The teams of Texas assembled at University of Texas yesterday to prove who would be heir to the Southwestern throne.
Editor's Note: Beto Natera, a guest writer for the IQA, is a member of the Lone Star Quidditch Club.
Storm clouds gathered as the best of Texas assembled on the intramural fields of the University of Texas (UT). Flashbacks of the mud-wrestling contest that was the Wolf Pack Classic pervaded the conversations of those present on that chilly Oct. 19 day. The great state of Texas had other plans for her flagship quidditch tournament. A wonderful fall day set the stage for a wholly entertaining day of quidditch. As promised, the Lone Star Cup ran on time through the impressive efforts of non-playing tournament organizers led by Texas Quidditch president, Becky Schmader. Ever present, Schmader’s team of organizers ensured smooth transitions between games and fully-staffed ref teams throughout.
Asked her impressions of the first day, Schmader commented, “I think it went really well so far. We ran on schedule and even ahead of schedule for most of the day on one field. Games ran smoothly… and there weren't any major injuries so that's always a plus as well.”
Through the efforts of the tournament staff, teams were able to focus on the whole reason we play these tournaments, THE GAMES. With that said, let us look at how the pools shook out.
Ignore the hype. Ignore the 110-60 University of Texas victory. Ignore the UT snitch Catch. This University of Texas, San Antonion (UTSA) Road Runners team can play with the best of them. For proof, check out the 4:20 or the 5:00 mark (or any of the numerous plays UTSA made on an impressive UT defense for that matter) of the video below.
UTSA reminds me of the Texas team that showed up to World Cup V. Incredibly athletic and physical, simply lacking familiarity with the game. The field vision and game IQ’s of these UTSA players will rise over time. As of today, players 12-21 on the roster could not make the killer pass to slice open holes in the Longhorn defense. This same Texas defense only let in one goal in its two remaining pool play games, bending to the Silver Phoenixes once in a 180-10 romp. UTSA performed well in getting 60 on the board and staying within snitch range throughout. However, the general feeling was that UTSA underachieved based on their talent level. This team looked like a top tier quidditch team. UTSA clearly has the athletes. It is only a matter of time before the Roadrunners grab their first tournament victory.
Texas appeared dominant throughout its pool play games. The team demonstrated a consistency unseen so far this season. The beaters worked in harmony with the chasers, filling chaser spots on defense following beats and maintaining bludger control for most of the day. UT played the best game of any team on this first day in their victory over UTSA. The team had a clearly defined strategy of spacing the defense and using its strong chaser defense to create fast break opportunities.
The rest of the pool shook out as expected with the Silver Phoenixes notching a 130-10 victory over Baylor’s Osos De Muerte. The Silver Phoenixes started impressively against both UT and UTSA, making the game competitive for the early stretches until the depth of their opponents took over and ended the competition. UTSA had a bit more trouble, letting in a surprising amount of goals to both the Osos and Phoenixes, but cruised in its games.
OK, so I was wrong. However, I am going to take credit for Texas State’s impressive 2-1 record on the day. I clearly motivated the team and led them to victory through my inspirational column. You are welcome, Texas State.
Texas State dominated in a 230-40 victory over an overmatched University of Houston (U of H) outfit. As teams began showing up, I was impressed with U of H. Sprinkled with visibly athletic players, I expected a much more cohesive defensive and offensive strategy. Instead, Houston suffered defeat after defeat, letting in at least 17 scores in each of their three defeats. Do not let the score lines fool you though. Houston has the athletes to compete. They were just deer in the headlights. More experienced teams exploited the numerous mental mistakes made by the U of H team to devastating effect.
Texas State proceeded to provide Texas A&M with a stiff challenge for the early goings of their game against the Aggies. TAMU was still within snitch range at the time the snitch returned, with the score being 80-50, only for A&M to seal the victory with a snitch snatch.
A&M at times looked sluggish and lacking chemistry on defense and offense. There were flashes of its best form, but it could not perform at that level consistently throughout the day. A&M faces a tough path to the final with an early matchup against UTSA on day two and a possible meeting with Baylor in the semi-final. Its play must improve to secure victory on day two of Lone Star.
The big shocker of Lone Star ended up going down in pool three with Lone Star Quidditch Club (LSQC) losing to Baylor on a snitch snatch. Tied 40-40 when the snitch returned to the seeker floor, Baylor immediately caught the snitch to secure victory. Baylor’s high powered offense seemed to be clicking after their victory at the Cowboy Cup II in Stillwater, Okla. the previous weekend. However, despite winning the pool Baylor will be seeded on Texas A&M’s side of the bracket along with UTSA. An 8:30 a.m. matchup against AQ is all that separates this Baylor team with another chance to prove they have returned to the ranks of the elite in the Southwest. A game against either UTSA or A&M will go a long ways to determining where these Bears stand in the Southwest.
Lone Star again looked out of sync early. A huge 250-10 victory against the San Marcos Sharknados gave Lone Star a bye and a guaranteed spot in the quarterfinals of day one. While the community team gelled against the Sharknados, questions can be asked about their ability to produce the same form against top caliber opposition. Chaser Chris Morris impressed with physical defense and numerous WOW moments on offense. A quarterfinal matchup against Texas State awaits Lone Star. If Lone Star comes out firing on all cylinders, the team should make it to a semi-final game against hosts UT.
In all, play from the top teams was mistake ridden throughout. No team really performed to its full potential. Film from recent Western tournaments display a much more refined offensive game than what we have seen so far in the Southwest. I cannot begin to count the number of lost scoring opportunities by errant passes or dropped balls from wide-open teammates. The elite of the Southwest know how to properly position themselves on offense. As of right now, they are simply failing to execute. When teams like Texas A&M, Lone Star, Baylor and UT perform to the height of their abilities, they are amongst the most fearsome teams in the nation. However, they have all shown a penchant for having a bad game or two at any given tournament. The consistency displayed by the top teams last season simply has not been there from any one team during this season. Until a team asserts themselves as the top of the pack, all of these games will be crapshoots. That said, here are my picks for the second day of what has proven to be a wonderful Lone Star Cup.
UT over Silver Phoenixes
Baylor over Austin Quidditch
A&M over UTSA
LSQC over Texas State
UT over LSQC
Baylor over A&M
Baylor over University of Texas