Monday, April 14, 2014

Worlds Away From Kissimmee: Introduction and the University of Texas

World Cup VI was perfect. We understood the results. The best team won. The second best team placed second. The winners decisively beat all nine of their opponents, blazing a trail of dominant blowouts through pool play and bracket play. We got an amazing finals match between the two best teams--a match that I would show to anyone who asked me about quidditch for the next year. The World Cup's signature Cinderella team upset several highly ranked teams, igniting a frenzy of regional pride before falling to the eventual champion. The most memorable match, Lost Boys versus BGSU, was a match that even the losing team could remember positively. The crowd was active in all three Final Four games, providing energy for the teams to keep sprinting through the hot Kissimmee air and forming tunnels to congratulate the players at the end.

World Cup VI was a feel good story all around and it made sense. Although in sports, there are always winners and losers, the losers at World Cup VI either embraced their accomplishments and accepted defeat or used their elimination as motivation for World Cup VII.

A whole year passed. Summer fantasy season. An interesting fall season. Several regional championships. Winter fantasy season. The spring season highlighted by Diamond Cup. A quiet March. And suddenly, we're all in the strange town of North Myrtle Beach. Suddenly, Texas is crowned back-to-back champions.

World Cup VII was weird. The results toyed with my emotions and opinions, and I've been fighting to keep that from clouding my judgement. With physicality playing a bigger part than ever, teams that appeared to play more physically were cast as villains. Teams that played an easier pool play or bracket play schedule were cast as villians. The Southwest, the first region to contain both World Cup finalists since the Northeast at World Cup IV, was cast as a villain.

Emotionally, I've never had so many ties to so many different teams. The number of people that came up to me and told me that they loved my blog was truly humbling. I worked closely with an incredible staff of writers, who sacrificed their time and energy at World Cup to advance the coverage of our sport and paint the IQA World Cup VII website with fantastic game recaps. I wanted to see so many different people succeed in North Myrtle Beach. Having joined Facebook as "Jack ThePhan" after World Cup VI, I had never followed a team's journey throughout the entire season before. I had never read lengthy, emotional, post-tournament statuses before. I had never been exposed to players' World Cup expectations and their intense training regiments before. Watching heart-breaking snitch catches and one-sided defeats, I could almost hear the disappointed post-World Cup VII statuses in my head.

In terms of my opinions on teams, I've never gone into a World Cup with so much knowledge on the competing teams before. I've poured over countless hours of video, especially of elite teams, and attempted to analyze so much. Going into World Cup VII, I felt that I had a strong grasp on the abilities of contending teams. I thought I had it all figured out. 

My pre-tournament confidence was quickly shattered, timeslot after timeslot. I was repeatedly shocked by results, especially once bracket play started. As bracket play progressed, the lists of surviving teams grew smaller and deviated further away from my pre-World Cup bracket. However, I realized that very few teams had surprised me with flashy new strategies or freakishly athletic pickups. That's what made World Cup VII so confusing. So weird. Teams played like I thought they would, but produced results that nobody predicted. World Cup VII made me think "but how??" and "why this time??" and "what changed??" After controlling my emotion and examining the matchups, as well as injuries and other variables, World Cup VII can make perfect sense. And that's what I hope to do.

The first installment of my Worlds Away From Kissimmee series is below on the back-to-back champions, the University of Texas.

University of Texas Finish: 1st
The champions. The back-to-back champions. Weird to say, huh?

Almost immediately after Margo Aleman pulled the snitch for Texas to take their second championship in a row, I went into a state of denial. How could a team that I had essentially counted out of the race for the World Cup title have won? I denied that Texas had rightfully earned its championship. I didn't believe that Texas was the best team. 

Messing With Our Hearts
Leaving Kissimmee, the consensus of the quidditch community was that UT's 21 players at World Cup VI were the best roster ever assembled. It was a great feeling to have a team that we, as the quidditch community, could hold up on a pedestal. Texas was the clear, rightful winner and the perfect team to end Middlebury's dynasty. We celebrated their victory like we all bled burnt orange and marveled when the UT tower was lit in honor of their championship. With a growing sport, the community expected that the champion of World Cup VII would earn the same invincible aura in our hearts and our minds. The 2013-14 Texas squad did not. 

It's undeniable that emotion played a big part in why UT's victory at World Cup VII has not been as universally celebrated as their World Cup VI title.

As the weekend progressed, Texas was cast as the "bad guys" by spectators and players alike. UT showed off a highly physical, no-nonsense style of play (in the chaser game and the beater game) that was very effective. From what I can tell, at the beginning of the season, Texas brought in a horde of fearless, motivated players. Seeing the dedication of their newest recruiting class and knowing it would lead to success, UT's captains probably encouraged their new players to use lots of physicality.  
Photo by Monica Wheeler
However, when UT's first-year players debuted outside the Southwest, a region where high doses of physicality is the norm, spectators and players questioned the legality and rulebook-knowledge of the new faces playing for Texas Quidditch. While some of the criticism was definitely warranted, some of it was unwarranted. In quidditch now, spectators and players interpret lots of physicality, yellow cards and fouls as indisputable evidence that a certain team plays dirty. Dirty seemed to be the label Texas obtained due to a mixture of some illegal plays, but more so a bad reaction from non-Southwesterners to UT's first-year players. 

The bad reaction to Texas' physicality reached new heights during UT's semifinal against A&M. The two Texas schools, separated by only 100 miles, traded blows early in the game, living up to the game's high expectations with the entire quidditch world watching. UT played physically and A&M passed terrifically. The game had all the makings of a classic until Texas A&M captain Drew Wasikowski went down. In obvious pain, Wasikowski needed assistance to get off the field, all but guaranteeing that he wouldn't return.

At that point, the game was never going to be the same. The void left by Texas A&M's captain and star player could only be filled by giant asterisk placed next to the eventual result. After Wasikowski's injury, the quality of the game and how we will remember it went downhill at a feverish pace. Both teams began to play completely out of control and it resulted in serious injuries, high tensions from the benches, desperate play from both teams and a feeling of unease around the stadium.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
First, UT chaser Cody Tadlock suffered a violent fall and needed to be carried off the field on a stretcher. Tadlock's "hook 'em horns" sign provided some degree of comfort to the worried crowd, but that comfort was quickly torn apart when A&M beater Rachel Harrison went down injured only minutes later. Harrison also had to be taken off the field on a stretcher but was not able to give the crowd a sign. 

Between seeing players on both teams visibly upset and watching two ambulances leave North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, I could sense a bad taste in the mouth of the crowd. The back-to-back injuries and lengthy delays allowed the crowd ample time to form opinions on UT and A&M, but more so on the state of injuries and physicality in the sport of quidditch. 

