From what I observed at World Cup VI, Bowling Green State is a team that plays very well together. Their unique two male beater set and two female chaser set causes problems for many teams. Standout player Dan Daugherty can score from midfield in addition to find open teammates. The whole team plays hard, with good defense and determination.
Daugherty, an assistant captain for BGSU's says, "I do my best to lead by example...I'm going to go down fighting."
At Midwest Cup, BGSU burst onto the scene. Earning the number one overall seed going into Bracket Play, BGSU advanced all the way to finals before losing to Marquette. Daugherty earned the Eighth Man's Sportsman of the Year Award. BGSU trained throughout the winter, practicing indoors and outdoors in frigid conditions. But, BGSU remained around 15 in the Eighth Man's rankings and dropped off the radar of many other quidditch fans/teams/14-year-old bloggers. Some went as far as to call Bowling Green State overrated or a fluke team. Daugherty talks about pre-WCVI skepticism of BGSU explaining, "Before World Cup a lot of people were talking about us not being very good and saying we were a lucky team who did well in one tournament."
Day One at World Cup did not go well for BGSU. Against Rochester, a game which they lost by a snitch grab, BGSU looked tense and their offense had not gotten into a rhythm. BGSU defeated Paris Phénix, but as expected, lost to UCLA. Facing elimination against Oklahoma State, Daugherty recalls that captain Kate Milligan, "sat us all down.. and basically told us that we needed to start playing our game and have fun doing it."
In a 32 minute game (perhaps a hint at marathons to come) BGSU scored 200 points on Oklahoma State, winning 200*-70. The offense clicked and BGSU lived to play another day.
As the sun rose on Day Two, BGSU squeaked out a victory against Tennessee Tech, then took to the Championship Field opposite Miami. The metal bleachers were almost completely empty. The temperature hadn't soared yet. It was comfortable. Miami waited around the field, as if eager to just survive and advance. BGSU talked in a huddle and Daugherty says he and his teammates, "were just having fun and were excited to play more."
BGSU returned to the Championship Field, which practically became their home on Day Two, for a Sweet 16 matchup against Maryland. The Maryland game was very similar to the Miami game. Maryland jumped out to a lead with great passing and efficient scoring, but made their mistake when they centered their strategy around Daugherty. "My favorite game was the Maryland game because after I went in and scored two quick goals they kept a bludger on me and thought they could beat us by stopping me. That is when I deferred to my teammates to score 40 unanswered points."
The forty unanswered points knotted the game at 60, just in time for the snitch to return to the field. A quick hands move on snitch Alan Black and BGSU seeker Sam Roitblat had the snitchsock in his hand again. Roitblat hoisted snitchsock above his head and ran towards his bench before being mobbed by the team. On the 90*-60 victory, Daugherty says, "My teammates are some of the most underrated players in the world. I'm a lucky player to have them by my side."
After a break, Bowling Green's Elite Eight matchup against the Lost Boys started uneventfully. At first, majority of spectators were at the neighboring field to see Texas and Texas A&M. As the BGSU's game wore on and the score rose, fans began to migrate to the Championship Field, possibly sensing something historic was in the making. The bleachers became packed with large regional cheering sections. Spectators rushed in assistance to each team's bench with water and support. It seemed as if both teams faded in exhaustion, player by player, until only two remained: Daugherty and Lost Boys' keeper Tony Rodriguez. "I played through whatever exhaustion I had for my team," says Daugherty. "I wouldn't say I put them on my back, I would say their constant love and support and family atmosphere put me on their back and allowed me to continue to perform at a high level."
Dripping with sweat and doubled over during stoppages of play, Rodriguez and Daugherty faced off at each end of the field while Roitblat and Lost Boys seeker, Steve DiCarlo fought for the snitch. The snitch refused to be caught. Bowling Green State's beaters focused completely on DiCarlo extending the game. The score was 210-200, with the Lost Boys in front, when Roitbalt performed another extraordinarily quick move on the snitch for a snatch. 230*-210 was the final tally. On the game as a whole, Daugherty said, "The Lost Boys game was a battle of pure heart and determination. Neither team would allow the other to get out of snitch range and it was so much fun to be a part of."
One of the most amazing and touching moments came post-game when spectators poured onto the field to form two, long, snaking tunnels leading the players back to their bench. The support from the quidditch community after that game, Daugherty states, was an "amazing feeling."
The final four was set now. Bowling Green Stats would be playing Texas, after UCLA and Baylor faced off. Some BGSU players, hot and tired, fell asleep in the shade beneath the bleachers. It seemed as if no time had passed before BGSU was back on the field opposite Texas before hundreds of people. Just to be there, in final four of World Cup VI, "meant the world to us," according to Daugherty. Texas didn't completely overwhelm BGSU, and at one point it looked possible that Bowling Green State might be able to claw their way back into the game, but in the end Texas proved to be the better team. Ending the run fittingly, BGSU grabbed a suicide snatch. Texas won 140-50*.
BG Quidditch walked away from the World Cup with immense respect from the quidditch community. The way they handled themselves throughout the tournament and fought through tough games speaks a lot about the team's character. How spectators and other teams rallied around BGSU not only shows the excitement of a Cinderella, but also what kind of team BGSU is. That widespread respect wasn't just given to the black and orange, it was earned. Congrats to BGSU for shocking the world and it was really fun watch you guys!