Each week Andy Marmer and Jack the Phan will give you a brief, but thorough, recap of the IQA tournaments that took place the prior weekend.
Eastern Canada: Congratulations to University of Ottawa's Maple Rush, McGill University and Carleton University on qualifying for World Cup VII, and a special hat’s off to University of Ottawa's (UOttawa) Gee-Gees on earning the team’s first Canadian Cup title. For more on the results, see here.
Mid-Atlantic: Virginia Tech hosted its annual tournament, renamed the Kitty Cup in honor of former team president Kitty Schaffernoth. The tournament featured 14 total teams, seven of whom were official. In the finals the University of Richmond overcame the University of North Carolina (UNC) 160^-130* on a snitch grab by Brennen Lutz.
Due to time constraints, the tournament skipped straight from pool play to the semi-finals with Richmond earning the top seed; UNC the second seed; QC Carolinas (QCC), a World Cup VI qualifier, the third seed; and an unofficial squad from James Madison University (JMU), the fourth seed. UNC advanced to the finals with a 210*-40 win over its community team rivals, while Richmond advanced to the championship match with a 180*-30 win over JMU.
The seven official teams combined for just five official games in pool play, seven total. Richmond went 3-0 with wins over UNC, University of Virginia (UVA) and Appalachian Quidditch. UNC pulled off a 2-1 day beating QCC and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). UNC also managed a thrilling unofficial win over the DYNC Communists, a squad comprised of members of the NYDC Capitalists and George Mason University, 130*-120. QCC went 1-1 with a win over Virginia Tech, while Appalachian Quidditch also went 1-1, beating UVA.
South: The University of Florida (UF) took home the title at the Florida State University-hosted Renegade Cup, beating Florida’s Finest Quidditch Club (FF) 90*-50 in the championship game. World Cup V finalists UF did not have any of its matches decided by a snitch catch until the finals, with its narrowest margin being a 110*-20 victory over the University of South Florida (USF) in the semi-finals, as well as a 120-30* win over Rollins College in pool play.
Florida’s Finest reached the finals with a 160*-50 semi-finals victory over the Green Team, a mercenary team led by Daniel DePaula and Cole Travis, both of Louisiana State University, and Brendon Frisella, formerly of the University of Southern Mississippi.
UF used staggering defense throughout the day, keeping its opponents’ offense at a stand-still. FF, on the other hand, relied on its chasers for sensational offense, notching at least 13 goals in four of its six matches. The finals presented an intriguing stylistic clash, with the defensively-minded UF squad prevailing.
Southwest: Ten of Texas’ top quidditch teams descended upon the state capital for Lone Star Cup II. The talented Beto Natera already covered the first day’s happenings, so we will stick with bracket play.
The quarterfinals went as expected with the fearsome foursome of Texas, the hosts University of Texas (UT), Texas A&M University, Lone Star Quidditch Club and Baylor University all easily reaching the semi-finals. The defending WCVI champs, UT, took out WCVI qualifiers the Silver Phoenixes 130*-0, while the defending Southwestern champs also managed a 130-point win, beating Austin Quidditch 170*-40. Texas A&M and Lone Star each had tougher matchups but were able to handily beat University of Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) 160*-60 and Texas State University 150*-70 respectively.
In the semi-finals, A&M took out Baylor 150*-80 while Lone Star won 80*-30 over UT in a quick match that lasted under 12 minutes. The two semi-final wins set up a rematch of the Wolf Pack Classic final, with Texas A&M facing off against Lone Star. Although Lone Star’s beaters stepped up and were able to spend more time with bludger control, A&M earned its second Southwestern tournament title 110*-60 on a snitch catch by Kifer Gregoire.
West: Four up-and-coming programs descended on Santa Barbara for the Next Best West Invitational. The Santa Barbara Blacktips (SBB), Thundercats Quidditch, Long Beach Funky Quaffles (LBFQ) and Riverside Quidditch all attended the round-robin tournament comprised of many of the second-tier California squads who usually struggle against more established foes in taking home a tournament title. Instead of a clear next best emerging behind the Silicon Valley Skrewts, So Cal Threesome (University of California-Los Angeles, University of Southern California and Lost Boys) and Arizona duo (University of Northern Arizona and Arizona State University), the results yielded more questions than they answered.
LBFQ and SBB turned in the best day each going 2-1. Both sides trounced Riverside 160*-50 and 200*-50 respectively. The Blacktips overcame the Funky Quaffles 100*-50 but dropped a tight match to Thundercats 130*-100. Riverside earned its lone win of the day with a 130*-120 overtime win over Thundercats (there was no overtime snitch catch).
All Weekend That Was Team
McGill, Carleton and Gee-Gees Quidditch were strong favorites to clinch Eastern Canada's first three bids, but the final bid was widely considered up-for-grabs between many teams. We at the Weekend That Was like to recognize clutch performances, and Lafrance's day at Canadian Regionals was clutch from start to finish. Leading his squad Maple Rush, to a 2-1 pool play record and a semi-finals appearance, Lafrance scored 29 goals for an average of 4.83 goals per game. With a quarterfinals matchup against Canada's Finest standing in between Maple Rush and a ticket to Myrtle Beach, Lafrance turned in a physical and effective performance to take the last WCVII spot allocated to Eastern Canada.
