Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Credit: Nikki Smith

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. 

Chill Out
By David Hoops, Correspondent

The Bosnyan Bearsharks have spent two straight seasons laying relatively low for the regular season, waiting until the national championship to play to their full potential. Two straight final four appearances is nothing to take lightly, even for a team that prides itself on the chillest vibes this side of the 2016 MLQ Championship rain delay, and our rankers this season are no longer fooled. It shouldn’t be difficult to see why a team with their level of success would live up to a top-three ranking. This season though, the chill vibes may not be able to overcome some notable cracks in the armor.  

New additions Basem Ashkar, David Stack, Justin Cole and Perry Wang would be seen as big pickups for most club teams. However, the Bearsharks fail more often than not to play into their deptheven keeping their first line in the majority of games against significantly weaker opponents. This misuse of depth, in addition to the lack of practices and playing many regular-season tournaments split, has led to a decline in the skill of the front line’s subs. A testament to this would be Carli Haggerty. While USNT athlete Julia Baer remains one of the deadliest non-males in the game on offense, overuse of Baer has led to a decline in Haggerty’s game. Haggerty is still one of the better options in the sport, but she has fallen from being arguably a top-five weapon thanks to a lack of playing time.

Yet another arena in which misuse of depth can be seen is at beater. USNT alternate Leeanne Dillmann is notorious for playing without substitution and her latest partner, Mario Nasta, is equally as unlikely to sub out in a game. Dillmann seems less phased by marathon games but Nasta does not have the same level of endurance and grows visibly exhausted as the clock ticks. Behind them are highly-capable individuals such as C.J. Junior and Mike Iadevaia—and now Wang—but it remains to be seen if they’ll ever put up the minutes they truly deserve.

The team does retain the majority of its starting line, but there are a few fundamental changes. A slimmed-down Tyler Trudeau can no longer barrel down the field dragging his opponents in his wake. His shot may still be on-point and closing out a game against the majority of snitches is no sweat off his back—as demonstrated by his USNT performance. But his new lack of size makes him more susceptible to some of the point defenders and more physical keepers in our top 10. J.C. Arencibia would have compensated for this, as he is still sizable enough to do what Trudeau was formerly known for. Unfortunately, he’s moved to The Warriors along with starting Bosnyan seeker Eric Pagoada. If the Bearsharks opt to dip into the depth chart, Ashkar could fill this untacklable role. However, the lack of practices and minimal tournament attendance one would expect from the Rochester-based player may lead to Ashkar playing hero ball during the minutes he does see the pitch—a game that doesn’t work anymore against elite teams.

All that said, the biggest loss for the Bearsharks entering the 2018-19 season is a missing piece of that aforementioned starting line: Teddy Costa. Most of the Bearshark attack was predicated on a relatively standard game plan in Northeast quidditchhave the beaters clear a driving lane that someone hard to tackle (Trudeau) bulldozed through. Where most teams with that game plan get stuck is when defenses load up on size and can handle that tackle one-on-one, which is where Costa could show his true value. One of the rare undersized chasers with elite driving ability based on speed, Costa kept defenses honest with their personnel choice. You couldn’t load up with pure size with Costa burning around the edges, but that may no longer be the case.

To add to the loss of a brute of a point defender in Costa, he also gave the Bearsharks a rare trio in the seeking game. Pagoada was the first option to get the ball rolling, Trudeau was tossed in when more size was needed and Costa could handle any snitch that required quick bursts and speed. With no Costa or Pagoada, Trudeau remains as the only elite seeking optionbut taking him out of the quaffle game will seriously hamper the team’s top-flight snitch-on-pitch ability.

While this team certainly has the pieces to make a run for the title and their laissez-faire approach has worked thus far, the lack of full team practices and poor utilization of depth will finally catch up to them this season as other teams in our top 10 have added another season of chemistry to their arsenal. So do as they say and chill out, rankers. The Bearsharks are coming up short this season.

Credit: Mike Iadevaia

Death, Taxes and the Bearsharks in the Final Four
By Ethan Sturm, Managing Editor

It is not exactly a bold opinion to say that the Bosnyan Bearsharks will once again be one of the top three or four club teams since it’s literally all this team has ever done. After forming before the 2016-17 season, Bosnyan made a run to the Final Four at the mixed-division USQ Cup 10 and followed it up with a semifinal run in the club division of USQ Cup 11 before falling in-range to eventual champions Texas Cavalry. Throw in Emerson College’s World Cup VII Final Four run and Q.C. Boston’s USQ Cup 9 title run, and you can begin see to see that Tyler Trudeau and David Fox in a nationals Final Four is right up there with death and taxes as an absolute certainty.

Of course, this team will have to adjust to some important offseason losses. Teddy Costa will be spending the season in Texas with the Houston Cosmos, while J.C. Arencibiacoming off a dominant performance for the New York Titans at MLQ Championshiphas moved over to The Warriors. But both were really cherries on top of a core that had already made the USQ Cup 10 semifinal before they joined. Arencibia was firmly behind Trudeau in the team’s depth chart this past season and will be more than made up for by the additions of Basem Ashkar and David Stack, and the loss of Costa will be mitigated by the continued emergence of his former RPI teammate Michael Li and the addition of UNC graduate Justin Cole.

And that aforementioned core is what keeps Bosnyan so firmly entrenched in the top four. In a division where top-end talent continues to get more and more sparse, the Bearsharks still have it at every single position. Mario Nasta and Leeanne Dillmann are capable of achieving parity or better in any beater matchup they come up against, and Perry Wang will just further the incredible depth the team has at the position. Julia Baer and Carli Haggerty are the strongest pair of female chasers around. Trudeau’s star continues to rise at both the keeper and seeker positions after his impressive USNT performance, and their chaser lines remain an effective mix of physicality, finesse, talent and experience.

It’s very possible that this team will see its ranking tank as the season progresses. Due to a combination of a roster split across two cities and a propensity for showing up to regular-season tournaments far from full strength, Bosnyan entered USQ Cup 10 ranked No. 11 and USQ Cup 11 ranked No. 5. And they are not the deepest team, a scab picked on at the 2017 Northeast Regional Championship where they went a combined 1-3 against Q.C. Boston and Rochester United in a taxing slate of games, and in the late stages of USQ Cup 10, where they ran out of gas playing Lone Star Q.C. and Q.C. Boston back-to-back and had nothing left for their semifinal match against Texas State University.

But this is a team built for nationals weekend. At USQ Cup 11, they had to play just one in-range game on Saturdaya 150*-110 win over the Los Angeles Gambitsresting themselves for a brutal stretch of Sunday games. They should be able to do so again this year in a pool likely to be even less competitive. And once they’re on to Sunday, in a single game, the Bearsharks can hang with anyone, and they have proven that time and again, with a chest of nationals bracket play scalps that includes The Warriors and the aforementioned Lone Star and Boston. And, assuming the format stays the same, a single game is all they will need to once again find themselves in familiar territory, with yet another top-four finish.

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