Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Turtle Cup III: Team-by-Team Reports

Finally! The beginning of my Turtle Cup coverage! Here is a detailed report of all of the teams I watched at Turtle Cup. I loved being able to take in depth notes on so many skilled teams. It feels great to finally be putting out my thoughts and not an organized review of what I've heard through facebook posts, interviews and other articles. More coverage, including a videotaped roundtable and post game interviews coming soon. Thanks for reading!
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
The story of the day, Emerson bounced back from the early overtime loss to the NYDC Capitalists and strung together four straight quality wins in bracket play. Emerson was very reliant on the play of David Foxx and specifically, his fast break ability. With Pablo Calderon-Santiago and Jackson Maher, Emerson's chasing in the half court was considerably less strategic and more Foxx. This is not to say that Emerson's remaining chasers are weak. They have some up and coming talent in new chasers Kevin Estavanik and Eli Page, and former Boston Riot player Leeanne Dillman. Estavanik is long and agile, with great natural athleticism. Emerson has switched to a zone defense (one point defender, two beaters, two hoop defenders and one behind hoop defender) and Estavanik played well with Foxx and Tyler Trudeau defending the hoops. Page is a quick, small chaser who will not hesitate to throw himself into tackles and with Emerson's lack of female chasers this weekend, Dillman stepped up with good positioning and solid defense behind the hoops. Beating wise, Aaron Wohl had a spectacular day and put in great games against NYDC, Maryland and Villanova. Despite some recent attention given to Emerson's new seekers, NYDC and Tufts had better rotations and Maryland's rotation was about even. For a Top 15 team, Emerson's seeking was just average. I think the newer seekers definitely can improve, and could possibly reach their potential by Northeast Regionals next month. What matters most though, is that faced with a lot of challenges, Emerson managed to win the tournament. Often times, the Lions were just tougher, grittier and playing with more passion.

The hosts Maryland, given an easy pool, were presented with their first challenge and last challenge of the day against Emerson in the quarterfinals. Maryland is loaded with a deep team of athletes, but lacks a star player who can take over games. Without a bulldozing game changer, Maryland relies on good, technically sound, patient possessions that maximize every quaffle player and move the quaffle all around the pitch. Maryland was arguably the most impressive team at Turtle Cup, with great performances from Harry Greenhouse, Matt Angelico, Steven Gambino and Kelly Fernandez. The Terrapins looked as if they were at mid-season form in only their second tournament. Up 20 on Emerson at the time of the Tyler Trudeau snatch, if given a few more minutes, Maryland would have been out of snitch range. Beating, which ended up failing the Terrapins by fractions of a second on the Trudeau snatch, seems to be the main concern. Led by Ricky Nelson, the Maryland beaters started the the game strong, but faded, allowing Emerson to stay in the game and get the snitch. With a wealth of athletic chasers, finding good seekers to round out a Harry Greenhouse-led seeking corps shouldn't be hard. Able to lock down on defense due to good communication between chasers and beaters, the Maryland captains have really whipped together a contender this year. Maryland should be the clear favorite going into Mid Atlantic Regionals next month.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
The NYDC Capitalists made their big time tournament debut, after finishing at the top in Canada and the Big Apple. Weaknesses were exposed by Emerson and Tufts, but NYDC played both of the Boston teams evenly. The best part of NYDC's game is their seeking. The Capitalists' seeking rotation is truly elite. Don't let the marathon game against Tufts fool you into thinking otherwise. At Turtle Cup III, it was Mo Haggag, Freddy Varone and Steve Minnich who wrestled, grappled, chased and flipped their way to pushing snitches to their limits. Then, the Capitalists also have Billy Greco, who specializes in seeking, and a whole group of guys with seeking experience and success (Michael Parada, Steve Hysick, Alex Linde, etc.). If not the most talented, the NYDC seeking corps is the deepest that I've ever seen. NYDC's beating corps didn't turn in the best performance this weekend against the Boston teams, allowing too many points and too much penetration of the defense. The Capitalists' beaters have been criticized as just being average, but they do elevate their level of play when the snitch is on the pitch. With a bunch of physical guys who can tackle and dish out hits like Tony Greco, Donnie Lynch and James Hicks, the Capitalists are very comfortable on defense. They guard the fast break pretty well, even stopping a charging David Foxx from scoring with a last ditch tackle a few times. Offense is where things change. With Parada in at keeper, NYDC's offense is a lot more dynamic, as more offensive options come with a player of Parada's caliber. Hicks and Gaffigan are good, but the Parada-run offense has so many more ways it can hurt you. NYDC will most likely be in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Finals, and like Villanova last year, could snatch a regional championship if they keep the score low.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
A new era of quidditch at Tufts has arrived, and it's going to be successful one. Tufts has at least three very cohesive, evenly matched chaser lines that all do different things well. In awe of the transformation Tufts has taken since World Cup VI, I didn't get too many notes about their chasers. There were really too many people to talk about, from David Stack, to Hannah DeBaets, to Noah Schwartz everyone played their role and together, they produced a winner. With height on each line, 2013-14 Tufts reminds me of BU without a great transition offense. Beaters Mike Sanders and Nora Mueller put in a ton of minutes, playing smart and accurate, especially with the snitch on the pitch. The finals result against Emerson should be ignored as Tufts was physically and emotionally drained after the 35+ minute marathon with NYDC. If a potent fast break attack is added to Tufts' arsenal, which shouldn't be a problem considering their athleticism, I think they can play within snitch range of any team in the Northeast and be an elite eight team at World Cup VII.