Watching Texas in North Myrtle Beach, I saw the same glaring weaknesses that I had thought would eventually doom the team. I denied UT's championship because I couldn't believe that Texas had won the World Cup VII title despite the weaknesses. 
Photo by Ben Holland
For one, Texas' passing game was significantly worse than the aerial attacks of the 2012-13 Texas and UCLA teams and the 2013-14 Texas A&M and Lost Boys teams. Only a select few of Texas' players were able to execute an efficient passing game, while the remaining players resorted to bone-crunching, ground-shaking solo drives. Secondly, while the unit definitely improved from the beginning of the season, I didn't see domination from Texas' beaters. I didn't see a complete mastery of beating strategy or smart, calculating play like we saw from Jacob Adlis, Colin Capello, Lauren Carter and Hope Machala at World Cup VI. The Texas beaters were rarely in full control of entire games.

I've always believed that a superior passing game and a dominant beating corps were a necessity for success in quidditch and Texas flat-out proved me wrong. Having your prediction about a team at a specific tournament proved wrong is one thing, but having the basis of almost all your opinions about quidditch proved wrong is crushing. Naturally, I looked for explanations about why an inferior passing team with a proficient, but not dominant beating game was able to hoist the seventh annual IQA World Cup.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
In examining UT's games with Maryland, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas State, I found four "opportunities" that Texas seized. I put opportunities in quotes because a spectator or an analyst or another team would never view some of the following things as opportunities, but that's what they were to Texas. There was a clear strategic problem in the way of UT's World Cup title defense and something happened that either eliminated or neutralized the problem. And all due credit to Texas--the defending champs were able to seize all of the equalizing opportunities presented in order to unexpectedly win World Cup VI.

Texas vs. Maryland
Problem: Harry Greenhouse has a reputation for being one of the most dangerous seekers in the IQA. Greenhouse's seeking makes Maryland a very undesirable opponent for Texas, especially as early in bracket play as the Sweet Sixteen.

What Was Opportunity/How Was It Seized: Maryland was playing some of their best quidditch of the year and energized by his team's performance, Greenhouse could have pulled the trigger. However, Greenhouse did not play at World Cup VII due to an injured thumb. In dodging the bullet of an aggressive, clutch seeker, Texas did not have to shift their strategy or play defensively in the seeker game. Instead, Texas was able to rehearse their regular seeking strategy in preparation for close games against Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas State.

Texas vs. Baylor
Problem: In the Diamond Cup semifinals, Baylor beater David Gilbert applied heavy pressure to Texas' offense. The clear MVP of the game, Gilbert cut off UT's drives, forcing the Longhorns to pass around Baylor's effective zone defense.  UT suffered from poor passing execution, committed many turnovers and lost to Baylor in a blowout. Going into World Cup VII, Gilbert appeared to be UT's kryptonite.

What Was Opportunity/How Was It Seized: David Gilbert was injured in a collision with a sliding Margo Aleman on brooms up. While Gilbert eventually was able to return to the game, the stoppage of play required that Gilbert leave the field and Baylor inserted their back-up beater into their zone defense. With Gilbert out of the game and a less-effective performance from Baylor's back-up beater, Texas was able to dictate the style and pace of the game and jumped all over Baylor, going up 50-10. Texas held bludger control and drove right down the middle of the field on every possession, blocking bludgers before powering through Baylor's strongest defender, keeper Jacob Bruner. Texas hadn't looked so dominant against an elite opponent since the finals of World Cup VI. 
Photo by Ben Holland
The fact that Texas capitalized on a five minute window to face Baylor's defense without Gilbert turned out to be crucial. Gilbert re-entered the game and shifted the momentum in favor of Baylor almost immediately. Seizing bludger control, Gilbert and Brittany Ripperger were able to get into a deadly rhythm. The Baylor tandem fended off UT's aggressive beaters and put an abrupt halt to UT's offense. Texas' offense, including facilitator and captain Augie Monroe, seemed to be completely at the mercy of Gilbert's aggressive tactics. While Gilbert's performance was fantastic, he needed to press harder and take a few more risks to make up for UT's early 40 point lead. Gilbert created an abundance of fast break opportunies for Jacob Bruner and Trent Miller, but Baylor was never able to level the score and ended up falling out of snitch range when their male beaters shifted to the snitch.

Texas vs. Texas A&M
Problem: Texas A&M captain Drew Wasikowski has repeatedly shown that he can carry his team through adversity, providing both a calming effect and high levels of energy to his teammates at just the right times. Wasikowski is also a top point defender, a scoring threat and has kept his Texas A&M squad playing one step ahead of their opponents all season through his direction of the offense.

What Was Opportunity/How Was It Seized: The loss of Wasikowski to an early game ankle injury was understandably a sucker punch to Texas A&M's confidence. All season, Texas A&M seemed to be one step ahead of their opponents, but suddenly, with Wasikowski gone, UT caught up. Texas began to anticipate and intercept Texas A&M's passes and drives. For many minutes in the middle of the game (and even longer in real time due to the injuries), Texas A&M's offense was stuck at 50 points. It was almost as if the Aggies just slowed down. The College Station squad came antagonizingly close to goals, but because of the slightly decreased offensive pace, the closest UT defender had time to swoop in and deny the shots.

In the eyes of UT, Texas A&M was outside of their comfort zone. Texas A&M's "one-step-ahead-of-you" style of play had led to blowouts all season and without the emotional leadership of Wasikowski, Texas A&M might not have been prepared to face a new opponent (the World Cup VII semifinals was shockingly the first official meeting of A&M and UT of the season) on equal footing.  Texas A&M's bobbled catches and slightly-off passes allowed UT's defense time to recover. In response, UT collected turnovers and converted on offense. Texas A&M was built to play "one-step-ahead-of-you," not a back-and-forth slugfest. As they built a lead, it became clear that Texas was built to play a back-and-forth slugfest.
Photo by Nicole Harrig
Texas vs. Texas State 
Problem: After the emotional, physically taxing game against Texas A&M, UT could easily suffer a let down, even with the extra time to recover.

What Was Opportunity/How Was It Seized: I hate to be blunt, but going into the game, the opportunity for UT was getting to play Texas State. But we need to back track first.

To reach the finals, Texas State seized a couple of their own opportunities. Instead of playing (what would have been) a confident Lost Boys squad in the Sweet Sixteen, Texas State faced a regional opponent in LSU, who seemed to be content with a loss after their epic Round of 32 win. Texas State then avoided playing a team that could easily match their physicality in Michigan, who was eliminated by rivals Ohio State on a snitch catch. Finally, Emerson took out BU in the quarterfinals. BU was probably a better conditioned team than Emerson and maybe could have rebounded more completely before facing Texas State. All of the opportunities that Texas State seized led to a big opportunity for UT. Instead of facing BU or the Lost Boys, the only thing standing in the way of Texas' second straight World Cup title was a team they had destroyed 160*-10 at Diamond Cup.

