Written by Michael Pascutoi
In a match that at times seemed both underwhelming and a testament to the continued dominance of Southwest quidditch, tournament favorite Texas Cavalry defeated Texas State-San Marcos in the US Quidditch Cup 10 Finals 80* – 60.
The roads each team took to the final differed greatly. Texas Cavalry faced little resistance over the course of the weekend, stampeding each of its pool play opponents with out of range wins. In bracket play, Cavalry rode its methodical offense on the back of its veteran quaffle carriers and Cole Travis’ beating, catching every snitch with no games in-range. After systematically taking down two of the top college programs in the country, the RPI Remembralls and Mizzou Quidditch, Cavalry entered the final poised to bring the championship back to Texas.
Texas State’s struggle to the finals was indicative of the team’s improvement over the course of the year. After playing the most games of any US Quidditch Cup 10 qualified team this year, Texas State entered as one of the top college teams in the country, though with more losses than other college contenders Mizzou Quidditch, Arizona State, or the University of Texas. During pool play, Texas State had no difficulty scoring, but also gave up more points to opponents than any other pool winner. Defensive struggles aside, Texas State then played three straight snitch-range games to reach the final four against UCLA, District of Columbia Quidditch Club, and Bowling Green State University. A matchup with a surging BosNYan Bearsharks squad in the semifinals turned into a rout when star quaffle player David Foxx sustained a game-ending injury, then was solidified by the strong quaffle play of Craig Garrison, Christian Rodriguez, and Jenna Bollweg.
Two vastly contrasting teams lined up to face each other as twilight settled on the main field of Austin-Tindall Park. A deep, systematic Texas State squad built around a star beater in Johnson was facing one of the most experienced teams in league history, built around a chasing line consisting of keeper Augustine Monroe and a talented plethora of chasers including recent Team USA player Kaci Erwin and alternates Marty Bermudez and Aryan Ghoddossy. Two quick goals by Monroe were offset by a drives by Garrison and Rodriguez to even the score at 20. Both sides played a slow, efficient style in bringing up the ball, waiting for beaters to clear paths while ball carriers advanced only to pass backwards to waiting teammates if an option to drive wasn’t present. Offensive opportunities were limited due to tough defense from both teams, and the score sat at 40-30 in favor of Texas State fifteen minutes in.
Cavalry made a noticeable strategic change by switching Monroe to beater, partnering him with Travis as snitch on pitch play began and allowing Texas State alum Tyrell Williams to take over the game as keeper. A series of long, uneventful quaffle possessions were punctuated by brilliant displays of beater play on both sides. Thirty minutes into the game, with the score standing at 60-50 in favor of Texas State, a missed Texas State beat opened a hole for Cavalry seeker Josh Andrews to have ten free seconds with snitch Gabe Garcez, ultimately resulting in Andrews lying on the ground exhausted, snitch tail in hand.
As the final whistle indicated the catch was good for Cavalry, the team stormed the field as a demoralized Texas State squad looked on. Three players on Cavalry – Monroe, Ghoddossy, and Shelby Manford – were winning their fourth championship, while Erwin, Bermudez, and utility player Freddy Salinas were hoisting the trophy for the third time as active players. Texas State, while runners up for the second time in four years, played a fantastic game and will likely be the top collegiate team entering next season, while Cavalry undoubtedly will continue to build chemistry under the leadership of Monroe. After one of the most interesting tournaments in USQ history, the 2016-17 USQ season is officially in the books. Congratulations to all 60 teams for participating, Texas State on their fantastic run to the finals, and Texas Cavalry on being the US Quidditch Cup 10 champions.