World Cup

March to Myrtle

The IQA staff brings you the ninth installment in our series on the teams of World Cup VII.

World Cup VII is quickly approaching and qualified teams are scouring the internet for information on their opponents. Here at the IQA, we decided to help you along and introduce you to the 80 teams you could face in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – Mid-Atlantic – Regional Finish: Quarterfinals
By Erin Mallory/IQA Mid-Atlantic Correspondent

First year official team University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) managed to qualify for World Cup VII at the frigid Mid-Atlantic Regional when it made the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, after it qualified, UNC had to forfeit the game due to injuries. But its run at the regional competition was still very impressive and an unofficial version of its team at the recent Capitol Cup showed that this new team should not be taken lightly. With a semester under its belt, UNC is here to try to make a statement in the next few weeks.

Chasing – UNC has a very strong starting line of chasers, specifically male chasers. This was made evident when many of them played for the unofficial NotUNC at the Capitol Cup. When playing against the teams there, after disposing of the point chaser, the ball carrier many times was able to drive a little bit in and take a mid-range shot that nearly always resulted in a score. It will be harder to make these shots with solid keepers defending, but the accuracy that UNC’s chasers have provide a great asset, especially because UNC does not have a player who stands out due to his or her size. Though lacking in size, the chaser line is certainly agile. Their quick cuts allow them to swiftly take those few extra steps in so that they can take a higher percentage shot without getting destroyed by the much larger keepers they will be facing. 

Seeking – Chris Champitto is more well-known for his snitching abilities and his reputation as one of the stronger snitches in the Mid-Atlantic. However, he should start becoming a household name when it comes to his seeking abilities. He has proven himself countless times, most recently at Capitol Cup when he caught the snitch over the University of Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse. With him being a strong snitch himself, he knows how to find and exploit a snitch’s weakness. Due to his insider knowledge, his team is lucky to have a clutch seeker who will ensure that UNC is a threat to anyone it plays if the game is within snitch range.

Depth – Although I stated earlier that the chasers are a strength of UNC’s, it’s a double-edged sword. UNC’s chasers are strong, but there is a significant drop off in the later lines. The starting lines cannot play all the games at World Cup. In these next few weeks, UNC needs to make sure that the second and third lines play just as hard and strong as the first. As made evident by Max Miceli getting hurt midday at Capitol Cup, his surrounding chasers will need to step up and bring UNC the wins.

Standout Player
Max Miceli – Last year he was a member of the Quidditch Club Carolinas, where he was able to play at World Cup. This year, his school team is official and he is here to lead it to success. His physicality and agility are two very strong talents that he brings to his chasing game. On defense, he will tackle anyone and go up against whomever tries to take him on. He is not afraid to take anyone to the ground, and he is able to due to this strength.On the other side of the pitch as a ball carrier, he can drive in on teams and make a high percentage of mid-range shots. His quick feet get him by some of the strongest point defenders and lets him establish his team’s offense.

901718_516638405101655_270393512_oPhoto courtesy of Nicole Harrig

Underrated Player
Lee Hodge – Only a freshman, Hodge brings an intensity to the team that is unparalleled. Like I stated earlier, many of UNC’s chasers love to drive in and he is the king of them. He’s not the greatest passer, but his ability to drive on into the hoops, through sometimes even three defenders at once, shows great potential. He provides his team with valuable points and his intensity can get his teammates hyped and excited to take on any competition. And even though his aggression can sometimes get the better of him and result in a card or two, he is a large asset to his team and his first World Cup should allow him to shine.

Keys to Success
This is UNC’s first year as an official team and it managed to qualify for World Cup. This is a great success for the team, but it also means that many of the players are inexperienced on the big stage. In order to succeed at World Cup, the veterans will have to carry the team and help the newcomers adjust to the varying styles of play that they will encounter. With strong chasers, UNC will have to make all those mid-range shots and give Champitto a chance to catch the snitch. If he’s given the opportunity, UNC could pull quite a few upsets.

UNC is in a tough position. As of March 6 it was sitting as a Pot Four team, meaning that it has a very strong likelihood of getting a very strong Southwest team in its pool. If UNC can get a good draw, then I see it moving onto the Round of 32 but unfortunately no further. If it can somehow move up a pot before pool selection, it will stand a much stronger chance of advancing to bracket play. However, due to its inexperience and current pot placement, I do not see UNC making it out of pool play.