The final "opportunity" presented to Texas, a date with Texas State in the World Cup finals, proved to be the most difficult. Texas State showed immediately that they were a completely different team than the squad UT mawled two months before arriving in North Myrtle Beach. As Texas State jumped ahead 20-0 and maintained a lead throughout the seeker floor, whispers began to circulate around the fields...could Texas State really win the World Cup? 
Photo by Monica Wheeler
The answer was no. Although it took some time and Texas State fought valiantly, UT eventually figured out and took advantage of Texas State's mediocre passing game. Turning Texas State's turnovers into goals, Texas went on a 60-0 run. Goals by Eric Reyes and Tyrell Williams kept Texas State within striking distance of overtime, but ending what could have been an exciting struggle to stay in snitch range, the snitch was caught quickly by Aleman.

Came and Took It
After flying out of Myrtle Beach, returning to my regular high school routine and beginning my spring break, I've concluded that some people will separate their emotions and pre-World Cup opinions from the results of World Cup VII and some will not. While emotion and opinions are a huge part of sports, I'm going to try to let go of the parts that might cloud my judgement as a writer. Texas cleaned up opportunity after opportunity and earned their second consecutive World Cup title. Setting the stage for an exciting 2014-15 season, Texas seems to have a very good chance to defend their back-to-back titles in their hometown of Austin, TX at World Cup VIII. 
Photo by Ben Holland

Saturday, April 12, 2014

World Cup VII Portfolio

Hi Everyone!
Below I've posted everything I wrote during the weekend of World Cup VII. I think of my blog as my personal writing portfolio and since I wrote so much last weekend, I wanted to make sure my World Cup VII writing ended up here.

And I can't publish these articles on my blog without thanking the IQA's copy editors for catching my usual plethora of grammar/spelling mistakes, Logan Anbinder for constant support last weekend, Amanda Dallas for leading the heavy task of preparation for World Cup VII and Andy Marmer and Lindsay Garten for being the final editors, posting all the articles and even creating the titles. Also, many other awesome writers took time out of their World Cup VII weekend to write phenomenal articles in the same format as these. Check out their writing too at!

World Cup VII Championship: University of Texas vs. Texas State University
World Cup VII Semifinal: Texas State University vs. Emerson College
World Cup VII Semifinal: University of Texas vs. Texas A&M University
World Cup VII Quarterfinal: University of Texas vs. Baylor University
World Cup VII Round of 32: Louisiana State University vs. Lost Boys QC
World Cup VII Play-In Round: Multiple Games Included
World Cup VII Pool Play: Texas A&M University vs. University of Kansas
World Cup VII Pool Play: Bowling Green State University vs. University of Florida
World Cup VII Pool Play: NYDC Capitalists vs. Austin Quidditch
World Cup VII Pool Play: University of Miami vs. Macaulay Honors College
World Cup VII Pool Play: Santa Barbara Blacktips vs. NYDC Capitalists
Plus the World Cup VII Opening Ceremonies

Texas Two Step: University of Texas Repeats As World Cup Champions

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. (
Photo by Ben Holland
Capturing its second consecutive World Cup championship, the University of Texas (UT) defeated Texas State University by a score of 130*-70 in the finals of World Cup VII. Margo Aleman, one of the many newcomers to Texas Quidditch, caught the snitch to complete UT’s title defense.

The game began with Texas State, who defeated Emerson College in the semifinals, firmly in control. Chaser Tyrell Williams, a standout for Texas State all tournament long, scored the first goal of the game, spectacularly spinning past UT defenders, while teammate Richard Kemp added two goals and an assist of his own. UT mustered two goals during this early portion of the game on a goal and an assist from keeper and Captain Augustine Monroe, bringing the score to 40-20 in Texas State’s favor.
Meanwhile, the beater game was wild and scrappy. Assistant referees issued multiple yellow cards to beaters from both teams, resulting in many changes of bludger control.
Photo by Ben Holland
As the game progressed, Texas State’s passing deteriorated heavily. Monroe was able to intercept several Texas State passes and Texas State’s turnovers soon outnumbered its goals. With the score at 50-30, UT exploded for six consecutive goals to put Texas State out of snitch range. During this critical stretch of the World Cup final, UT continued to make key stops on defense, holding Texas State at 50 points.

With the snitch catch looming, Eric Reyes pulled Texas State back within 30 points, but Aryan Ghoddossy responded for UT, scoring a goal in transition. Although a Tyrell Williams fast break goal put Texas State in snitch range again, UT seeker Margo Aleman was clearly putting heavy pressure on the snitch, who had returned to the pitch. Aleman dove several times, using a long wingspan to come within inches of the snitchsock. Finally, Aleman ripped the snitchsock from snitch Tanner Morris and with no beaters around, the snitch referee signaled “good” immediately.

In addition to giving UT its second World Cup Championship, the win against Texas State improved UT to 9-0 at World Cup VII and gave it its first tournament victory of the season. Texas State fell to 7-2 for the tournament but exceeded all expectations by advancing to the World Cup finals.
Photos by Ben Holland

Reyes Leads Texas State Past Emerson

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. (
megan.atkinson.emerson.texas state065
Photo by Megan Atkinson
In the second semifinal between two surprise semifinalists, No. 15 seeded Texas State University pulled away from No. 6 seeded Emerson College to win 170*-80. Texas State’s Eric Reyes scored four goals and caught the snitch, adding to his terrific Team USA resume.

Emerson began the game on a 20-0 run much to the delight of the pro-Emerson crowd, but Texas State chaser Tyrell Williams responded with two goals to level the score before Reyes put the Southwest squad ahead. Despite an Emerson goal that tied the score at 30, Texas State dominated the next portion of the game. Texas State’s point defenders shut down Emerson keeper David Fox, who was unable to drive through the middle of the field. As a result, Texas State led 60-30 after 10 minutes of play. Texas State then scored three goals in a row and seemed to be in complete control.
Nicole Harrig - Emerson x Texas State Semi 5
Photo by Nicole Harrig
However, Emerson made a valiant effort to fight back. The first Northeast team to make the Final Four since Middlebury College at World Cup V scored three goals as Texas State missed offensive opportunities. Emerson recovered Texas State rebounds and prevented Texas State from getting second chance points. After several close missed goals, Emerson pulled into snitch range at 100-70 and the crowd roared, sensing the chance for Emerson to make the World Cup finals.
From there, Texas State seized control of the game, scoring four consecutive goals as the snitch returned to the pitch. Reyes caught the snitch with Texas State holding a 60 point lead for a 170*-80 victory.

