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Quidditch | Tufflepuffs finish 3-2 at Empire Classic

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 08:02

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Courtesy Emily Oliver

Steve Mulahoo had a breakout weekend as keeper for the Tufflepuffs, as they went 3-2 at the Empire Classic.

 

With eyes firmly set on the season’s World Cup slated for April in Kissimmee, Fla., Tufts Quidditch started off their spring season this past weekend at the Empire Classic Invitational, hosted by Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. 

In a field full of northeastearn, mid-Atlantic and Canadan teams, the Tufflepuffs demonstrated their promise for the semester, finishing with a 3-2 record in the invitation-only event.

“Coming in, we knew there were no easy games,” chaser and beater Matthew Cardarelli, a sophomore, said. “The level of play was very high, but we were confident in our ability to finish the day strong.”

First up for Tufts was Macaulay Honors College, the lowest-ranked team of the schools present. The Tufflepuffs jumped out to an early lead, holding Macaulay at bay, but struggled to catch the snitch. After more than 40 minutes, Macaulay threw in the towel, catching the snitch even though it would lose them the game, giving Tufts a 90-60 win. 

“I thought we did really well [against Macaulay],” Levine said. “It was a 46-minute game, the longest we’ve ever had to play. Both teams had difficulty catching the Snitch, but we were able to stay consistently ahead. Fatigue didn’t really seem to affect us until the very end.”

Next up was McGill University, sporting a top- 20 ranking. McGill came out strong, putting the Tufflepuffs in an early hole. But the Tufflepuffs took eventual advantage of team’s mismatches and closed the gap, securing their comeback on a snitch grab by freshman seeker Nick Ryder that gave the team an 80-60 win, its third of the season against top 20 opposition.

After that match, Tufts faced perhaps the best team at the tournament ― University of Maryland ― which entered the tournament ranked as the No. 2 team in the world.

“Our greatest challenge coming in was University of Maryland, and I think we impressed everyone the way we played them,” Cardarelli said.

Down only 60-30 when the snitch returned to the field, the Tufflepuffs were just one catch away from forcing overtime, in large part thanks to excellent bludger control and defense from junior beater Michael Sanders and freshman beater Arlene Rosenberg. Beater play, along with strong man marking from the chasers, frustrated their world class opponent, and though Maryland’s seeker came away with the snitch grab and the win, it was still an impressive result.

As the rain and wind picked up, Tufts moved on to face a familiar regional foe in New York University. 

Although feeling the effects of the long day’s wear and tear, the Tufflepuffs played well enough to win, 80-30, once again on a Ryder snitch grab.

Plagued by recurring injuries, rain and near-freezing temperatures, the Tufflepuffs were set to match up with their final opponent, the host Hofstra University. Both teams went out in the semifinal round of the Northeast Regionals in November, but the Jumbos struggled from the outset.

“When we were playing Hofstra, the intensity, focus and communication that we usually had there was slipping,” Levine said.

In the end, the home team secured an easy victory 120-20, over the thoroughly beaten Tufflepuffs, who ended their tournament run 3-2 and in fourth place. Maryland won the tournament, beating McGill 100-30 in the finals.

Though the final loss was disheartening, Tufts had plenty of positives to take from the tournament, especially playing without starting junior chaser and captain Rajah Reid, who is out with a torn ACL, and starting junior keeper Jared Nash, who was absent for the weekend.

“I thought we exceeded our own expectations,” Cardarelli said. “Our beaters especially played outstanding games; we maintained control of the bludgers for a majority of every game, and had great seeker beating. If they play like that at the World Cup, we have a great chance of success.”

“[Sophomore keeper Steven Mullahoo] also did a great job in Jared’s absence, and just has been showing so much improvement over the past few months for both our offense and defense,” Levine added.

The Tufflepuffs hope to continue their improvement, with potential home tournaments against familiar regional foes, including Harvard and UMass, in the coming weekends leading up to the sixth annual Quidditch World Cup.

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