Quidditch Club of Pittsburgh – Mid-Atlantic – Regional Finish: Quarterfinals
By Steve Minnich/IQA Mid-Atlantic Correspondent

Quidditch Club of Pittsburgh (Pitt) qualified to attend World Cup VII by advancing to the quarterfinals on the strength of its bracket victory over intercity rival Steel City Quidditch Club.  Pitt squeezed out a qualifying 170*-130 victory over Steel City Quidditch Club before failing to advance past a tough matchup against the NYDC Capitalists.

Lengthening the Pitch – Pitt is most effective in the set offense when taking advantage of this season’s new pitch dimensions. If given the time to set up, Pitt’s passes over the hoops stretch a defense beyond its comfort level, allowing its offense to create opportunities to slash to the hoops from either the front or back. 

Speed – With a number of small, speedy wingers, Pitt’s chasers are able to dance around the opposition. If it catches a defense being lazy with its beater positioning, one or two cuts toward the hoops make for an easy goal. If Pitt could pair this speed with more forced turnovers, this chaser corps would be putting up a lot more points on the break. 

Tackling – If it can’t spare a beater to cover the quaffle, Pitt struggles to contain an attacking threat. While the defense does well enough to step in front of passes, it really struggles at the point of attack and can be exploited by a good driver running the point.

Composure – Pitt struggles to maintain its best efforts on the field. If the team goes down early, the players need to find a way to pick their heads up and stick to their game without throwing the balls away on hasty passes or frustrated beats. On the other side of the scoreboard, Pitt needs to find a way to put away inferior teamsfor good. It has the speed to keep pounding on the scoreboard to ensure a cruising victory here and there, but too often lets a team hover around snitch range.

Standout Player
Kurt Rishel – Formerly the team’s primary quaffle-handler, Rishel has proven his value as a utility player this season while occasionally stepping in at beater. At chaser, Rishel’s speed is the engine for Pitt’s offense and he utilizes his playmaking skills to draw a defense in around him before kicking it out. Defensively, his ability to step in front of a pass is Pitt’s best shot at forcing turnovers and creating fast break opportunities, which he excels at converting. His ultimate value, though, lies in his ability to occasionally step in as a more physical presence in the beating game than any of Pitt’s beaters can otherwise provide. While his endurance enables him to go all-out for most of a game, Pitt would do well to utilize Rishel’s abilities at either position to suit its needs against a given opponent.

Underrated Player
Alek Keller – Despite playing for most of each game, an argument can be made that Keller’s talents at keeper are still underutilized. Defensively, Keller is able to use his length to snatch shots and passes away from the hoops. On the offensive end, though, is where Keller could really make a larger impact. Keller’s long strides are able to break open fast break opportunities from the back end, which would help Pitt put up bigger numbers in transition. In a set offense, Keller’s distribution could be used as a counter to Rishel’s playmaking abilities to provide a different look.

Key to Success
Forcing Turnovers – Without great size beyond chaser Stephen Hill, Pitt needs to find more creative ways to initiate fast breaks that will utilize its impressive speed. Forcing more turnovers with timely beats, strips and interceptions is the first step to success.

While Pitt would love to return to its World Cup V form (where it finished in the top eight), it’s tough to predict the team advancing beyond pool play. Its speed and Rishel’s versatility could be good enough for a victory and some close games, but unless its strategy better utilizes transitions and speed, Pitt won’t be playing in the brackets.

University of Texas - Southwest - Regional Finish: 5th
By Stephen Bell/Guest Writer

The reigning World Champion Texas Quidditch team features many new faces this season but continues to bring the stifling, physical defensive play it has come to be known by. With about one month left until the big dance, practices, workouts and film sessions are sure to be taking place in full force on the 40 acres. With strong team leadership and an appetite for victory, Texas Quidditch will look to take the World Cup by storm and prove once again it is the sport’s number one contender. 

