During the coming weeks the IQA will be running a series highlighting the notable teams in each region and the big questions surrounding them.
Editor’s Note: Jayke Archibald, the IQA’s Northeast correspondent, is a member of Q.C. Boston: The Massacre.
As the 2013-2014 season begins, the Northeast region will be keen to make up for last season’s underwhelming performance at World Cup VI. With only two teams—Boston University (BU) and Emerson College—making it to the sweet 16, and only five others making bracket play, the region will have just 4.5 guaranteed bids at World Cup VII. Yet, with the largest concentration of teams in the country, the region should still procure a healthy number of bids, and this season will see the fight for those bids to be the most competitive yet. However, the landscape has changed drastically in the Northeast, and this year’s squad of world cup-bound teams may look very different from those of the past, leaving many questions to be asked heading into the new season.
How will many of the top teams deal with big losses to their rosters?
While this problem is not unique to the Northeast, it will definitely play a large role in the upcoming season. Emerson, New York University (NYU), Hofstra University, Tufts University, Macaulay Honors College and Harvard University are all losing their primary captain, as well as many strong seniors. Many of these players were three- and four-year starters for their teams and, along with their on-field abilities, also provided critical leadership and experience that will be sorely missed. How these teams can replace these vital skill sets and how quickly they can do so may be a large determinant of early season success and eventual chances of qualifying for WCVII.
Boston or New York?
For years these have been the two hubs of Northeast quidditch, with seven of the qualifying teams in the region last year coming from these two cities alone. Boston teams have traditionally held the upper hand, buoyed by the continued success of Emerson and BU, but last year marked a revival for New York with the resurgence of Hofstra, NYU and Macaulay. Boston’s biggest advantage is the sheer number of quality teams concentrated in one area and the nearly weekly matches these teams have against one another makes them all that much stronger and more prepared. New York’s main advantage lies in its geographic positioning, giving these teams exposure to established tournaments in Rochester, Boston, Maryland and Pennsylvania that usually draw the biggest and best teams in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Whether this continued interregional exposure can finally give New York a leg up on Boston’s challenging weekly schedule will determine which city reigns supreme this year.
Will the Rochester teams finally step into the elite category?
Last year showed continued improvement and success for the major Rochester-based teams, the University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Both qualified for and showed well at WCVI and are now looking to make the 2013-2014 season a three-city contest in the Northeast. Yet their location, both remote and very cold, proves a difficult place to complete a full and challenging regular season. Between long travel distances and harsh, snowy conditions for sustained periods of time, these teams have to find any means necessary to get in the required practice time and games, often moving indoors or playing in sub-freezing temperatures. With regionals in their backyard, both RIT and the University of Rochester will be looking to prove their worth this season and get into the conversation for regional superiority with Emerson and BU.
Will the Northeast finally shed its “weak” label?
Often accused of lacking physicality and having weak beaters, the Northeast as a whole will be looking to shed the less-than-satisfactory reputation it has garnered in the last two years. The first step toward doing this will be to travel to and play teams from other regions, as Hofstra proved last year with its trying and expansive schedule that saw it jump into the upper rankings and eventual pot one status at WCVI. The Boston teams are notorious for only leaving the area when absolutely necessary and met their downfall at the cup to teams that were much more seasoned outside of their own respective regions. Hopefully, all the teams with regional-champion aspirations in the Northeast this year will recognize the need to play varied opponents and travel to tournaments already being planned in Canada, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic. These tournaments are sure to draw the top teams from many regions and double as the testing grounds and measuring stick that the Northeast teams so desperately need. Otherwise, they will find themselves outclassed again at WCVII by teams that can adapt more quickly and easily to play-styles different from those of their regional counterparts.
Will the “old guard” miss out on the world cup yet again?
Last year’s regional saw the two oldest teams, Vassar College and Middlebury College, fall short of qualifying for WCVI. While Middlebury’s failure drew more publicity, it was Vassar’s that was perhaps more surprising, given that their level of talent had not severely diminished from that of the prior year as had Middlebury’s. These teams’ collective shortcomings last year proved beyond a doubt that the game of quidditch had definitely changed, and now it will be up to these schools to adapt to the new style of game. With their storied past and deep quidditch roots, it surely seems possible, but they will need great recruiting and hard work if they wish to see their names atop the Northeast once more.
Now that the most pressing questions facing the region have been posed, it is time to take a look at the teams themselves.
Boston University: With only a handful of players graduating, and none of them key pieces, this team looks primed to dominate the region once again and make a potential deep run at the cup. With strong returning captains who double as two of the best players in the region at their respective positions, BU will look to continue to build upon the success of the last few years. This team has a proven identity and style of play, which is a huge advantage, as it has something to rely upon no matter the score. Look for BU to continue its success within the region and put itself in position to repeat as regional champions.
