Perhaps it was the jetlag of cross-country travel or the time difference, but last year’s finalist could do no better than to trade goals with a stout University of Pittsburgh team early on. But a 40-0 run in the minutes before the snitch arrived was enough to give the Bears some breathing room, and a quick catch got them through to the next round unscathed.

 

Flight F, Round 1: Bearkat, Slayer of Dragons
By Tad Walters

Tufts 190* – South Carolina 10
Virginia 150* – Ohio 30
Kansas 150* – Vermont 40
Sam Houston 100* – Illinois 80

Flight F went on as expected, with warm-up games for Tufts University, University of Virginia and University of Kansas. Despite being lower-seeded, Sam Houston was originally favored in their match-up against the Midwest’s University of Illinois. Bearkat seeker Hayden Boyes pulled off the catch despite being down 10 points in the quaffle game to Illinois.

“Look we’ve played, I think, 8 of our 18 games in range. Staying in range of a strong team like Sam Houston shows that we’re still trending upwards,” said Illini Coach Harold Advincula.

A low-scoring affair, both Sam Houston and Illini got off to slow offensive starts. Thomas Morgan and Kenan Nash anchored the Bearkat defense in the quaffle game while Tyler Piper’s defensive intensity paired with the beater duo of John Crispo and Niya Mitchell forced several Sam Houston turnovers. Snitch on pitch was, however, a one-sided event with Kat Hayworth and Baldemar Nunez dominating the Illini rotation until Boyes sealed the deal.

Elsewhere in Flight F, Kansas came away with a smooth out-of-range victory against the University of Vermont. Kansas has been said to be in a “low year” this season, but looked very disciplined and dominant in every aspect of the game.

“The game plan was to focus on passing and working the ball around to take good shots and easy drives. We wanted to conserve our beaters’ energy as much as possible and were looking to make big hits early on to scare them out of the paint,” said Kansas Captain Mike Devine. “Rachel England was the best beater on the pitch. Ian McCabe and Brian McClannahan ran the offense to perfection and McCabe made stops on the defensive end.”

Lastly, Tufts and Virginia took care of the University South Carolina and Ohio University, respectively, in blowout games, with Tufts almost breaking the 200-point mark. Both teams showed defensive poise and offensive aggression which carried them to such large margins over the albeit lower-seeded teams.

“Tufts has a nasty history of coming out flat during a big tournament regardless of who we play,” said Tufts Captain Finn McGarghan. “We wanted to start with the top line and go up quickly in the first five or 10 minutes. We were out of range way before seeker floor and played our depth. The goal this game was to get the top line warmed up and get the whole roster on the field.”







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