Austin Carmouche of Thundercats Quidditch stole the show at the Next Best West Invitational. The Thundercats, who lost its first two games of the day, bounced back for an exciting 130*-100 upset of the Santa Barbara Blacktips. With star keeper Nebraska Huggins limited due to preexisting injuries, the small Carmouche brought an incredible amount of energy to the team. Catching the snitch against the Blacktips by flipping over the snitch's back was not even Carmouche's flashiest or most memorable play. With powerful Long Beach quaffle player Kyle Epsteen driving, Carmouche stripped Epsteen while doing a 360-degree flip and then, with possession of the quaffle, raced down the pitch and dunked. Lost Boys founder and captain Dan Hanson said, "Not since Vanessa Goh at Western Cup III have I seen a previously unheralded player garner so much attention so quickly."
Paco Darcey continues to score frequently as well as do all the little things for Richmond. Darcey is quick and aggressive, using bursts of speed to get by defenders, intercept passes or strip a quaffle. Richmond has more offensive threats to score than ever this season and Darcey is efficient with the quaffle, making him a go-to off-ball chaser. On a team that otherwise does not rely on a few specific players, Darcey can be counted on to get open and take a good shot when Richmond needs points.
With Baylor disappointing at Breakfast Taco and not attending the Wolf Pack Classic, Lone Star Cup II turned out to be the return of Baylor. Upsetting Lone Star in pool play 70*-40, chaser Beissy Sandoval was more important than ever in the Bears' offense with the injuries Baylor continues to cope with. Sandoval was always positioned perfectly and displayed great ball handling and passing.
Beaters--Jared Gaum & Elli Langford
With a new defensive scheme modeled after Texas A&M, UF beaters Jared Gaum and Elli Langford stepped up with a great performance. The Gators were able to run two male, two female and standard beating duos throughout the tournament to match its opponent's weaknesses. Gaum and Langford held bludger control against Florida's Finest showing fantastic communication and discipline. Also able to make key beats that opened up chances for easy Florida fast break goals, the improvement of the UF beating corps shows that the Gators are going in the right direction.
Texas A&M seeker Dirk Hryekewicz might have had the best tournament of his career at Lone Star Cup. The strong Aggie seeker caught all three snitches in pool play extremely quickly, and Texas A&M had an average game length of around 13 minutes. Hryekewicz's success continued on day two, as he caught the snitches against UTSA and Baylor in the quarterfinals and semi-finals, respectively.
Honorable Mention--Alex Richardson
Alex Richardson, a chaser for the Long Beach Funky Quaffles, was just edged out for an All Weekend That Was Team award at chaser by the flashier Austin Carmouche. Richardson is all-around terrific player, especially standing out with consistent physicality on defense and is a big reason why Long Beach is rapidly improving.
1. Brennen Lutz, a strong defensive chaser and seeker for Richmond, sustained a head injury in UR's first match of the day against Appalachian Quidditch. Lutz, who sat out for the remainder of pool play, was cleared to play in the bracket by an EMT and ended up catching the tournament-winning snitch against UNC. Looking ahead to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship on Nov. 22-24, Richmond President Jeremy Day said, "Lutz will need a bit of time off, but should absolutely be able to suit up for regionals."
The Spiders' injury trouble did not end with Lutz. Chaser Casey Schmidt took some head trauma against Christopher Newport in pool play and suffered an ankle injury that progressed in severity throughout the day. "When the tournament ended it was the most swollen injury I've ever seen," said Day. "There are very few people I know tougher than Casey though. So it's tough to judge where she'll be in two weeks."
2. The DYNC Communists were already expected to be low on depth for Kitty Cup, but an injury to keeper James Hicks' back made matters worse. Hicks, who tweaked his back last weekend, played very minimally. Keeping the defensive star healthy for Mid-Atlantic Regionals was the main priority. The Communists lost a pool play game to UNC and, because the quarterfinals were cut, did not advance to bracket play.
3. Kifer Gregorie, Texas A&M's standout chaser and seeker, was thought to have broken his thumb during the Aggies' 90*-0 victory over Austin Quidditch in pool play. The injury does not appear to be as serious as a break now, but Gregorie played through it, helping Texas A&M advance through a tough series of bracket play games. Despite the left thumb injury, Gregorie caught the tournament winning snitch against Lone Star QC with his left hand, securing a 110*-60 win.
Unlike Gregorie, several Texas A&M players suffered injuries that kept them out for the remainder of the tournament. Chasers Joe Wright and Luke Wigley were each injured in separate instances during the first pool play game against Austin Quidditch, and were taken out due to a minor concussion and a deeply bruised shoulder, respectively. Injury problems did not stop with the Aggies' chasing corps though, as beater Rachel Harrison bruised her tailbone in the semi-finals, rendering her unable to play in the championship game against Lone Star.