Villanova, starting their first season without star players Zach D'Amico and Billy Greco, surprised many by going 3-0 in pool play and advancing to the semifinals. While Villanova could not contend with Emerson, they proved that they were the best of the second tier of teams at Turtle Cup III with wins over Hofstra, Richmond and Penn State. The chaser trio of Greg Habeeb, Khalil Taylor and Andrew Garber have great chemistry and scored most of Villanova's goals. The three chasers, fast and agile, can also break tackles and play surprisingly gritty, physical defense. Villanova doesn't really have any star players and has okay depth, meaning that it is extra important that they gel as a team and play unselfishly in order to find success. If the Wildcats' beating improves, they have Dan Takaki to close games as a seeker and could possibly contend for the Mid-Atlantic Championship next month. Right now though, even after a solid performance at Turtle Cup III, Villanova is still looking up at Maryland and NYDC.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Richmond is interesting. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the Spiders. I thought they would place third in the pool. During their game against Villanova, both teams played poor offensively, dropping passes and throwing up inaccurate shots. Richmond's defense was good, as they held Villanova to 30 points in 14 minutes. The Spiders' beating corps seems to have handled the loss of Julia Baer this semester and the chaser defense was tight with keeper Jeremy Day in the back. Able to muscle their way to 30 points also, Richmond ended up losing to Villanova on a snitch catch. Against Hofstra, Richmond looked fantastic. Suddenly, chasers were getting open, making catches below and above their heads, turning, and making smart decisions with the quaffle. Richmond handled the physicality of Hofstra players Jaime Colon and Alex Leitch as well as any of Hofstra's opponents. The Spiders half court offense was playing like a different team, and Day pushed them into the transition a couple of times. The end of one of these fast breaks was capped memorably with a Richmond chaser diving through the small hoop. A lock to qualify for World Cup VII, Richmond could surprise with a semifinal appearance at Mid Atlantic Regionals.

