Photo by Nikki Smith
Written by Kevin Oelze
With pool play finished, and the bracket finalized, we can really start looking at the roads that different teams are going to have to reach the US Quidditch Cup 10. Let’s take a look at each of the top four seeds after Day 1 – Lone Star Quidditch Club, Texas Cavalry, Mizzou Quidditch, and Texas State Quidditch – and see what they’ll have to face on their potential routes to the US Quidditch Cup 10 Final Four.
A-Lone Star At The Top
Lone Star pretty much marched through the day, the only team to cap point differential in every game they played. As a reward, Lone Star received a brutal bracket full of high potential. While they should have no problem with either a UTSA or Lake Erie Elite, those both feel like nastier draws than you might expect for the 32nd seed. The path starts getting really arduous once they they reach the Sweet Sixteen, where they will face the winner of the University of Maryland and the BosNYan Bearsharks match. These two potential opponents both had disappointing pool play results, but will likely go into Day 2 poised to potentially upset Lone Star. BosNYan, though they dropped a game to Cal, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Leanne Dillman for the second day. Maryland looks to get on track with a deep, talented squad that took an upset from a Mario Nasta-led RPI team.
Of course, the true test waits in the quarterfinals, where whichever team survives gets to face either the Lost Boys or – more likely- the defending champions QC Boston. QC Boston lagged a bit in their Kansas matchup on Day 1 but still easily won their pool. With their tournament life on the line so early in bracket, Lone Star will need to overcome this exceedingly difficult barrier to reach the Final Four.
The Cavalry Arrives
Texas Cavalry began Day 1 in the Pool 11 “Pool of Death,” and marched out of it triumphantly, capping their point differential in every game except one and taking the second seed into the bracket. The bracket draw was much kinder to Cavalry than Lone Star. Cavalry should easily be able to handle the winner of the play-in round between Crimson Elite and Central Michigan in the Round of 32 game. They will then face either the West champion Arizona State University or University of Kansas. Cavalry should be able to match up well with Arizona State’s physical style, but Kansas could be a potentially troubling matchup. Kansas is well known for being able to play teams that look unstoppable in snitch range. It remains to be seen if they can produce a similar matchup out of their hat.
Assuming Cavalry can handle their Sweet 16 game, they’ll likely face either RPI or the Los Angeles Gambits in the quarterfinals. While the idea of the Gulf Coast Gumbeaux upsetting the Gambits isn’t unbelievable, they seem to be less of a threat to Cavalry than either of the other teams. The Gambits struggled about as much as you can imagine for a team that won their pool and went undefeated, but they still remain a team with some supremely talented pieces and potentially terrifying seeking. If they can turn the quaffle play into the Tony Rodriguez show, the dual seeker threat of Margo Aleman and Eric Dreggors is going to ensure Cavalry wants to put itself well out of range before snitch play. First, though, the Gambits have to overcome an RPI team that’s already defeated Maryland and won an extremely tough Pool 10. Mario Nasta will attempt to impose his will on that Sweet 16 matchup, while also hoping the Gambits aren’t prepared for the RPI triangle offense or the deadly combination of Teddy Costa and Sam Nielsen. Cavalry seems a safe bet to advance to the quarterfinals, but there are multiple interesting matchups possible which might be able to stop them from reaching the Final Four.
Mizzou-ry Loves Company
Mizzou’s standout season continued with an absolutely dominating display in its pool play games. David Becker continues his breakout year, with his hyper-aggressive beating style helping to position Missouri in the easiest corner of the bracket. A potential first round matchup with Michigan looms as a bit frightening, but nothing suggests that the Tigers can’t handle that matchup. They’ll move on to play the winner of Texas A&M and the Warriors. Both teams are very strong, but Missouri looked like arguably the class of the tournament outside of the Southwest in pool play, and will be heavily favored to advance over either team. Missouri has been using strong, hyper-aggressive beating to open lanes and allow Jacob Parker to pass off to their female chasers for easy goals. This drive-and-dish offense looked unstoppable in pool play against some lesser competition. They’ll likely have to expand their offensive repertoire as they move deeper into bracket play.
In the bottom half of this bracket, Rochester United looks to have a relatively safe path to the quarterfinals. Florida’s Finest might be the most athletic team in the tournament, but they have struggled most against smart play, and the veteran RU squad looks poised to make another deep run, though their first round opponent in Rutgers could pose an interesting matchup as well. However, the featured matchup that we could see here is an excellent clash of styles in Mizzou and Rochester United. One of these teams looks like a strong favorite to advance to a potential matchup with Texas Cavalry.
Texas State’s marvelous spring semester continued into US Quidditch Cup 10. They look poised for a relatively easy first round match against either UCLA or the Silicon Valley Skrewts based on the results of the play-in round. From there, they move onto a date with either DCQC or Penn State. DCQC is the more likely foe after having arguably the most impressive run of any team in their pool (even if the Lost Boys won the pool). However, I can’t imagine either of these teams giving Texas State much of a scare, which could set up an extremely exciting World Cup VII finals rematch between Texas State and Texas in the quarterfinal round. However, a strong Bowling Green State University team which won an extremely deep pool over BosNYan and UC Berkeley could definitely provide a closer matchup for Texas than they did in the Final Four of World Cup VI four years ago. Bowling Green could easily overtake Ball State and become a roadblock on Texas’s path to the finals.. Still, if Texas can hold off the Falcons, a replay of the World Cup VII finals looms.