Emerson’s thrilling run to the Final Four ended, as Northeasterners formed a tunnel for the Emerson players to run off the pitch through. Emerson finished with a 7-1 record, losing only to Texas State. Texas State improved to 7-1 and will face the University of Texas in the finals of World Cup VII.

Undefeated No More: Defending Champions Knock Off Texas A&M

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. (

Photo by Megan Atkinson
Giving No. 5 seeded Texas A&M University its first loss of the season, the No. 1 seed University of Texas (UT) advanced to its second consecutive World Cup final, winning 110*-50.

The contest began with UT and Texas A&M trading goals, with the stars on each team displaying fantastic drives and shots. Goals didn’t come in an onslaught though, as both teams played solid defense that prevented the other team from opening up the score. Keeper/chasers Augustine Monroe, Aryan Ghoddossy and Kaci Erwin stepped up for UT early in the game, each putting the quaffle through the hoops. Texas A&M captain and chaser Drew Wasikowski and chaser Daniel Gibson were important in the game’s opening minutes. However, Wasikowski went down with an ankle injury and Texas A&M turned to lesser-known players for goals. UT’s beaters, a unit that struggled early in the season, were able to maintain bludger control and frustrate the Texas A&M offense.

This regional rivals game was very physical and the high intensity and physicality unfortunately led to two serious injuries. The lengthy delays disrupted the rhythm of the game and put a damper on the World Cup VII semifinals.

Following the second injury, which occurred with the snitch on pitch, Texas seeker Margo Aleman caught the snitch to end the game.

Texas will advance to play the winner of Emerson College versus Texas State University in the finals of World Cup VII.

University of Texas Tops Baylor; Advances to Semifinals

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. (
Photo by Megan Atkinson
Although the crowds flocked to field one for the Texas A&M University-Lone Star Quidditch Club match, on the other side of North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex, the No. 1 seeded University of Texas (UT) prepared to face regional rivals, No. 8 Baylor University. In an intense game where the momentum swung back and forth, Texas triumphed over Baylor by a score of 110*-40, keeping its title defense alive.

In what would turn out to be one of the game’s most pivotal plays, Baylor beater David Gilbert exited the game with an injury on brooms up and Texas exploded for five goals, all from different players. With complete domination of the half court game, UT annihilated Baylor’s famous zone defense without Gilbert on the pitch. To stop the bleeding, Gilbert re-entered the game, regained bludger control and prevented UT from driving straight through the helpless Baylor chaser defense. As a result, UT was forced to pass in the half court and the match began to resemble the Diamond Cup semifinals, where Baylor destroyed Texas. Baylor keeper Jacob Bruner and chaser Trent Miller were able to score twice on the fast break, bringing the score to 50-30. Texas scored once more before the snitch returned to pitch.
Photo by Megan Atkinson
With the snitch on the pitch, Gilbert subbed out and Baylor’s male beaters shifted to guard the snitch from UT’s efficient seeking corps. At first, the move didn’t hurt Baylor. Bruner drove the length of the pitch with multiple UT defenders attempting tackles before dumping the ball off to Beissy Sandoval for a goal. The goal brought the score to 60-40, putting Baylor in position for a game winning snatch. However, despite the valiant efforts of Baylor beater Brittany Ripperger, the absence of Baylor’s male beater in the zone defense allowed for Texas to score two key goals, knocking Baylor out of snitch range. With his team up 40 points, Kenny Chilton, who caught clutch snitches against UCLA and Texas A&M at World Cup VII, punched Texas’ return ticket to the Final Four.

Texas will play No. 5 seeded Texas A&M next on field one in the first semifinal game.

LSU Stuns Lost Boys

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. (

Photo by Monica Wheeler
Madness exploded at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex when the No. 34 seeded Louisiana State University (LSU) shocked the No. 2 seeded the Lost Boys Quidditch Club 100*-90 in the Round of 32.

With the power of what seemed like the entire West Region cheering on the Lost Boys, the first community team to ever win a North American regional championship was tested by the resilient LSU beating corps and star chaser Brad Armentor. Chris Seto, Michael Mohlman and Peter Lee, considered to be the best beating corps in the country, dueled with Jason Winn, Melissa White and Daniel DePaula, who brought a heavy dose of physicality to the beater game. Tensions flared as Lee was yellow carded for a hard hit that injured White. The LSU beaters opened up the half court for Armentor, who repeatedly collided at full speed with Lost Boys keeper Tony Rodriguez at the hoops and powered through for goals. Rodriguez responded with goals and assists, pumping up the strongly pro-Lost Boys crowd, but LSU forced the Lost Boys to play a half court offense, preventing the Lost Boys from opening a lead through dominant play in the transition game.

With the score tied at 50, Lost Boys chaser Vanessa Goh took down Armentor at half court, forcing a fumble. Jake Tieman picked up the quaffle and raced for a goal at the other end. Tieman added another fast break goal on the next play for the Lost Boys to go up 70-50. After Missy Sponagle appeared to recover a missed LSU shot, a scrum formed behind the hoops and players on both teams exchanged shoves. LSU chaser Jordan Earls received a second yellow card and Lost Boys chaser Mitch Cavender also received a yellow card.

Steve DiCarlo and Winn, who switched to seeker, pursued the snitch, who raced around the edges of the pitch, avoiding lengthy exchanges with the seekers. Beaters struggled to defend the mobile snitch from the opposing seekers and there were several heart-wrenching close attempts at snatches. Winn caught the snitch before a stunned crowd, hoisting it above his head as the refs conferenced. Finally, the catch was declared good and the Lost Boys, a tournament favorite, were eliminated.

LSU advances to the Round of 16 where they will take on Texas State University.

