Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hey Now, You're a Fall Star

These 16 all stars of the fall season have gotten their game on and gone to play. Included on my list are two teams of one keeper, two male chasers, one female chaser, one male beater, one female beater and two utility players.

First Team
K Tony Rodriguez (Lost Boys)--Rodriguez has had stellar season so far as the main distributor of a thriving Lost Boys offense. While there are only complete statistics for one of Rodriguez's three tournaments this season, I would expect that his stats from SCQC are similar to his stats from Lumberjack and Western Cup. All the goals (18 at SCQC) are impressive, yes, but it's the assists (11 at SCQC for a quidditch double-double) that show that Rodriguez deserves the nod as the fall's top keeper.

C Drew Wasikowski (Texas A&M)--Amid a cluster of very good teams in the Southwest, Wasikowski's team at A&M has emerged as the clear best. Wasikowski gets my pick as a first team fall all star for more than just his on field abilities though. He and the other A&M veterans have trained Texas A&M's new recruits fantastically. Watching Wasikowski communicate with his newer players on the field, you can see that his leadership abilities might be the most valuable trait in quidditch right now.

C Chris Morris (Lone Star)--Morris stepped into the spotlight this fall when keeper Stephen Bell was sidelined at Lone Star Cup. Taking over point duties, Morris kept LSQC in a tight game with the nation's number one team despite missing Bell and a couple of other key players. Morris' ball handling skills are especially impressive. While quidditch is often advertised as being played "one-armed," Morris takes full advantage of both arms. When driving, Morris likes to lodge the quaffle in between his body and broom arm, freeing up a hand to stiff arm. It is very effective and the ease and quickness which Morris can switch the quaffle from one hand to the other is amazing.  

C Vanessa Goh (Lost Boys)--Goh gets my vote for fall season MVP. Hauling in the MVP trophy at Lumberjack and then tallying the second highest point total at SCQC (15 goals), I don't think the Lost Boys would still be undefeated without Vanessa Goh. Between throwing players to the ground on defense and breaking ankles with her signature catch away from the body followed by a juke in the opposite direction and a goal, (If I was working for Sports Center, I would totally make a compilation highlight of these clips) Goh is revolutionizing the role of female chasers in quidditch.

B Chris Seto (Lost Boys)--While teammate Peter Lee gets more attention, Chris Seto has been the Lost Boys best beater this season. Seto's defining characteristic is his agility and reflexes. Anticipating cross field passes and bobbled catches, an opposing team has to have a perfect possession to score if Seto's on the field. Comfortable playing conservatively or aggressively, the Lost Boys can use lots of different strategies centering around Seto to target their opponents' weakness.

B Mollie Lensing (Lone Star)--Lensing has come back into the game even stronger than when she left. Retaining composure under pressure, Lensing has set the example on defense for not only the new LSQC beaters, but the chaser defense too. With unbreakable focus, LSQC's defense is formidable with Lensing in the center.

C/B/S Sean Pagoada (Florida's Finest)--Playing with his new community team, Pagoada was the talk of the early season as Florida's Finest rolled in their first tournament. Then taking his talents to New Orleans for the Wolf Pack Classic, Pagoada showed the Southwest his playmaking ability. Although the Flamingoes lost at their last tournament, Pagoada makes my list as a utility player. With a year of experience beating last year at Miami and seeking experience too, Pagoada can hurt an opposing team in so many ways.

C/S Harry Greenhouse (Maryland)--I recently wrote about Greenhouse in my Weekend that Was column on the IQA website. The reasons why I chose Greenhouse as the Player of the Weekend for his performance at MARC are the same reasons why he is on my fall all star team.

"Maryland is a pretty deep team with terrific players across the board. However, one player stands out. Harry Greenhouse is a household name in the quidditch world for both his chasing and seeking skills, and at MARC 2013, he turned in another fantastic performance. What stands out about Greenhouse is his hustle and agression. When playing point defense, the instant Greenhouse is beat, he's sprinting back to the hoops and picking up the open player. On offense, although many players avoid engaging the opposing point defender, Greenhouse tears through point defenders sending the defense into chaos. With the yellow headband, Greenhouse is tirelessly physical, catching experienced snitch runner Rob Snitch in both the semi-final and finals. Greenhouse's hustle should be a model to a young Maryland team that I believe has the athletes to compete with the best of the Southwest, but currently lacks the explosiveness to do so."

Second Team
K Stephen Bell (Lone Star)--If not for his absence in the Lone Star Cup finals, Bell might have been my pick as the best keeper of the fall. But missing such an important game bumps him down to honorable mention. Bell has been running the LSQC offense and doing a great job of getting LSQC's many talented chasers touches.

C David Fox (Emerson) and C Brendan Stack or C Michael Powell (BU)--The personal rivalry of Fox versus Stack/Powell in the Northeast has been captured in full glory by the photography of Michael E. Mason. While Stack and Powell are the leaders of a regional champion, Fox tore through the Mid-Atlantic at Turtle Cup with great strength and explosiveness. There might be a clash in styles between the physical Fox and the passing-minded Stack and Powell, but these are some of the best quaffle players outside of the Southwest right now. I can't wait for World Cup VII to see these guys tested against Southwest defenses.

C Becca DuPont (Texas A&M)--DuPont seems to be loving a more complete, smart Texas A&M chasing corps, as she's been getting more touches in more place on the field than before. A play from the Wolf Pack Classic finals versus LSQC stands out. DuPont retrieved a bad, in-the-dirt pass and as she was about to get beat, threw a perfect no-look pass to the far hoops for an important goal. Having the field awareness and quick-thinking ability to find the open chaser in that situation was big.

B Scott Axel (Penn State)--Axel is the name you'll hear from much of the Mid-Atlantic if you ask which player is most valuable to his or her team. Axel has a commanding field presence and really puts opposing point players under duress. If chaser Jason Rosenberg is healthy by the spring, Penn State could end up being a really scary team to draw into a World Cup pool.

B Amanda Nagy (Lost Boys)--The transition from chaser to beater has been seamless for Nagy, who has brought her signature physicality into the beater game. The result has been lopsided bludger control time in favor of the Lost Boys. Playing alongside the likes of Seto, Lee and Mohlman doesn't hurt either.

C/B/S Brandon Scapa (UCLA)--Seeing video of UCLA from Western Cup, it's clear how much they miss beater Asher King Abramson. Keeper Zach Luce doesn't have the ability to get by a good opposing point defender alone, but once he does he's dangerous. So what Scapa has done this year that is so important is take the role of Abramson to free up Luce, whether it's with Abramson-style offensive beating or screens as a chaser. In addition, Scapa is one of UCLA's best point defenders, a vocal defensive leader at beater, and the Bruins' best seeker. Not too shabby.

C/S Kenny Chilton (Texas)--A summer after catching the snitch to seal UT's World Cup championship, Chilton looks faster, stronger and better at both chaser and seeker. With all of the Longhorns' graduations Chilton has stepped up very nicely into a bigger role at chaser while becoming the primary seeker.

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