Guest Column: Southwest Beater Analysis


After spending much of last season at the top of the rankings, Texas A&M proved they belong there again this season with a win at the Wolf Pack Classic. Credit: Ruben Polanco

After spending much of last season at the top of the rankings, Texas A&M proved they belong there again this season with a win at the Wolf Pack Classic. Credit: Ruben Polanco

Despite some last minute drop outs and awful early morning weather conditions, the 2nd Annual Wolf Pack Classic continued as planned: several of the top teams in the IQA battled it out to reestablish the pecking order on who was the best in the Southwest (and in turn, the world of quidditch).

The tournament featured some interregional competition as there were  teams in attendance from the South such as University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Southern Mississippi and University of Southern Alabama. Pool play ended up being a mud battle:  most of every team’s passing game had to be forgone and instead replaced with hero ball and clean up goals. Luckily, before bracket play the fields were shifted and the rain had long since stopped to allow for  much better game play.

Pool 1

University of Texas – 3-0

LSU – 2-1

Florida State University – 1-2

University of Southern Alabama* – 0-3

 

When the pools were first released, everyone saw that UTSA and UT were in the same pool and that quickly drew a lot of hype as the game of the weekend; unfortunately, UTSA withdrew from the tournament leaving  the questions about their rising stardom to remain unanswered for now.

One of the very first games of the day saw UT and LSU face off against one another and for the first few minutes it looked like LSU would be able to hang with UT as the sloppy conditions greatly hindered the Longhorn’s offensive drives. However, once UT got a grip on the conditions and how to handle them they began to pull away significantly. The day didn’t get much easier for LSU as they struggled against both FSU and USA, winning by snitch catches in both games. It should be noted that USA was unofficial for this tournament and had Sean Pagoada on their roster for their game against LSU, which easily contributed to them keeping the score close enough to pull the snitch and take it to overtime.

FSU had a relatively good day and were able to win convincingly against USA and hold LSU to a close loss. Even against UT they appeared to be able to slow down the offense quite a bit and force mistakes to the point where they were able to catch the snitch as soon as it got back on pitch, successfully keeping the Longhorns from a blow out game. Overall, the Longhorns dominated their competition, but not necessarily in as convincing a fashion as they were doing last year. Despite the poor conditions it was still very evident that UT needs to continue to work hard to rebuild their chemistry from last year.

Pool 2

Lone Star QC – 3-0

Austin Quidditch – 2-1

University of Southern Mississippi – 1-2

Mercs* – 0-3

LSQC clearly dominated all the competition in Pool 2. Their biggest competition was AQ who they faced in their first game of the day. The game ended up not being close at all – LSQC displayed a lot of growth in chemistry since Breakfast Taco. Their newer players were much better assimilated onto the team and their passing game was much more in-sync. After that first loss, AQ went on to win handily against both USM and the Merc team. Like their 1st team they still need to gain more experience as a team to build up their chemistry, but they have plenty of depth and athleticism to carry them in the meantime and can easily beat most middle-tier teams.

After performing surprisingly well at the Southern Regionals last season, USM struggled to show off their potential at this tournament. They took hard losses to LSQC and AQ and were taken to overtime by the Merc team. USM does seem like they are on a path to improvement, as they had a number of athletic players and their strategy was much more evolved than it was last year. They just need to make a few adjustments here and there to strategy, improve on their tackling, and get their newer players more in game experience.

Pool 3

Texas A&M University – 3-0

University of Florida – 2-1

Loyola University – 1-2

Tulane University – 0-3

As with the other pools, the top Texas team, TAMU, easily swept through their pool only facing a little challenge during the beginning of their game against UF where they struggled to find their groove on offense. As soon as the Aggies found it, the goals started coming and never really wavered the rest of the day. University of Florida had some great moments and Dre Clements acted as a solid ball carrier making some good drives and passes near the hoops, but ultimately the Aggies were able to shut him down near half field on almost every drive, crippling the Gator offense. After that game, UF was able to better showcase their passing game against Loyola and Tulane where they won both games without much of a problem.  Loyola won the one game they should have and then floundered against the two better teams in their pool. They still have a long way to go to be able to snag one of the Southwest World Cup bids this year. Their beating game was very aggressive and successful but it didn’t matter much as their chasers couldn’t seem to score.

Being a new team at a Southwest tournament is never easy – such as was the case for Tulane, but the takeaway is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. They will come away from the Wolf Pack Classic with a lot of great experience. Tulane actually had a very good first tournament despite their scores as they seemed to already have a decent grasp of strategy and a good number of athletic players to start really building their team around.