First Round Recap

Originally appeared on on April 6, 2014. Parts written by Sarah Goad, Luke Sam and Nathan Love were omitted. (

Sunday morning marked the beginning of World Cup bracket play. With 48 teams qualifying for the bracket, the 32 lowest seeds were forced to win a first round game to advance to the Round of 32.
Photo by Monica Wheeler

In a rematch of a shocking pool play upset, the No. 38 seeded University of Miami snuck by the No. 27 seeded Utah Crimson Fliers in an intense game. Miami jumped out to an early lead and hovered around snitch range for the first ten minutes. However, Utah was aided by bludger control and fought back into the game, bringing the score to 60-50. After a couple of false snatches, a snitch catch by Miami was confirmed and the Southern Regional Champions avenged their pool play loss.
Photo by Hannah Huddle

No. 37 seeded Northern Arizona University fell to No. 28 seeded Ball State University 100-90* due to an accidental suicide snatch by Northern Arizona’s Porter Marsh in a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. As Ball State attempted to pull out of snitch range of the World Cup VI quarterfinalists, chaser Tyler Walker put the Midwestern squad on his back by scoring multiple goals in transition. After an apparent miscommunication, Marsh pulled the trigger at the wrong time, killing his own team the way he eliminated several teams in bracket play last year.
megan.atkinson penn state sharks075
Photo by Megan Atkinson

No. 29 seeded Penn State University defeated the No. 30 seeded Santa Barbara Blacktips 100*-70. The game started out evenly matched, but it quickly became apparent that the Blacktips’ defense was full of holes. Perhaps tired from playing in the grueling Pool of Death yesterday, big shot blocks from Ren Bettendorf in bludgerless situations and blown Penn State opportunities were the only things keeping Santa Barbara in the game. Beater Andy Abayan subbed in with the snitch on the pitch and briefly got things under control, but eventually, Penn State’s depth overpowered the Blacktips’ seeker game.
Photo by Isabella Gong
On the Championship Field, the No. 39 seeded Arizona State University and the No. 20 seeded Tennessee Tech University met in a game that quickly deteriorated. Both teams displayed a desperate kind of play that brings out the best in the spirit of quidditch teams, but the worst in quidditch fundamentals. Goals materialized out of scrums and failed plays. With Tad Walters snitching, Tennessee Tech finally caught the snitch to secure a 120*-80 win and unlike last year, advance past the play-in round.

At the beginning of the first round game between Northeast foes the No. 22 seeded Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and the No. 43 seeded QC Boston: The Massacre (QCB), RIT’s chasers blew up QCB’s sophisticated plays with ground shaking hits. Keeper Victor Viega and chaser Kedzie Teller responded with big hits on defense and connected for two quick goals. Beater Sheldon Bostic regained bludger control after serving a penalty and shut down the frustrated RIT offense. The momentum swung in QCB’s favor as the snitch returned to the pitch. A Kedzie Teller goal put QCB up 50-20 and the score remained the same until RIT utility Shane Hurlbert caught the snitch to send the game to overtime. With Hurlbert in at seeker for RIT again, RIT punched its ticket to the Round of 32 in overtime.

On the field next to QC Boston-RIT, another Snow Belt team, No. 44 seeded University of Rochester, forced overtime against the No. 21 seeded University California-Los Angeles (UCLA). UCLA keeper Zach Luce controlled the pace of the game, playing slow and breaking into transition at all the right times. However, Luce’s long shots were off, UCLA’s half court passing fell apart and Rochester was able to stay in snitch range. Bludger control was seized and lost by both teams, but UCLA had two bludgers for the majority of the time. Ultimately, UCLA’s bludger control gave its seekers better chances in overtime and UCLA avoided a loss, advancing to the Round of 32 with a 100^-50* win.
Photo by Megan Atkinson
The No. 20 seeded University of Kansas defeated the No. 45 seeded New York University by a score of 160*-60, keeping distance over NYU for the majority of the game. Kansas frequently used two male beater sets with Samy Mousa and Doug Whiston, who dueled with NYU captain and beater Kyle Jeon. NYU’s controlled, systematic and non-panicked possessions challenged the Kansas beaters and defense, much like how Kansas challenged Texas A&M University during pool play. NYU pulled into snitch range twice, at 60-30 and 80-50, but Kansas’ chasers and keepers drove consistently, taking the ball right to the hoops and converting opportunities.

A&M Survives Upset-Minded Kansas

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

No. 1 Texas A&M University withstood a major scare from an upset-hungry University of Kansas team, prevailing 50*-30. Despite the surprise attendance of Kansas phenom seeker Keir Rudolph, Texas A&M’s seeking corps had better opportunities, with veteran seeker Luke Wigley securing the game-winning pull.

Facing a game against the undefeated and seemingly invincible Texas A&M, Kansas devised a game plan to slow the game down and extend its offensive possessions for as long as possible. The Kansas game plan was executed nearly to perfection: it dominated the time of possession and limited the number of Texas A&M possessions to only seven, according to an estimate by A&M Captain Drew Wasikowski. In a post-game interview, Wasikowski referenced how Texas A&M relies on using its conditioning, athleticism and depth to maintain a successful fast-paced transition game. Using all 21 players to fly up and down the field, Texas A&M would normally be able to outclass a team like Kansas after five-to-ten minutes.

Combined with Kansas’ strategic stalling on the offensive end, quite a few lengthy stoppages for injuries and rule-breaking prevented Texas A&M from getting into its normal rhythm. Uncharacteristically of Texas A&M, the Aggies also showed sub-par finishing ability as Kansas stuffed the World Cup VII favorites repeatedly at the hoops. In what might have saved Texas A&M from day one embarrassment, the Aggies were able to use their goals and other big plays as motivation, showing much emotion beneath the lights of field one.

Perhaps missing an opportunity, Kansas’ dual point guard system led to more lengthy possessions than goals. As Kansas’ point guards switched the point of attack and waited for an opening to be detected in Texas A&M’s defense, the A&M defense rotated and switched perfectly, holding Kansas to only 30 points.

Texas A&M will play next in the Round of 32, having received a bye for winning Pool Three and going 4-0. Kansas, who narrowly beat University of Richmond to ensure a 3-1 record, will participate in the play-in round.

BGSU Overcomes Florida in Overtime Thriller

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

In a thrilling, marathon game, Bowling Green State University (BGSU) traded blows with the University of Florida (UF), before Sam Roitblat caught the snitch with eight seconds left in overtime for a 170^*-140 victory. Roitblat, who also caught the snitch after 25 minutes and 40 seconds of regulation to force overtime, seemed to struggle with the mobile, agile snitch and the UF beating corps prior to making his two incredibly clutch catches.

In the first few minutes of the game, UF jumped out to a 30-0 lead, scoring three goals in rapid succession before BGSU was able to slow the Gator offense. However, BGSU’s offense continued to struggle due to poor passing and the Midwest Regionals Champions only brought the game within snitch range after about 10 minutes. That turned out to be the cue for the snitch to return to the pitch and Roitblat to sprint onto the field, but as previously mentioned, the snitch’s evasive tactics foiled Roitblat and the rest of BGSU and Florida’s seekers.

