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.
With two more regional championships under our belts, it's time to take a look at the West and the Mid-Atlantic to see what we've learned from a weekend of some surprises combined with business as usual.
Players to Watch
1. Arizona State University (ASU) chaser Ethan Kapke set the tone for the Western Cup V finals match against the heavily favored Lost Boys by winning the race to the quaffle on brooms up, blocking so his teammate Wesley Rose could pick it up the quaffle, receiving a pass from Rose, and then firing it through the hoops for the first goal of the game. Throughout the game, Kapke forced the stellar Lost Boys beaters to play at the top of their game with quick cuts and bursts of speed at the point. With Alex Makk absent on day two, Kapke and Rose formed a terrific duel point guard offense, demonstrating great chemistry. Besides his speed, Kapke's greatest weapon is a very accurate shot. In addition to a couple of key mid-range shots, Kapke drained a laser-like shot from close to the middle of the field, even with Lost Boys point defender Mitch Cavender wrapping up his legs.
2. A fact unknown to many before Western Cup, former University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) star players Alex Browne and Missy Sponagle had been practicing with the Lost Boys for about a month. Browne and Sponagle made their tournament debuts in black and red this weekend. Browne, a multi-talented quaffle player and Sponagle, a world class utility player, helped to continue the Lost Boys' dominance in the region. While the additions of the two former Bruins might only signify the best getting better in the West, Browne and Sponagle might be the final pieces the Lost Boys need to compete for a championship with bigger Texas teams at World Cup VII.
3. "[Anthony Cerrone] has a chance to become one of the next great beaters and will lead Nova for years to come," wrote Snitch Catch Off Pitch, a popular tumblr blog, this summer. The anonymous writers of Snitch Catch Off Pitch proved to be prophetic, as Cerrone had a fantastic regional championship tournament for Villanova Community Quidditch, helping the Wildcats to an unexpected finals berth. Cerrone is very systematic about eliminating dangerous passing options and can also pursue a point guard. Fitting right in to Villanova's scrappy defense, Cerrone trades off with Mathew Barrett, an athletic, aggressive beater. If Barrett can gain Cerrone's control, these two will form a great one-two punch in the beater game for Villanova.
Absences & Injuries
1. Chaser Jeff Lusk was missing from QC Carolinas lineup due to the fact that Lusk is studying abroad in Britain. QC Carolinas came together at the last moment at MARC 2012, and surprised by punching a ticket to Kissimmee. After losing key players to the NYDC Capitalists, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Appalachian Quidditch--all first-year, official teams who qualified for World Cup VII this weekend--QC Carolinas could not manage to qualify again. One of the few stars from last year's team not to switch to another team, it is debatable if even Lusk could've carried this team to a second consecutive World Cup berth.
2. Rutgers University had to forfeit a match against Duke University in the consolation bracket due to injuries that occurred mostly during pool play. Rutgers exceeded expectations in pool play, staying in snitch range of University of Richmond and barely losing to qualifier Steel City Quidditch Club by a well-timed goal and snatch. However, with a severely strained rotator cuff, high grade knee sprain, broken ankle, concussion and laceration to the head, Rutgers could not continue to compete for the Mid-Atlantic's ninth and tenth tickets to North Myrtle Beach. The forfeit eliminated Rutgers from World Cup contention.
3. Many Western teams were missing players due to various non-quidditch reasons as well as injuries sustained during the tournament. Among those overcoming absent and/or injured players and qualifying for World Cup VII were Northern Arizona University (NAU), UCLA, the Utah Crimson Fliers and the Long Beach Funky Quaffles (LBFQ). NAU chaser Luke Sanchez played minimally in the bracket with a hamstring injury that occurred before the tournament. Andrea Chau, a beater for UCLA, had an injured ankle and did not play. Both NAU and UCLA advanced to the semi-finals despite missing these good role players. The Crimson Fliers qualified for their first World Cup since World Cup V without keeper Alan Black, and Michael Aguilera’s knee injury did not prevent LBFQ from qualifying for their first World Cup. Boise State University star Stew Driflot tore a muscle in his thigh during his first game. Numerous other foot injuries and minor head injuries occurred.