Bracket Play

Play In

FSU 90* – Tulane 10

Loyola 110*^ – USM 70

Quarterfinals

TAMU 180* – Loyola 20

LSQC 90 – FSU 40*

UT 120* – LSU 50

AQ 100* – UF 60

Semifinals

TAMU 140* – AQ 30

LSQC 110* – UT 20

Finals

TAMU 90* – LSQC 10

 

No one was really surprised by the progression of bracket play as Lone Star QC, Texas A&M, and Texas were all expected to easily make it to the semifinals without breaking too much of a sweat, but that fourth spot was a little bit more up in the air depending on how seedings shook out. LSU, Austin Quidditch, and University of Florida were all in the conversation and after LSU got the unlucky draw of facing off against UT in the quarterfinals, it was going to be either AQ or UF. However, LSU had a phenomenal game against UT in the quarterfinals where they were actually within snitch range to make a catch and win the game when the snitch got back on pitch. Brad Armentor had a great game providing most of LSU’s scores off drives to the hoops and Daniel DePaula did a fantastic job of maintaining bludger control when he was on the field and making offensive beats that created open lanes for Armentor to drive through. Ultimately, the Longhorn depth would be LSU’s downfall because as soon as the LSU starters subbed out the UT offense had a pretty easy time putting points on the board. The Longhorn chasers remained patient and avoided getting flustered even when the game was close which helped them to pull ahead towards the end of the game.

The semifinal game of LSQC versus UT proved to be one of the two most surprising matches of the tournament mainly due to the margin by which LSQC won the match. The Longhorns have not lost a game out of snitch range in over two years. Due to the fact the tournament was running late, the remaining teams elected to play some back-to-back games to keep the tournament from running late into the night. Therefore, right after LSQC beat FSU they then almost immediately started warming up to face off against UT, who were coming off a bit of a break. As soon as “Brooms Up” was called it was extremely apparent that LSQC was still riding a wave of adrenaline from the previous game and UT was struggling to achieve any sort of momentum. Bludger control was dominated by LSQC for a majority of the match and offensively their passing game was very well developed as they were able to get multiple passes going around the hoops patiently waiting for a hole to open up for one player to make a shot or drive to the hoops. LSQC truly came into their own in this game, transitioning through subs seamlessly without losing momentum and showing a better glimpse of their potential as a team. While LSQC did dominate, UT also seemed to have an uncharacteristically sloppy game that attributed greatly to the outcome. They were not as poised as they normally are and failed to convert many easy opportunities to score right by the hoops.

Again for the sake of finishing up the tournament at a decent time, both TAMU and LSQC elected to only take a quick break before going ahead and playing the finals. At the start of the match it appeared as though the game was going to be extremely close and easily come down to a snitch catch. TAMU immediately gained bludger control from the start and held onto it for a slight majority of the match, but it did shift back and forth between both sides throughout most of the game. Neither team scored until several minutes prior to the ten minute seeker floor. During that time LSQC missed out on two easy goals that could have shifted the momentum in their favor early on. Texas A&M scored first and from that point on they dominated the match. They played shut-down defense such that  LSQC could barely get their passing game going as the pressure against them was so fast they had no time to ever really survey the field for open passing options. TAMU picked up the pace of their game and LSQC simply could not keep up as it constantly forced them to tire out and make mistakes. LSQC also attempted a different subbing strategy at chaser by always leaving in one of their three veterans, Simon Arends, Kody Marshall, and Beto Natera, along with one rookie chaser, but this plan backfired as those players became too exhausted to compete with the highly athletic and constantly fresh Aggie chasers. Regardless, once Texas A&M gained the momentum they didn’t back down and proved that once again they deserve to be recognized as the top quidditch team in the world. They carried every game well out of snitch range and set the bar high for what the rest of the Southwest will have to compete with at the Lone Star Cup.

 

All-Tournament Team

This team was established after collaboration with various captains and players that were in attendance at the Wolf Pack Classic.

Stephen Bell – Lone Star Quidditch – Keeper

The man with one of the most graceful strides in the league continues to impress with his performance at the 2nd Annual Wolf Pack Classic. Stephen Bell displayed the same fantastic gameplay on both sides of the ball that he became widely recognized for last season. On defense he consistently made great blocks and interceptions that helped maintain the momentum for Lone Star QC throughout the day, especially in their semifinal game against the reigning World Champs, the University of Texas. He also ran a very smooth offense as a primary ball carrier where he was able to unite a chaser line that is still struggling some due to a lack of chemistry.

Drew Wasikowski – Texas A&M – Chaser/Keeper

It was no surprise that Drew Wasikowski showed up to this tournament with his A game, especially after having the benefit of a couple weeks of practice to make adjustments to his game after they suffered losses to LSQC and UT at Breakfast Taco. Wasikowski has been steadily improving each year as he has trained harder to put on a significant amount of muscle mass and hone his basic skill sets such as shooting, passing, and tackling to near perfection. He demonstrated large improvements to his point defending game, which was already very solid to begin with, but now he has stepped it up even more to where he engaged in contact at a lightning speed and never allowed an opposing player to slip away from him.

