Middle of the Pack: Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Preview
by Ittaana Krow and Yara Kodershah
Gameplay and Communications are back once again to provide you with a closer look at another set of four teams that will be competing this weekend in Oshawa, Ontario at the Civic Recreation Centre, as part of our daily tournament preview series. Working from the bottom to the top of our finalized pre-regional rankings, we’re providing a brief overview of the composition, strategy, and outlook of the fourteen teams making an appearance at #QCER17.
Turning now to our teams ranked 10 through 7, let’s take a look how have these teams have fared throughout the season so far. What will it take for them to break out ahead from the middle of the pack?
Carleton Ravens (Win-Loss: 1-4)
The University of Carleton’s quidditch team is undergoing a transitional phase in a standard four-year cycle, common to most university teams, wherein the bulk of their veteran players have graduated, leaving only a handful to guide and restructure a team of rookies. Bringing a roster of 20 to this weekend’s competition, over half of whom are new to the team and the sport, means that this team will heavily rely on their veterans to generate an offense and organize a defense.
This may be why former Team Canada seeker and experienced chaser Alex Naftel made the transition to beater this season; as a beater, Naftel may be better positioned to make critical stops in the defensive zone and force turnovers with much more ease than he would’ve been able to as a chaser. However, that also means that it’s largely now up to a team of new recruits to put points on the board. Whether these rookies can gain the confidence to step into their role will determine how far the Ravens can go this weekend.
Players to watch: Alex Naftel (#16) and Heather Nakanishi (#19)
Ryerson Quidditch (Win-Loss: 0-2)
Ryerson Quidditch is one of Canada’s oldest teams. Despite having 7+ seasons under their belt, they’ve never had the roster size to hold their own competitively in a two day tournament. They are missing last season’s Sheel Radia, who led the quaffle offense as a driving and passing threat. Having only appeared in two official games so far this season – against the currently ranked #1 and #3 teams no less – it is difficult to gauge whether they have managed to fill Radia’s role on the team.
What then determines Ryerson’s success this weekend? The leadership of Benjamin Légere. It’ll be up to him to ensure his team is focused and ready to go, and instill them with the belief that they can walk away with a win.
Players to watch: Benjamin Légere (#95) and Anna Spencer (#13)
Waterloo Ridgebacks (Win-Loss: 3-5)
The University of Waterloo’s team parallels Carleton this season, with much of their team consisting of players in the first or second year of their careers. This, in combination with the loss of several key players, has resulted in a team that’s come a long way from where they were two years ago competing for bronze at the 2016 National Championship.
Of their player losses this season, none is felt more strongly than the loss of Mark Fehrman, who – aside from being a vocal leader on the team – was also a formidable beater who impacted offensive, defensive, and seeker play. The Ridgebacks’ offensive strategy relies heavily on an ability to create turnovers leading to fast break goals, and up until last season, they’ve run a well structured zone defense that very few teams could break. Without a beater that can hold their own, both of these strategic elements fall flat, resulting in the team having to lean heavily on coach Jon Keates and leader Brock Lowery to lead the quaffle offense. The opportunity is there for a beater to step up and be the difference maker this weekend.
Players to watch: Brock Lowery (#57) and Courtney Butler (#18)
University de Montréal Quidditch (Win-Loss: 2-3)
University de Montréal (UdeM) Quidditch plays a brand of quidditch that is exciting and entertaining for spectators and athletes alike. This is a team that utilizes its athleticism to its peak potential by running a defense that extends from hoop to hoop; point defenders have the speed and strength to pick up keepers the moment the quaffle leaves the keeper zone. On offense, expect to see lots of fast break goals, complete with dunks, alley-oops, and precision passing. This is a team that believes they can outrun Usain Bolt himself, and it’s up to their opponents to prove them wrong.
Former 2016 Team Canada beater Ema Shiroma-Chao runs a tight ship, positioning both her beater partner and her chasers on defense to put them in the most advantageous position to succeed. Beyond their on field play, the enthusiasm and energy the entire team brings off pitch is something unique that spectators will be sure to enjoy. UdeM has demonstrated they can compete with anyone – but only in spurts. If they can deliver a complete game, from ‘Brooms Up!,’ to snitch catch with no lulls in between, then they will become the dark horse team top tier teams must look out for.
Players to watch: Ema Shiroma-Chao (#41) and Laurence Bilodeau (#17)
Outside Looking In: Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Preview will be released on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 2:00pm Eastern Time.
Ittaana Krow is the Gameplay Director at Quidditch Canada and Head Coach of Valhalla Community Quidditch, and Yara Kodershah is the Communications Director and Head Manager of Valhalla Community Quidditch. The opinions in this piece are of the writers, and not of Quidditch Canada. The Eastern Regional Championship is coming to Oshawa, Ontario, this weekend on November 11-12. RSVP to the Facebook Event here.