4. A new type of broom from Peterson's Broomsticks was debuted at Lone Star Cup and although many players liked the feel and look, there was quite a bit of concern about the safety of the blade-like front end of the broom. Lone Star chaser Simon Arends sustained a gash in his head from the blade end of the broom and had to receive four staples. Arends is a key playmaker for Lone Star and losing him in the semi-finals hurt the team's chances to upset Texas A&M.
5. In the semi-finals of the Canadian Cup between Carleton and McGill, Carleton seeker Martin Massie and beater Mars Neinhuis both went down with injuries. For Massie, it was a head injury, and Neinhuis injured her leg. Despite the injuries, Carleton was able to advance past McGill, the reigning champions, to play Gee-Gees Quidditch in the finals. With one of the team's top seekers gone and a daunting matchup versus the Gee-Gees, Carleton could not take the Canadian title.
6. Head injuries seemed to be a problem this weekend, with an abnormal amount of them occurring across the country. In addition to the Richmond chasers, Joe Wright, Simon Arends and Martin Massie, two Eastern Florida State players sustained head injuries at Renegade Cup, Virginia Tech's Chris Coleman went to the hospital after Kitty Cup with a head injury and two Maple Rush players suffered head injuries during brooms up. As someone who has compiled lists of injuries from tournaments for the past month, this many head injuries taking place over a single weekend is alarming.
1. The Simon Arends injury was not the end of Lone Star's roster troubles. Star keeper Stephen Bell, who came into Lone Star Cup sick, experienced terrible nausea causing him to exit the semi-final against UT after being Lone Star's off pitch seeker. On day one, Lone Star did not have consensus All-American chaser Sarah Holub, and, on day two, the team was without keeper Connor Drake and Alex De Nes. With Arends and Bell unable to play by the finals, and Drake absent, chaser/keeper Chris Morris took over offensive-point duties, played more minutes and performed terrifically.
The finals between Texas A&M and Lone Star ended up being a contest between two teams that were not entirely at full strength, but the absences and injuries kind of evened out.
2. Florida's Finest, who had been undefeated against all Southern teams except Miami going into Renegade Cup, was defeated in the finals by a much improved Florida team. However, Florida's Finest was without its first and second string keepers and female chasers. Austin Clooney, the Flamingoes first-string keeper, has been a major playmaker and contributor to Florida's Finest's offense and defense this year and has also pulled a few snitches. The first-string female chaser, Christina De Nicola, has continually put in key minutes fighting to keep Florida's Finest possessions alive with scrappy play.
3. QC Carolinas did not have keeper Jeff Lusk, chaser Rebecca Burke and keeper/chaser Katie Reid. Lusk, who is abroad this month, was in Britain for the inaugural British Quidditch Cup with the London Unspeakables. The Carolina community team won its pool but fell to UNC in the semi-finals by a score of 210*-40.
4. Richmond and UNC, who advanced through pool play undefeated and then won their semifinal matchups at Kitty Cup, both were missing key players. UNC was missing keeper Ed Bartels for the second major tournament in a row. Bartels, a dynamic and strong keeper, creates defensive mismatches and is arguably the scariest player UNC has to offer. Bartels will be at regionals, but after also missing Turtle Cup, the Tar Heel keeper has yet to play the best of the Mid-Atlantic. On the Richmond side, chaser Abby Hegarty could not attend. Hegarty, only a sophomore, is a rising star at the female chaser slot in the Mid-Atlantic.
Words from the Victors
Gee-Gees Quidditch--Canada Cup
"I feel so privileged to be part of this team," said Gee-Gees co-coach Rebecca Alley. "I've been the coach since the team started in 2011 and to see the growth since our first year makes me so proud of each and every person on the team...I think it's just a lot of hard work and a dedicated team who really, really wanted it."
Co-coach Adam Robillard added, "We have a very team oriented play style. There are very few individual efforts. Each player is always supported by another, which was so important offensively and defensively."
Texas A&M--Lone Star Cup II
"We were really rusty on Saturday," said Texas A&M captain Drew Wasikowski, whose team won the Wolf Pack Classic convincingly last month and are considered to be one of the best in the country. "We also weren't playing as a team and seemed unfocused. But by Sunday morning, I think we focused up and really played our game a bit more...As you can see, we barely made it out with a tournament win with all our big games being pretty close ones. The biggest lesson my team has taken from this tournament is how important constant conditioning actually is."
"I think we really just stepped up as a team rather than by position," said Richmond President Jeremy Day. "Instead of any one person or position carrying us throughout the day, we all worked well together. We had people playing out of position with little warning to cover injuries and illness, and i couldn't be prouder of the effort. Beaters and Chasers supported each other all day, and the beaters covered for the seekers tremendously."
"Our keys to victory against Florida’s Finest were our excellent teamwork and defense," said Florida head coach Tim Derrick. "Communication on field was spot on, giving no opportunity for Florida's Finest to surprise us with an offensive bludger or to sneak an open chaser behind the hoops. Our defense was difficult for Florida's Finest’s speedy chasers to penetrate...All in all, I’m extremely proud of how UF performed and look forward to continued success all the way back to a return to the World Cup finals."
Tweets from Toronto
Dan Hanson, Jamie Lafrance, Steve Minnich, Nathan Love, Beto Natera, Sean Pagoada and Tad Walters contributed to reporting.