Physicality/Athleticism – The University of Texas Quidditch team is big and fast. The players put this on full display from brooms up until snitch pull, using their tireless play and extremely physical approach to impose their will upon teams. Applying constant pressure without rest, the University of Texas team is known to wear down opponents over the course of games, allowing it to pour in the points once opponents reach their breaking point. Few teams in the IQA are able to keep up with the blistering pace the Longhorns are able to impose. 

1779196_10151896820218202_1093477144_nDefense/Hitting – In your face, hard-hitting, ball-hawking, man-to-man defense is what the Longhorns are known for. This is what the team takes pride in, and gains the most excitement/momentum from. With hardnosed point defenders like Kenny Chilton, Ryan Davis, Cody Tadlock, Paden Pace and Jackson Clifford, an argument can be made for Texas being the hardest hitting team in the IQA. This stout front line is backed by an equally impressive group of polished, off-ball defenders lead by Aryan Ghoddesy and Marty Bermudez. Texas’ hard hitting causes chasers to drop passes when faced with a fast approaching defender and to second guess driving opportunities with the sight of a Texas chaser in their path. When Texas finds itself in a tough game, a big hit followed by a counter attack is all it needs to change the momentum and get the sideline up and yelling “Texas Fight!” 

Beater Play – The Texas beaters have come a long way since the beginning of the season and are by no means a terrible group. That being said, the Texas beating crew is still not on par with the elite teams of the Southwest and has yet to reach the same level as last year’s world championship squad. A major difference between last year’s team compared to the present is that Texas does not hold bludger control for as much of the game as it used to. While the defense is able to manage with stellar chaser play, the offense takes a hit as its driving attack is much less potent against two bludgers. If Texas is to perform at its highest level, the beaters need to figure out how to work together to gain bludger control and keep it. If they can manage this feat, Texas will be a tough team to handle come World Cup.

Passing – With a plethora of chaser and keeper players new to the sport, Texas experienced a lot of growing pains early in the season as each newcomer discovered how to space the field properly, work around bludgers and time cuts properly. Since the start of the season, Texas’ ability to move the ball around has improved greatly, but there is still room to grow. Too often passes sail over intended targets, are directed to players too close to a beater or take too much time to reach their destination. These issues are less apparent when playing lower-ranked opponents but become more prevalent against top-tier defenses. 

Standout Player
Augustine Monroe –Augustine Monroe is renown throughout the IQA for being one of the top players in the game. His ability to slice through defenses is a sight to behold, as well as his ability to find cutting teammates while powering through tackles. Monroe specializes in no-bludger situations where his athleticism can be used to its full potential. Defensively, Monroe is a first-rate tackler with great awareness of when to leave the hoops to make a stop. An expert at reading passing lanes, Monroe uses interceptions to spark fast break opportunities. With his strong leadership, and utility as a beater, Augie “Slip-Stream” Monroe does it all for Texas.

Aryan Ghoddossy – Another Texas player worth noting is Aryan Ghoddossy. Extremely quick and agile, Ghoddossy also possesses some of the surest hands in the IQA. Performing backdoor cuts and curls within the Texas offense, Aryan scores many of his goals off of ally oops. With a low center of gravity, Ghoddosy is extremely difficult to take down and is therefore very dangerous when driving the quaffle as well.

Underrated Player
Margo Alemon – Margo Alemon hit the ground running at the seeker position for the Texas Longhorns. Margo impresses in the speed, agility and endurance categories, which have become essential for the seeker position. He is tenacious in his pursuit and demonstrates the correct amount of aggression required against physical matchups. Look out for him to make an impact for the Longhorns as he continues to mold his craft for their World Cup drive. 

Cody Tadlock –Another player who impressed at the Southwest Regional was Cody Tadlock. A perennial defensive stopper for the Longhorns, Tadlock has greatly expanded his offensive repertoire this season. Able to juke defenders and find teammates on the move, Cody is proving to be a major asset to the Longhorns on both sides of the field.

Key to Success
Continue to Improve –The University of Texas team that played at the Southwest Regional a few weeks ago is completely different from the team that took the field for the first time last year at Breakfast Taco Cup. If these players can continue the upward trend of execution and strategic development in this final stretch before World Cup, they have a very strong chance of going the distance.

Bludger Control –If Texas can manage to hold bludger control for the majority of its games, its offense and defense will be able to function at full potential and avoid the difficulties experienced in the past.