The stalemate in the snitch game allowed for Dan Daugherty and Dre Clements to drive up the scores with spectacular goals as the breakout stars from the last two World Cup’s dueled in a bout of one-upsmanship, but BGSU remained behind. Florida then scored two quick goals to go up 110-70 and pull out of snitch range. The game dragged on with several injuries, several stoppages and few goals, until finally, BGSU scored to bring the score to 120-90 and Roitblat struck. With a no-nonsense approach, BGSU and Florida went immediately into huddles, preparing for overtime.
BGSU got off to a slow start in overtime as Daugherty repeatedly failed to connect with BGSU chaser Sam Elgin behind the hoops. Compensating for his offensive struggles early in overtime, Daugherty made essential stop after essential stop in the keeper zone to keep the game knotted at 120. When Florida, a team more physical than most expected, finally powered through Daugherty for a goal, the BGSU star responded at the other end with a goal.

Setting the stage for a frantic finish, Florida scored with 30 seconds left. With BGSU advancing down the field, Roitblat closed in on the elusive snitch. In back-to-back plays, Daugherty leveled the score at 140 and Roitblat snagged the victory, as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

In a post game interview, Daugherty alluded to his team’s resilience, highlighting how BGSU was able to fight back from deficits of 30-0, 110-70 and 140-130. When asked where the Florida match would rank in relation to BGSU’s other dramatic games during the past two seasons, Daugherty said either second or third, only putting BGSU’s epic quarterfinal against the Lost Boys at World Cup VI ahead.

BGSU improved to 2-0 and the World Cup VI semifinalists won their appeal to replay their game against the University of Virginia (UVA) (which was originally a loss) from the time the snitch returned to the pitch. Florida fell to 2-1 and will need to find the energy to face Hofstra on field five at 6:20 p.m. The dramatic victory puts BGSU squarely in the Pool 16 driver’s seat pending the conclusion of its match with UVA.

NYDC Rebounds With Win Over Austin Quidditch

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

In a matchup that pitted two 0-1 teams against each other in the difficult “pool of death,” the NYDC Capitalists got back on track after a disappointing loss to the Santa Barbara Blacktips, with a 110*-80 victory over Austin Quidditch (AQ). Seeker Freddy Varone, who was highlighted as NYDC’s underrated player in the Capitalists’ March to Myrtle, caught the snitch to break the 80-80 tie and give NYDC its first victory of the day.

NYDC’s defense came out strong against AQ, displaying the alertness and precise rotations that  the squad lacked against Santa Barbara. However, Jonah Wagoner and Jeremy Avelar used the fast break to keep AQ within snitch range of the Capitalists, converting goals at key times. AQ held bludger control for a majority of the game, using a conservative beating strategy to prevent NYDC from regaining the third bludger. Despite AQ’s bludger control, NYDC had a solid individual performance from beater Michael Musatow, a mid-season transfer from Virginia Commonwealth University. The intense, back-and-forth game was capped by Varone’s snatch on “pink-haired-snitch” Kyle Carpenter.

“We [have] just got to learn how to catch the snitch,” said Nathan Vest, captain of Austin Quidditch. “Same result twice today…We’ll never be able to win games if we can’t do that.”

The match against AQ was NYDC’s first game of the season against a team from the Southwest, a region with a reputation for being physical. The Capitalists underperformed in the physicality department against the Santa Barbara Blacktips, but the Mid-Atlantic community team responded well to AQ’s hard-hitting style of play, dishing out their usual dose of physicality.

“We played like NYDC,” said Amanda Dallas, captain of the NYDC Capitalists and IQA editorial manager. “[In] the Santa Barbara game we weren’t ourselves and this game we played like NYDC.”

Austin Quidditch, who dropped its first game against Michigan 90*-50, will face elimination against the Santa Barbara Blacktips on field eight at 6 p.m.

“Looking forward to Santa Barbara,” Vest said, “[which] is a very, very talented team, we’ve just got to do everything we did beater-wise and chaser-wise [against NYDC] and then bring our seeker game up.”

NYDC improved 1-1, notching a vital first World Cup VII victory, and will play cross-town rivals the New York Badassilisks at 5 p.m. on field five.

Moyer Lifts Miami Over Macaulay

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

In a pool one matchup, the Southern Regional Champions, the University of Miami, narrowly escaped Macaulay Honors College Marauders by a score of 60*-10. After only 11 minutes and 21 seconds  of gameplay, Miami seeker David Moyer caught the snitch to seal the victory.

The game began as a defensive struggle. Macaulay was carried by key beats on the defensive end and bludger catches on the offensive end, especially from Shenuque Tissera. Stephen Ralph and Bernard Berges, both of Miami, displayed excellent shot blocking that repeatedly denied Macaulay goals. Both teams failed to capitalize on opportunities, with Miami struggling to punch the quaffle in near the hoops. Both teams scored their first goals with one player advantages due to yellow cards. When the snitch returned to the pitch, the score was 30-10 in Miami’s favor. Moyer’s game-winning snatch did not prevent Miami from expressing their disappointment with the mediocre performance.

“Macaulay has little better beating than we expected” said Miami captain Sean Beloff. “Our beaters have been training for a while but we’re a team of mostly freshmen and sophomores so we’re a little inexperienced.”

Anchoring the Miami beating corps was beater Shannon Moorhead, who made her first appearance in a competitive game since breaking her collarbone at Swamp Cup. Moorhead played well in her return, doing all she could with one bludger, but Macaulay’s beating was more consistent throughout the entire game and stopped more scoring chances.

“We didn’t get into our style,” said Beloff. “We just tried to rush too much.”

“We work on beating a lot,” said Tissera, Macaulay’s captain. “We’re not one of the biggest teams here, but we do have great beaters and pretty good depth at that position.”

Macaulay attempted to contest the result because the snitch was handicapped immediately after returning to the field, but the appeal was denied by the IQA gameplay department.

Miami and Macaulay are both currently 1-1, as Miami lost to the Utah Crimson Fliers and Macaulay defeated Eastern Michigan. Miami plays Eastern Michigan next on field two at 4:20 p.m. and Macaulay faces the upset-hungry Crimson Fliers at 5:40 p.m. on field two.

Blacktips Stomp NYDC

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

With a dominating performance in the first major match in the “pool of death,” the Santa Barbara Blacktips knocked off the favored NYDC Capitalists 190*-100.

The game began with NYDC chasers Michael Parada and Steve Hysick connecting for a beautiful goal on the first possession, but things went downhill from there for the Mid-Atlantic semifinalists as Santa Barbara seized control of the transition game. Blacktips’ standout player Ren Bettendorf made several key tackles against fast-breaking NYDC players and chemistry between Bettendorf, Ben Harding and Chris Lock led to goal after goal for the Blacktips. NYDC’s transition defense seemed lackadaisical and defeated, and eventually allowed 160 quaffle points to the Western squad.

“It feels amazing,” said Evan Bell, captain of the Santa Barbara Blacktips. “We put a lot of work into researching these teams ahead of time. [We] watched a lot of gamefilm to figure out what they were doing. It’s a really tough pool and we’re definitely taking it one game at a time and trying to watch our health and our depth.”