Emerson College: No matter what the circumstances, this program just finds a way to win and be successful, year in and year out. This will be a challenging year, however, as the team lost a majority of its best offensive players from last year. Nevertheless, with a huge recruiting pool, driven captains and a large chip on its shoulder, this team should pick up right where it left off. Few teams will be as motivated as this bunch to prove themselves this year, and one of the closest-knit teams in the country will be brought together even further by their collective drive to win. This makes them even more dangerous than in prior years and a team no one will be looking to face come regionals.
Hofstra University: After a surprising run to third in the region last year, Hofstra will look to build upon its newfound success and name-recognition. However, this team suffered losses on par with Emerson, including nearly its entire chaser lineup. Despite this, the beater core remains one of the best in the region and should continue to anchor a defense that proved second-stingiest in the nation last year. As long as Hofstra can recruit some scoring punch, they should be able to lean on that defense during the season and make another splash at regionals
Tufts University: The third of the “big three” in Boston, Tufts gets the most out of its location by playing the best two teams in the region on an almost weekly basis. The team lost a few starters from last year but will be getting some key players back from injury, and, thus, should not see any significant drop off in talent. Tufts can hang with anyone when it puts it all together and will look to put its name in the race for regional favorite with some early season results against the likes of the other Boston teams.
Rochester Institute of Technology: RIT surprised a lot of people at the cup in April, easily making bracket play and hanging with the toughest teams in its pool. A very physical, intimidating team, RIT will be bringing back most of its talent and could look to bully its way towards the top of the smaller Northeast. They will be a tough draw at regionals and could surprise again by knocking out teams well above them in the rankings enroute to a relatively high finish.
University of Rochester: Perhaps the scrappiest team in the region, Rochester fights and claws its way through every game. Characterized by a notably strong beater core and chasers, keepers and seekers that flourish under pressure, this team has pulled off many upsets in the past. Unlike its RIT counterparts, Rochester’s players are relatively small, forcing a heavier emphasis on teamwork, heart and strategy to overcome bigger, stronger foes. Many are predicting great things for this team this year, and, with a little recruitment, they could shoot into the upper echelon of Northeast teams.
Boston Riot: Bursting onto the Northeast scene last year as Emerson’s “B-team,” the Riot will look to shed its younger brother status completely and take on a life of its own as a full community team. With a shocking WCVI qualification under its belt, this team has both the experience and appeal needed to recruit enough solid players from the area to really make an impact. The Riot will benefit immensely from another season playing against Boston’s best and should put that experience to good use at regionals, where it will expect to qualify again.
Q.C. Boston: The Massacre: The newest team in the Northeast, the Massacre has made quite a splash since it was announced at the end of last season. Already having recruited some of the biggest names from last year’s graduating class, and snagging a few underclassmen from surrounding teams, Q.C. Boston will be looking to live up to its hype and prove that a community team can be just as successful in the Northeast as the established school teams. The roster is still unverified and incomplete, so little is known about the makeup of the team and how it will stack up against the rest of the region. However, the Massacre certainly will be looking to test its merit against its more recognized Boston rivals early in the season and will hope to keep pace with these teams in order to find success later on at regionals.
New York University: NYU saw a resurgence of sorts last year, climbing as high as fifth in the region after a disappointing performance at World Cup V on its home turf. The team has lost most of its incredibly strong leadership from last year but the foundation left in place should be more than enough to keep this team in contention for a spot at WCVII. As one of the most publicized teams, NYU already has a good base for recruiting, and its success will be determined by how well and quickly the new captains can bring any new additions up to speed.
Macaulay Honors College: The darlings of the Northeast last season, Macaulay’s progression from brand new team to world cup qualifier in less than a year was impressive. Despite losing its captain, Macaulay seems to still be in good position to grow once again and will have a whole year of positive experience to look back on. As long as the team can play enough games to find its form, it should be able to repeat its success from last year, though any run at regionals will no longer be of the surprising Cinderella nature.
As the most concentrated region in the country, the Northeast has an abundance of teams looking to unseat those at the top. Vassar College has perhaps the best beater in the region and will hope strength at this position can carry it to a WCVII bid. Syracuse University just missed out on the cup last year and will be looking to avenge themselves with a strong fall campaign. University of Massachusetts Amherst will hope to find its way into a qualifying spot again, on the back of a revamped beater core that surprised many at regionals. State University of New York at Geneseo or SUNY Geneseo will also look to repeat as qualifiers, with an immensely physical chasing game and underrated seeking game that will take any unprepared teams by surprise. This will be an exciting year in the Northeast from top to bottom, and by the time regionals roll around in November, a challenging fall semester should weed out the contenders from the pretenders and give a glimpse of how this region can expect to fare at WCVII.