The NYDC Capitalists were crowned the champs of the first annual Capitol Cup, hosted by the NYDC and George Mason University on March 8.
Editor's Note: The author of this article, Erin Mallory, is a member of Maryland Quidditch.
After enjoying the first day of beautiful weather of the year, the NYDC Capitalists came out victorious over Maryland Quidditch, showing their critics that it is not just hype. By winning this tournament, the Capitalists showed that they are definitely heating up in preparation for the World Cup and that these experienced players are ready to bring stiff competition to whomever they face in three weeks.
When two teams dropped a few days before the tournament, the Capitol Cup’s schedule was reworked so that the seven teams in attendance would all get a minimum of six games through round robin play of everyone else, and then the four teams with the best record would move onto bracket play. In the end, NYDC, Maryland, Richmond University and NotUNC (unofficial) ended with the best records and competed for the championship while the other three teams—George Mason University (GMU – unofficial), Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Richmond Community Team (RVA – basically a mercenary team)—all performed admirably but fell a little short. But how did they all get there?
RVA may have ended the day 0-6, but that did not stop the players from enjoying every moment of the tournament. Made up of players from the Richmond area, Pennsylvania State University’s Nittany Lions and Quidditch Club Carolinas, these players came together to play the sport they love and have a blast. Although they only had one game in snitch range the whole day (versus GMU), this pink team came fired up, ready to compete with anyone and ready to have fun.
And with its first and only win of the day coming over RVA, first-year team GMU showed up on its home field ready to see what it could do against some of the Mid-Atlantic’s best. As expected, it was blown out in nearly all of its games, but GMU still got some great experience and showed that it definitely has some athletes. Running a zone defense that seems to be inspired by Baylor University, GMU still has some pieces to put together, but that is to be expected from a first year team. Under the guidance of many NYDC players, this team could come together in the next few years and be competitive. But for now, it is working on recruiting and honing its skills.
VCU was the final team to not make it into bracket play at the end of the day, but the players on the team definitely made a statement. VCU took both NotUNC and Richmond into overtime. If either of those games had gone to VCU, the bracket would have been completely different. Stepping up in a big way for her team was beater Natasha Connely. This is only her first year playing and in many games that I witnessed, she made crucial goal-saving beats and was able to deflect or catch many bludgers. This helped her team regain bludger control in some of the games, giving her chasers an easier defense to go against. Even though VCU only went 2-4, it has shown a lot of growth and that it has the tenacity and determination to hang with anyone.
Finally, we make it to the teams that made bracket play. All four of them had exciting or surprising games that are worth taking a second look at. Probably the most surprising result of the day was the defeat of Maryland by the unofficial NotUNC squad. A team comprised of mostly University of North Carolina players, Chapel Hill (UNC) players and two players from Virginia Tech (Andrew McGregor and Laurel Minnick), NotUNC was able to keep Maryland in snitch range and Chris Champitto showed that he is not a seeker to be forgotten when he pulled the snitch over Harry Greenhouse. While Maryland’s players were unfocused, NotUNC chasers Max Miceli and Lee Hodge were able to easily drive right in on Maryland’s defense and score mid-range goals. With NotUNC having excellent defense as well, Maryland could not seem to put the ball through the hoops and failed to ever build a significant lead. The Maryland players paid for it when NotUNC shocked them and pulled off the upset of the day. NotUNC fought very hard for its win and, even though it was an unofficial team, the victory did have people start talking about UNC and what it could do at the World Cup.
Another storyline of the tournament was Richmond. Richmond has always been seen as just on the bubble of breaking into the elite teams of the Mid-Atlantic and never being able to pull out a crucial win over one of the top four. Although it still did not get one this weekend, twice Richmond was only a snitch pull away from pulling an upset. Against Maryland in pool play, Richmond was only down 10 points and it easily could’ve given Maryland its second upset of the day. It was also able to hang with NYDC once it reached bracket play, being in snitch range the whole game and nearly pulling the upset there. With captain and keeper Jeremy Day motivating this team, Richmond is striving to reach new potential. With a little adjustment, Richmond will be able to pull out the close games and surprise quite a lot of people at the World Cup.
The most-hyped game of the day was Maryland versus NYDC. Many consider these two teams to be the best in the Mid-Atlantic and due to fate, weather, etc., these two teams just would not meet in tournaments. Finally, the quidditch community would get to see them play (and eventually saw it twice). In the pool play game, NYDC went up a quick 40-0 on a Maryland team that looked lost. But after that initial defensive lack, Maryland clawed back into the game, eventually tying and taking the lead. As expected, the seeker play was intense and showcased some of the best of the region. Beaters dedicated themselves solely to the snitch play as Greenhouse, Billy Greco and Freddy Varone all went after the snitch. After a catch called off for each team, Greenhouse was finally able to pull the snitch when the game was tied at 110 and gave Maryland the win.
When they met again in the championship, it was much of the same story. Again NYDC went up quickly with excellent play from keepers Alex Linde and Michael Parada. Again Maryland, off the backs of chaser Matt Angelico and keeper Josh Marks, was able to pull the game back. And again, beaters were dedicated to snitch play when Austin Nuckols returned. Beater Kerri Donnelly for NYDC shined during the snitch/seeker play, dominating everyone around her and hitting Greenhouse whenever he got close to the snitch. Her stellar performance gave her seekers multiple one-on-ones, and, eventually, Greco and NYDC got their revenge as the Capitalists became the first ever Capitol Cup champions.