NYDC declined to comment after the game.

NYDC will have to move forward with an 0-1 record and without chaser/seeker Mo Haggag, who likely sustained a torn ligament in the knee. The Capitalists play Austin Quidditch on field two at 1:40 p.m. The Santa Barbara Blacktips, who go to 1-0, will face the New York Badassilisks at 1:00 p.m. on field nine.

Opening Ceremonies Kick-off World Cup VII

Originally appeared on on April 5, 2014. (

The International Quidditch Association kicked off World Cup VII in North Myrtle Beach with the opening ceremonies beginning just after 8 a.m. at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.

Prior to the ceremonies, teams and players gathered beneath the rising sun in anticipation. Finally, at ten minutes past 8 a.m., IQA Commissioner Alex Benepe began the procession, marching triumphantly around the pitch as the North Myrtle Beach Middle School jazz band pumped up the crowd with favorites such as the “Rocky” theme song. The enormous snitch corps followed Benepe, followed by the University of Sydney, the five Canadian participants and the 74-team, flag-waving American delegation with the defending champions from the University of Texas-Austin rounding out the procession. The snitches and teams then took their seats to witness the remainder of the festivities as snitches raced around the pitch carrying regional flags.

Tournament Director Sarah Woolsey next welcomed everyone to the World Cup and introduced North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, who enthusiastically greeted the teams. Then, IQA Commissioner Alex Benepe addressed those gathered, reminiscing about the first three IQA World Cups at Middlebury College. Benepe referenced the advancements in referee training and gameplay, before speaking about the spirit of the quidditch community. He argued that in the past year, quidditch has become more widely accepted and known because of the efforts of the quidditch community.

Benepe thanked the IQA volunteers and the City of North Myrtle Beach and declared “may the best team win the seventh annual Quidditch World Cup.”

IQA Gameplay Director Will Hack next took the microphone, recognizing Gameplay volunteers, including snitches and referees.

The Australian and Canadian national anthems were played and then IQA PR manager Nick Candido was introduced to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As players and spectators joined in, the lyrics of the American national anthem reverberated around the fields.

Woolsey closed out the ceremonies, declaring “let the games begin,” and the teams departed for their fields, ready for a terrific day of quidditch!

Friday, April 4, 2014

West's WCVII Expectations

"The West has almost nothing to gain and everything to lose at the World Cup this year. While currently considered one of the stronger regions in the IQA, many of the teams attending the World Cup this year are entering with multiple question marks surrounding their ability to perform well in their bracket. If the West can't get as many teams into the Sweet 16 as it did last year, it will be a major hit to the region's number of bids for WCVIII (considering how few the region currently gets due to number of teams). Many West teams have the parts necessary to accomplish deep runs; it's just a matter of getting the job done when it counts." --Evan Bell

Must Win Games
Santa Barbara Blacktips vs. NYDC Capitalists: Because of all the recent hype around the Blacktips and pool of death-mates Austin Quidditch, it's beginning to feel like a loss to NYDC, from the lowly Mid-Atlantic, would be worse than losing to the mighty Southwest's darlings for the up-and-coming Blacktips. I don't agree or disagree with this, but it sets up a must win game for the Blacktips against the Capitol Cup champs.

Silicon Valley Skrewts vs. Minnesota: Since winning the Big Ten-MAC Challenge, Minnesota's strategy, which involves putting a quaffle defender in front of all three hoops, has been labeled as everything from outdated to genius to too reliant on poor weather conditions. The Skrewts, who have traditionally used a slow playing strategy headed by Kevin Oezle and are extremely dependent on the success of its beaters, will now have another dimension to get by the Minnesota zone in Alex Makk.  

Lost Boys QC vs. Ohio State: Many Midwesterners and analysts (including myself) have suggested that Ohio State's passing game could be the Midwest equivalent of the Lost Boys' aerial attack. In their much anticipated match against Ohio State, the Lost Boys need to completely destroy this belief, demonstrate the superiority of their passing game and secure a top spot in bracket play.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Dangerous Games

West teams are favored to win but a surprise loss in any of these games could seriously damage the image of the region.
Santa Barbara Blacktips vs. Michigan: Michigan might not have the flair or technique that earns the respect of Western teams, but make no mistake, Andrew Axtell and Evan Batzer, who have both returned to Michigan's World Cup roster, have chemistry that rivals BU's Brendan Stack and Michael Powell. Bettendorf, Chris Lock and Ben Harding will need to show that their defensive ability is as good as their offense to beat Michigan and move onto bracket play.

Cal-Berkely vs. Virginia: Not much is known about Cal-Berkely or Virginia and neither team receives much national attention. However, World Cup VII will be Cal's third World Cup and Virginia's first. Because of their experience at the sport's highest stage and their region, Cal is favored in this game, but Virginia is coming off two tournament victories this spring.

Huge Opportunity Games

West teams are not favored to win but a win or even a snitch range loss in any of these games could vastly improve the region's reputation.
Long Beach Funky Quaffles vs. Arkansas: In their first World Cup, the Long Beach Funky Quaffles will be representing the top of the West's third tier. Only two months ago, Arkansas lost twice to a third tier Southwest team in Oklahoma State. LBFQ definitely has the opportunity to pass around a mediocre Arkansas defense, but players like Anthony Hopkins, Alex Richardson and Caleb White need to execute well and make plays around the hoops. Throwing some smash-mouth physicality at Arkansas will be vital for LBFQ also.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Arizona State vs. Maryland: The two pillars of Arizona State's offense, Ethan Kapke and Wes Rose, will be playing in North Myrtle Beach. The two pillars of Maryland's offense, Harry Greenhouse and Matt Angelico, will not. While Maryland's depth is clearly superior, offensive starpower can carry teams a long way at World Cup and Kapke and Rose have already led their squad to a regional championship finals.

Wizards of Westwood vs. Pool 8: I'll preface this by saying sometimes, I make very uninformed predictions...

I know I've joked about the whimsically named Wizards of Westwood, but upon seeing pictures of the UCLA B team, WoW could definitely have the athletes to make a couple of these games somewhat interesting. Even a win against Texas Tech, who snagged a deferred bid to World Cup VII at the last moment, would be telling of the West's depth and also the strength of UCLA's program. Either way, I doubt the pool's top three teams (UNC, Florida's Finest and CMU) will get the blowout they are expecting against the Wizards.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Cinderella Odds

Every World Cup produces a signature Cinderella story and several other prominent Davids that slay Goliaths. What are the odds that Cinderella will be from the West?

