Quidditch | Tufflepuffs fall in semifinals, still earn World Cup bid
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 08:11
With the fall season coming to an end, the Tufflepuffs, Tufts’ Quidditch team, closed out strong, finishing fourth at this year’s Northeast Regional Championships in Newport, R.I., and securing a bid to the 2013 World Cup in Orlando, Fla.
Tufts was one of 24 contenders from New England and New York at the two−day tournament hoping to qualify for one of the 11 spots available. But, for a team that has been to the World Cup in every year since it was formed, including a run to the finals in 2010, confidence never wavered throughout the weekend.
“As a team, across the board, everyone stepped up, and we did really well,” junior co−captain Rajah Reid said. “Even people who had never had a big tournament experience really performed.”
Pooled against teams from Brandeis University, UMass−Amherst, NYU and Harvard College, Tufts emerged as a top contender, finishing the first day with a 4−0 record and an average point differential of 72.5 points per game, which was good enough to wrap up the No. 2 seed behind only Hofstra University. It also left them seeded higher than Boston rivals Emerson College and Boston University.
“We did a great job throughout the tournament, making sure that we didn’t have to rely on the snitch catch [for comeback wins],” senior co−captain Howie Levine said. “We tried to stay ahead by at least 30 points in games, and for the most part we did just that.”
The Tufflepuffs got their toughest challenge on Saturday from NYU, but were able to pull away late. They also got revenge on a Harvard squad that beat them in October, winning 120−50. Both games were capped by impressive snitch grabs from freshman seeker Nick Ryder.
Continuing to focus on clean bludger play and using tough defense to create offense, Tufts came out even stronger on Sunday. Thanks to their near−impeccable pool play, the team had a bye into the Round of 16, where they faced off against a Stony Brook University squad that had just one win the day before. With the winner receiving an automatic bid to the World Cup, the Tufflepuffs showed no mercy, dominating possession of both the quaffle and bludger and wining easily, 130−20.
In the quarterfinals, the Tufflepuffs faced off against SUNY−Genesee, which presented Tufts with its greatest challenge after finishing Saturday with a 3−1 record and the seventh seed. But Tufts was once again able to take advantage of bludger dominance and physical defense, pulling away after freshman chaser Max Leonhardt scored twice on a two−man penalty advantage halfway through the game and eventually easing its way into the semifinals with a 170−40 final score.
With four teams left, Tufts found itself face−to−face with Boston University, also undefeated at that point. Boston University had put on a show on Tufts’ own Res Quad two weeks earlier, beating down the Tufflepuffs in a lopsided 160−10 win.
“Compared to our last match, we did much better. We stuck with them for maybe the first five, eight minutes,” Levine said. “We had bludger control, so we were able to use that to our advantage to hold them back on defense and give us a more effective offense.”
But the team couldn’t sustain its play, as the Terriers managed to gain back bludger control and adopted an aggressive counterattacking style, snuffing out the Tufflepuffs’ hopes for a potential upset victory with a 160−40 win. Boston University would go on to beat Emerson in the Finals and take home the tournament title.
Despite the disappointing end, the team still accomplished what it had come to do and showed a marked improvement from round to round.
“Every game we got better and better,” Levine said. “We just have to keep practicing, keep playing and see how we can improve.”
Reid, along with senior chaser Rose Eilenberg, were both named to the all−tournament squad for their performances. The Tufflepuffs were also rewarded for their finish with the No. 20 spot in the most recent poll on EighthMan.com, a Quidditch media website founded by Daily editor Ethan Sturm.