4. The Lost Boys were without power chaser Jake Tieman at Western Cup. Tieman was the Lost Boys' second leading scorer at the Southern California Quidditch Conference (SCQC) Fall Tournament and third highest scorer at the tournament overall. Posting an average of 34 points per game, Tieman is a force in the middle and can slam home goals near the hoops. Despite lacking Tieman's inside presence, as well as beater Misty Gray who suffered a concussion during pool play, the Lost Boys rolled, improving their season record to 20-0.
5. Arizona State chaser Alex Makk, an Eighth Man selection for Third Team All-American in 2012-2013, did not play on day two. While the absence of an explosive player of Makk's caliber is surely not a good thing, Makk's absence allowed other players like Kapke and Rose to take on bigger roles. In bracket play on day two, the Sun Devils blew out a respectable Long Beach Funky Quaffles squad and then upset UCLA, before holding the Lost Boys within snitch range for the first fifteen minutes of the final.
6. An easy explanation to the unusual amount of points USC was giving up this weekend, USC did not have chaser/keepers August Lührs, Harrison James and Eddie Hays, as well as beater Nick Metzler. The Trojans won their pool, qualified for World Cup and advanced to the quarterfinals, despite missing four of their best players. USC has played at major tournaments before without key players, but at Western Cup V, the former Western champions looked nothing like the USC team that most people know.
7. Silicon Valley Skrewts chaser Tyler Barton suffered a scary concussion during the Skrewts' bracket play game against the Long Beach Funky Quaffles. Barton was taken off the field on a stretcher. After x-rays showed no head or neck damage, Barton was released from the hospital. Barton is cleared to continue playing quidditch in as soon as one week.
The Skrewts played yet another tournament without top playmakers Kevin Oelze and Greg Weber on the field. The semi-finalists from last year's Western Cup needed two come-from-behind wins on snitch catches in the secondary bracket to claim the eleventh spot allocated to the West. Oelze, the Skrewts' keeper and point guard, received a new diagnosis on a herniated disc in his back recently that kept him out of the regional championship. On the sidelines for Western Cup V, Oelze is planning on returning this spring.
Video from the Weekend
We were extremely lucky to have video uploaded from both Western Cup and MARC this past week. Check out some of the best games of the weekend that were captured on video.
Lost Boys 170*
Arizona State 70
In the Western Cup finals, ASU and the Lost Boys traded punches before the heavily favored community team pulled away. Video Credit: Amanda Turtles
University of Maryland 110*
Maryland and Villanova met in the MARC finals for the second year in a row. The last game of a chilly weekend in Leesburg, Va., four ties occured during the game before Harry Greenhouse pulled the snitch for Maryland. Video Credit: Erin Mallory I
Words from the Victors
"When I found out we were playing Villanova I was overcome with a wave of emotions," said Erin Mallory, Maryland president and chaser. "Of course I wanted to play NYDC but having the chance of redemption for last year was better than I could have asked for. Two-thirds of our team was not on that team last year but they knew how much this meant to those of us that were. Everyone went out and played their hearts out and as a president that's all I could ask for. I still cannot believe that we came away with the win. It was an incredible feeling and I was overcome with an incredible wave of emotion. Villanova is a great program and always plays amazingly. I'm honored to have played them in the championship for the second year in a row and can't see how both our teams do at World Cup VII."
Lost Boys--Western Cup V
On becoming the first community team to ever win an American regional championship, Lost Boys co-founder Dan Hanson said, "Oh wow, I didn't even realize yet that we were the first community team ever to do so. Making history is always something to be incredibly proud of."
Player of the Weekend
Maryland is a pretty deep team with terrific players across the board. However, one player stands out. Harry Greenhouse is a household name in the quidditch world for both his chasing and seeking skills, and at MARC 2013, he turned in another fantastic performance. What stands out about Greenhouse is his hustle and agression. When playing point defense, the instant Greenhouse is beat, he's sprinting back to the hoops and picking up the open player. On offense, although many players avoid engaging the opposing point defender, Greenhouse tears through point defenders sending the defense into chaos. With the yellow headband, Greenhouse is tirelessly physical, catching experienced snitch runner Rob Snitch in both the semi-final and finals. Greenhouse's hustle should be a model to a young Maryland team that I believe has the athletes to compete with the best of the Southwest, but currently lacks the explosiveness to do so.
Steve Minnich and Chris Seto contributed to reporting.