The West's chances to produce a major Cinderella team is one of things I've been thinking about a lot. In my opinion, several Western teams have "red flags" that have prevented me from considering them as a Final Four/Cinderella possibility. NAU's suspensions and small roster could hamper their success and the Skrewts' slow style of play could be easily turned into fastbreak attempts by good defensive teams. Instead, I like UCLA, Arizona State and the Blacktips as possible Cinderellas. All three teams have a keeper/main ball handle who can take over games using speed and vision (Zach Luce, Wes Rose, Ren Bettendorf), all three teams have solid weapons on the wings and all three teams have beaters that are very trustworthy with the snitch on pitch. With my Cinderella choices from the West, I know I'm going against conventional wisdom. Santa Barbara doesn't have depth or reliable seeking! NAU has Porter Marsh! I could be completely wrong. But in my World Cup VII bracket, (depending on matchups of course) I'll have UCLA, Arizona State and the Blacktips going further than other West teams not called the Lost Boys.

Odds: 3-1

World Cup Title Odds
What are the odds that a West team will hoist World Cup VII trophy?
The West's best (and maybe only) chance at winning the IQA World Cup rests on the shoulders of the Lost Boys. To win World Cup VII, the Lost Boys will probably need to go through two or three of the top tier Southwest teams. And the end of Sunday, it will come down to whether all of the Lost Boys' major contributors at every position exceed expectations.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Odds: 3-1

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Northeast's WCVII Expectations

"You'd think the Northeast did everything it possibly could this year. Stomp on McGill and Ottawa? Check. Go down to Turtle Cup and end up with an all-Boston final? Check. Send a mid-tier team into the Midwest to wreck havoc against its top tier teams? Check. And yet, there's still an air of doubt that surrounds the region. BU and Emerson crashing out of World Cup VI still weighs heavy. World Cup is the only place where that air can be lifted."--Ethan Sturm

Must Win Games
Emerson vs. NAU and Ball State: At the end of the fall season, this pool would have been the clear pool of death. However, NAU failed to break away from the West's second tier at the Gold Medal Invitational, lost several players to suspensions and will only be bringing 16 players to North Myrtle Beach. Ball State hasn't performed as well as they did in the fall either. Emerson, as the Pot One team, really needs to sweep this pool for the Northeast's reputation to improve.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
Tufts vs. LSU and Gee-Gees: While Tufts certainly didn't get drawn into a pool of death, they have a couple of big name teams on their Saturday schedule. The Northeast has beaten the Gee-Gees handily before and Tufts' strategy should be advanced enough to stop LSU. Considering where Tufts has fallen in the past few Eighth Man polls, these games are must-wins.

NYU vs. Oklahoma Baptist: A semifinalist at a Regional Championship always needs to take care business against a team that snagged one of the last few spots in another region. Playing Oklahoma Baptist is no easy match for NYU though and it could determine a bracket play spot. In the spotlight for NYU vs. Oklahoma Baptist will be beaters Kyle Jeon and Chandler Smith.

Dangerous Games
Northeast teams are favored to win but a surprise loss in any of these games could seriously damage the image of the region.
BU vs. Oklahoma State: While Austin Quidditch has gotten all the hype from the Southwest, Hayden Applebee's Oklahoma State squad only lost to AQ on a snitch catch in the finals of the Bottom of the Bracket Invitational. Oklahoma State springing an upset on BU, who has looked invincible in the Northeast, would send shockwaves around World Cup very early in the day. 
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
Macaulay vs. Utah Crimson Fliers: Macaulay will probably have closer games against bracket play locks Miami and Texas State than the Utah Crimson Fliers, but in a do-or-die game in the late afternoon, the Crimson Fliers will be fighting to continue their return to World Cup and extend their cross-country journey into bracket play. The Crimson Fliers' signature heart and determination will be tested against the fireworks of Macaulay seeker Andrew Zagelbaum.

Huge Opportunity Games
Northeast teams are not favored to win but a win or even a snitch range loss in any of these games could vastly improve the region's reputation.
Macaulay vs. Miami or Texas State: Macaulay wouldn't have to worry about a loss to the Utah Crimson Fliers if they could knock off Miami, the Southern Regional Champs, or Texas State, a team that perfectly embodies the smash-mouth, hard-hitting Southwest style of play.

Syracuse vs. Michigan State: I've said before that Michigan State's offense has looked dysfunctional and too reliant on long shots. If Michigan State struggles to get into a rhythm and the score stays low like I expect, it would set up a bracket play-worthy seeker battle between Jacob Heppe and Duane Ford.
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
QC Boston vs. UT: Higlighted as the toughest challenge of pool play for the defending champions, QC Boston looked to be on the rise at the end of the fall season. If point defenders Kedzie Teller and Brain Zhangi can shut down UT keeper Augie Monroe, the Massacre have a good chance to keep the score in snitch range. The community squad from Boston has to be prepared for a physical slugfest though.

RIT vs. Lone Star QC: Speaking of a physical slugfest, RIT will also be giving an elite Southwest team their only real challenge of pool play. The difference here is that RIT will be dictating the pace of the game. Lone Star's approach will be interesting to watch for--will they use superior passing skills and speed to go around RIT or will they attempt to out-hit and play more physically than the Northeast Regioinal Championship semifinalists?

UMass vs. Baylor: While UMass has no chance to defeat Baylor, I classified this as a huge opportunity game because UMass beater Robert Vortherms will get a chance to face off against David Gilbert and company. Vortherms' summer fantasy season stock could skyrocket with a great performance.

Cinderella Odds
Every World Cup produces a signature Cinderella story and several other prominent Davids that slay Goliaths. What are the odds that Cinderella will be from the Northeast?
I'm eyeing several teams from the Northeast that, if the bracket shakes out in a favorable way for the Northeast, could make a surprise appearance in the Final Four. Although they are considered a perennial power from Beantown, Emerson advancing to the a Final Four would be deserving of "Cinderella" recognition. With a tough zone defense and David Fox's crowd-pleasing fast break slam dunks, Emerson's tournament win at Turtle Cup really stands out to me as evidence that the glass slipper could fit for Emerson. At its best, Tufts can look like the Northeast version of the 2013-14 World Cup-winning UT team, displaying a well-oiled machine of an offense, terrific strategy and efficiency. QC Boston's wing chasers could create major problems for opposing teams with weaker wing defenders and by the looks of Glass City, Rochester seems to be peaking now.

Odds: 3-1
Photo by Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff
World Cup Title Odds
What are the odds that a Midwest team will hoist the World Cup VII trophy?
Although I listed several teams that I think could make the Final Four or the Elite Eight, I think only BU has enough starpower and consistency in the beating game to win the whole World Cup. BU's chances are slim, but out of any non-Southwest/Lost Boys team, BU has the best shot to win World Cup VII.

Odds: 24-1