Penn State is a completely different team without power chaser Jason Rosenberg, who will likely miss regionals with a broken foot. Without the explosive presence of Rosenberg, the Nittany Lions went 3-2, losing to Tufts and Villanova. Lucky to have keeper Tommy Reinhart taking the reins to the offense, Penn State should still make the semifinals at Mid Atlantic, but will likely not contend for the regional championship. Penn State mostly stayed organized and kept passes and beats accurate, but once they were playing more physical teams, they just couldn't punch it through the hoops. Decent passing showed by Penn State was ruined by several fumbles and "strip and scores." (An opposing chaser would rip the quaffle out of the arms of a Penn State chaser and then breakaway for an easy goal at the other end). Beater Scott Axel's great defensive leadership and organization was a strength, but he seemed to have an off day in the accuracy department, with too many errant throws for a beater of his level. A capable backup or partner for Axel, Folahan Akinyemi showed promise covering lots of ground and beating smartly.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Turtle Cup III, marked as the first test for a confident UNC team, did not go well if you look at the results. Blowout losses to Emerson, Tufts and Penn State were caused by a terrible lack of depth. It was clear that UNC's top players were very skilled and athletic, but below that, their players really didn't have any kind of an effect on the game. It was easy to say, "UNC! That team was way overhyped!" However, I am still very much on board the UNC hype train. A late addition to the tournament, UNC could only bring a roster of twelve active players. Out of the twelve, only three had played quidditch before this year. Keeper Ed Bartels, who at Minerva Cup, pushed UNC's fast break to the limit while impressively staying controlled, was not there, putting the Tar Heels at a serious height disadvantage (especially against Tufts). Support chasers were a problem all day. Chasers Max Miceli and Amit Katyayan were often best just driving or trying to get off a shot than passing. This type of hero offense, while it worked to get some points on the board, was unimpressive compared to the sophisticated, complex strategies run by the top tier at Turtle Cup. Chasers Ally and Courtney Reynolds, two Turtle Cup-absentees, displayed great positioning at Minerva Cup and would have added another dimension to UNC's offense. The Reynolds sisters would have allowed the Tar Heels' super aggressive two male beater set work better for the team. With the Reynolds', Bartels, beaters Clay Ballard and Luke Miller, and chaser JJ Foster, UNC would have beaten Penn State and given a greater challenge to Tufts and Emerson. Jumping off the UNC hype train right now would be foolish.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Hofstra came out third in their pool, losing to Villanova and Richmond before notching one notable win over Rochester. The big star of Hofstra's depleted chasing corps is Jaime Colon. On defense, he would rush out to meet a driving chaser and deliver monstrous hits. Colon couldn't do much about an unmarked or poorly guarded chaser behind the hoops, though and Hofstra conceded many goals this way. Colon brings the quaffle up on offense, but after making a pass, starts to retreat into his defensive half. When he sees an opening, he drives, but if Hofstra is going to beat teams like Villanova and Richmond in the future, they have to figure out a way to get Colon more involved in the offense. To do this, Hofstra has to use the three amazing weapons that they have at beater. Assuming they can get bludger control, I would suggest the "one and a half" strategy that is becoming pretty popular. With a bludger-less Alex Leitch going up with the offense to wreak havoc and tackle opposing beaters, either Theresa Buchta or Mike Iadevaia would stay back with two bludgers to use if necessary. Buchta and Iadevaia would be perfect, as they are both patient, accurate and good decision makers. If executed well, this strategy could free up Jaime Colon to score more, while not leaving the Flying Dutchmen vulnerable to fast breaks.

Rochester, thought to maybe be a contender at Northeast Regionals, had a difficult day, going 2-2, with a bad loss to Hofstra in the Round of 16. Star player Devin Sandon was limited with a knee injury, but the rest of the team wasn't able to make up for the loss of his dynamic, play-making ability. Besides the unveiling of their awesome new jerseys, a 90*-10 win over Geneseo was the highlight of the day for the Thestrals.

Clad in maroon, matching jerseys and eye black, Lock Haven has a good bit of athleticism but doesn't really know what to do with this. They can play ok defense, but offensively, they are just "hero-ing." With ten teams qualifying from the Mid-Atlantic, a rotation of several athletic "heroes" can get the job done if they start playing more disciplined at least. So many forced long shots can't happen if Lock Haven is going to go to North Myrtle Beach. Keeper AJ Radle is probably Lock Haven's best player, as he is an imposing presence with great shot blocking ability. Ultimately, Lock Haven should look to move away from the hero offense, and use the pieces they have to create a winning team. If they can both qualify for World Cup VII and implement an offense with any sort of complexity, Lock Haven is not going to be one of those pot five teams that will be steamrolled in four straight games.

1 comment:

  1. Penn State was missing 6 players to injuries including Rosenberg. Almost all of those players had size. What was your take on Tufts close games against Penn State and UNC compared to NYDC?