Written by Matt Dwyer
This afternoon spectators found an exciting matchup between the Great Lakes Regional Champion Bowling Green State University, and three-time national champion University of Texas. The teams have only met once prior: a Final Four matchup at World Cup VI, coincidentally also in Kissimmee. Bowling Green was coming off a gauntlet of difficult games, exhausted. Texas had an easier path, and was able to dispatch the Falcons easily en route to winning its first title.
The lead up to today’s game was much different than it was four years ago. Both teams did very well on Day 1, and were seeded high enough to not have exceedingly difficult matchups to reach the Sweet 16. With sun high overhead and a clear sky, the rematch was set.
Bowling Green came out firing immediately and pushed the pace against Texas’s defense. Beater Max McAdoo ran wild around the pitch, clearing lanes for the Falcon’s chasing core to drive and score. Bowling Green put Texas back on its heels, and took an early 30-0 lead in this fashion. The Longhorns, however, were not going to move over so easily. Showing some superior speed and athleticism, Texas chasers were able to dodge beats and drive through defenders to score or pass to a teammate. Though this play worked occasionally, Bowling Green’s physical tacklers and tight man coverage often took away chances for drives and passes.
Bowling Green continued its up tempo play into the middle of the game, constantly pressing Texas into its own keeper zone and attempting to force turnovers. Texas was prepared for the press however, and used open space to spread the Bowling Green beaters, making it difficult to actually force the turnover. Unfortunately running the press was tiring in the hot Floridian sun, and McAdoo needed to substitute. Like a switch, Texas beater Eddie Molina regained bludger control and dominated beater play. Texas began to play its beaters very aggressively, creating easy lanes for its keeper and chasers to drive. However, Bowling Green keeper Daniel Daugherty still pushed the pace, avoiding beaters to find open chasers behind the hoops or take a long shot.
Though Texas was controlling the beater game more and was getting three times the number of offensive rebounds, it was still difficult for its offense to score. Many shots sailed wide or were picked off by the Falcons. With a more solid beating defense though, the Longhorns were able to consistently stay within snitch range throughout the match. Once snitch was on pitch, Texas, down 30, completely locked down the snitch. Using both a defensive seeker and Molina at beater, Bowling Green’s seeker Sam Roitblat was not able to get near the snitch. Focusing on the quaffle game instead, Bowling Green continued to keep the Longhorns at the edge of snitch range, shutting down effective passing at the hoops with beater help.
Oftentimes, a snitch catch happens in a split second decision; one wrong step, one late dive. In this case, it was one missed beat. Molina’s defense of the snitch ended as he missed a crucial beat on Roitblat, allowing him a chance at the snitch. On a dive, Roitblat catches, the Falcons up 30. Bowling Green wins the match 110*-50, and moves on to their third Elite Eight appearance in the team’s history.