Brad Armentor – Louisiana State University – Chaser

After the Summer Games, Mr. Armentor seemed to fall off most people’s quidditch radars for top players, especially considering LSU’s struggles last year. However, at THE Fantasy Tournament Brad Armentor displayed a renewed fire in his game which continued to be shown off at the Wolf Pack Classic. His stamina has improved quite a bit as he was in a majority of every game for LSU where almost any time there wasn’t a bludger facing off against him, he would successfully drive for an easy score. Although many times he preferred the role of the distributer where he would first juke the point defender and then accurately loft the quaffle off to one of his teammates behind the hoops. He has been working hard to diversify his skill sets, and it was very evident in New Orleans.

Keri Callegari – Lone Star Quidditch – Chaser

As a recent graduate from Texas A&M, Keri Callegari has been transitioning well into the high caliber offense of Lone Star QC. Callegari is a very multifaceted player that has the capability to either drive the ball to the hoops herself or fall into a receiver role by consistently finding the open areas around the hoops. Most notable is her tenacity on the pitch where she will never give up on a play and always exerts 100% of her energy every time she steps on the pitch to play. She is exceptionally scrappy and many times can keep a seemingly dead offensive play alive by continuing the fight for a loose quaffle. Her high intensity game play was paramount in helping LSQC maintain momentum throughout the Wolf Pack Classic.

Mathieu Gregoire – Texas A&M – Chaser/ Beater

For the first time in quite a while, Mathieu Gregoire donned a white headband that he hasn’t regularly worn since before World Cup IV. As soon as he set foot on the pitch, though, no one would have guessed that beater has been his primary position the past few years. Mathieu is naturally athletic and a highly intelligent quidditch player with experience dating back to when the World Cup was still held at Middlebury. At Wolf Pack he proved to be an extremely well rounded chaser where he could fit into almost any given role depending on the situation. He acted as a receiver behind the hoops, a ball carrier, a point defender and even a distraction for opposing beaters when necessary. Then without missing a beat (literally) he was able to switch back to his black headband in the finals for some time and help set the pace for what would eventually be a dominating Texas A&M victory.

Mollie Lensing – Lone Star Quidditch -Beater

Starting her second year out of Texas A&M, Mollie still plays a level above and beyond most other beaters, which is impressive considering she spent the last year mostly chasing for the Silver Phoenixes and as a result didn’t get much time in the spotlight. What makes Mollie so fearsome on the pitch is her speed, her beater IQ, and her tenacity. With male beaters like Eric Willroth and Bo Roth, who have been playing beater for a relatively short amount of time, Mollie has had to take charge by commanding the field and by verbally coordinating strategy on and off the pitch. Her leadership and overall dominance as a beater is what Lensing is known for and was well-displayed in New Orleans.

Sean Fry – Texas A&M – Beater

Another player seemingly switched around into a different position for Texas A&M this year is Sean Fry. He has been a utility player the past two years for TAMU where he has dabbled in chasing, keeping, and beating; however, this year it appears that Fry will serve primarily as a beater for the Aggies. Previously at beater he displayed a lot of aggression, speed, and relentlessness to maintain bludger control which unfortunately sometimes clouded his judgment and led to some poor strategic decisions, but at the Wolf Pack Classic Fry really showed off his growth in the position where he featured a new found sense of finesse and poise on defense. His accuracy has also improved dramatically, making him an even more dangerous beater to go up against if you are an opposing chaser.

Kenny Chilton – University of Texas – Chaser/ Seeker

As one of the few returning players from the World Champion team, Kenny Chilton has really stepped up to become a true leader and playmaker for the University of Texas this season. Even when he isn’t on the field, he is constantly yelling from the sidelines to keep his team hyped which definitely makes a bigger difference towards a team’s performance than most people realize. Chilton is the ideal team player in that he always does whatever his team needs of him. He starts at beater to guarantee bludger control for his team, then subs in at chaser periodically with the ability to be an excellent point defender or receiver on offense, and finally he subs in as on-field seeker to quickly finish off a game. He is quite a force to be reckoned with at seeker as he has really perfected a great two handed technique that is very difficult for snitches to fend off.

Kifer Gregoire – Texas A&M – Chaser/ Seeker

With both Luke Wigley and Dirk absent from the Wolf Pack Classic, Kifer Gregoire had to take over some of the on pitch seeking duties for Texas A&M, and he definitely did not disappoint as he caught two snitches at the tournament. By utilizing his strength and quickness in conjecture with an unyielding pressure on the snitch, Kifer has become a very threatening seeking backup for the Aggies. As a chaser, he continued to perform at the  high level of play that has been regularly seen from him. In New Orleans, he may have established himself as the best current point defender in quidditch. He was already widely recognized as one of the top players in that area, but this tournament showcased improvements to his overall speed and quickness where he was able to completely freeze opposing players at half field and then engage in a successful takedown within a few seconds.







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