Get Healthy and Stay Healthy –The University of Texas Quidditch team has suffered a number of injuries this season, some season ending. Texas Quidditch must try to get as many players back to 100% as possible and focus on keeping them that way.

Texas makes it out of pool play with ease. On day two, I see Texas making an Elite Eight or Final Four run before bowing out. While Texas’ game has been brilliant at times this year, I haven’t seen it put together a complete tournament performance that leads me to believe it will make it to the finals without a hiccup along the way. However, all hope is not lost. If this group is able to keep improving and come together the same way they did last season, it will be interesting to see just how high it can rise.

Utah Crimson Fliers – West – Regional Finish: Quarterfinals
By Mitch Cavender/ IQA West Correspondent

While the Utah Crimson Fliers are primarily known by the modern generation of quidditch players for their trading cards, veterans of the sport will remember them for the prowess they showed on Randall’s Island at World Cup V. After a disappointing season last year, the Fliers are reenergized and hungry to bring forgotten glory back to their small, isolated corner of the West.

Heart As cheesy and cliché as it sounds, the Fliers’ biggest strength truly is their heart. When you think of a sports movie that has that word thrown around every five minutes, the Fliers are totally the team in the starring role. Utah is not going to blow you out of the water in any tangible facet of the game. They aren’t the biggest, they aren’t the fastest, they aren’t the strongest and they aren’t the deepest. However, what the Fliers do have can’t be measured on paper. Utah has a rich history as a program and a love of the sport that has not only won the admiration of countless teams both in and out of its home region, but also drives it to overcome adversity and experience on-pitch success. Utah showed probably the most visible excitement and pride after securing its World Cup bid back in November, and it will carry that emotion to North Myrtle Beach.

1524426_478152675636424_704507892_oPhoto courtesy of Kat Ignatova

Size and Depth A team already lacking in the depth department, the Fliers took a huge hit when veteran beater, seeker and captain Andy Hopkins left the team due to an employment related move in February. The Fliers now have multiple big holes to fill with little time and resources to do so, especially given their isolated location relative to other teams. This team used to have a reputation of having incredible stamina back in its heyday, and its top line players will need to live up to that old marathon runner reputation to have success in North Myrtle Beach. Additionally, Utah is severely lacking in terms of physical size and overall athleticism, which will cause significant issues when itattempts to matchup with more physical teams from other regions, especially the Southwest.

Standout Player
Zach Holley Keeper Zach Holley stood out the most amongst the Fliers at West Regional Championship this past November. Defensively, he showed great catching ability around the hoops, creating turnovers by snatching errant passes and shots out of the air with one hand. Offensively, Holley showed great speed and athleticism in the open field and proved to be the Fliers’ best option to drive through the defense and score high-percentage points. His aforementioned hands also make him a threat to catch and score down low in the offensive zone.  While Holley will be able to hero ball through lesser defenses on day one of World Cup, he will need to prove himself a proficient passer for the Fliers to pull off any upsets.

Underrated Player
George Williams Way, way back at World Cup V, George Williams was a standout player for the Fliers, who boasted a fearsome chaser line often referred to as “Murderer’s Row.” Unfortunately for Utah, Williams’ career was put on hold shortly after he started to gain national recognition, as he left the state for a two-year mission. Williams has, however, recently made his triumphant return to the quidditch world and will be making his re-debut for the Fliers at World Cup VII. If he is able to hit the ground running in North Myrtle Beach, Williams could be a huge game changer for a team in need of a spark. 

Keys to Success
As alluded to previously, Utah will need to ride its first and upper second line players for as long as humanly possible. If the Fliers are in good enough cardio shape to play all of day one on a short rotation, they have a realistic shot at reaching the second day of competition out of a non-stacked pool. Obviously, having these players gassed for bracket play will almost guarantee an early exit, but you have to worry about getting to the ballroom before you can dance. 

Coming out of what will most likely be Pot Four, the Fliers have a very difficult uphill battle towards reaching day two. If they get a fortunate draw, they should be able to compete for the third spot in their pool. In this scenario, they will most likely be eliminated in the opening round of bracket play. If they do not get a good draw, look for them to be eliminated in pool play.

University of Texas photo courtesy of .