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Quidditch | Tuff love: Emerson sweeps Tufts in World Cup tune−up

Published: Sunday, November 6, 2011

Updated: Monday, November 7, 2011 07:11

quidditch

Kyra Sturgill / Tufts Daily

The No. 14 Tufflepuffs struggled on defense in their matches against No. 4 Emerson.

In the final tune−up before next weekend's Quidditch World Cup in New York City, No. 14 Tufts faced off in a trio of games with No. 4 Emerson College Sunday on the Res Quad. After falling 90−0 in the opening match and falling behind 60−0 in the second, Tufts found its rhythm, outscoring Emerson for the remainder of that match, but ultimately lost the final game on a snitch catch, 100−50.

The roster Tufts will be sending to the World Cup was playing together for just the second time in their matchup with Emerson. Against Boston University the previous weekend, the squad often looked disorganized and was picked apart by a strong passing game from the Terriers.

With another week of practice in the books, Tufts came out far better prepared.

Despite the improved coordination, Tufts suffered badly from a lack of bludger control throughout the first match. Emerson's beaters maintained possession of two of the three bludgers for nearly the entire game, all but stopping the Tufts attack. Defensively, they struggled early to deal with Emerson keeper David Fox, who scored two of the team's first four goals as they jumped out to an early 40−0 lead.

The team noticed their bludger struggles, and is ready to make adjustments for the future.

"One of the things we are considering doing is switching up our starting lineups for the games to put our fastest beaters in first," junior beater Carly Boxer said. "The goal with that would be to go out, get both bludgers, and then sub out as we need to."

The snitch returned to the field with the Lions in complete control. Tufts junior seeker David Meyers did his best to hold off Ryan Barnada, but when Meyers was forced to return to his hoops after being bludgeoned, Barnada quickly capitalized, ending the game with a snitch grab and giving Emerson a 90−0 victory.

The second game got off to a humorous start when the snitch picked up the quaffle from midfield before the game began and handed it to Tufts University President and honorary game−starter Anthony Monaco, who proceeded to hide the ball in the back of his sweater. When the teams began play, chaos reigned until Monaco finally pulled the ball back out and handed it to the closest chaser.

Emerson, this time led by chasers Pablo Santiago and Carlyle Thomas, once again jumped out to a 60−0 lead on the back of bludger control and quick bursts of speed. But Tufts began to settle down, using physical play to protect their goal and using the quaffle to block bludgers offensively. When the snitch returned to the pitch and Emerson sent out a beater to help, Tufts capitalized and scored two quick goals, the first by freshman Brook Nichols and the second by classmate Andrew Carp. But the gap was too large to fill, and a second grab from Barnada gave the Lions the victory.

"We needed to focus a little more on our strategy," freshman keeper Nick Hill said. "We got a little distracted as we were working out the kinks. One of the big things we tried this week was creating different lines within our lineup, and once we get that down pat I think we will be in good shape."

The break was slightly larger before the third and final match, with both teams beginning to look a bit winded. Emerson had brought just 12 people to the match a standard World Cup roster is 21 and their tired legs showed as the game got started. Sophomore Rajah Reid scored immediately out of the gates, giving Tufts its first lead of the morning. But Emerson settled down, scoring three unanswered goals, including two from Santiago. It was a back and forth physical affair from there, as Hill and fellow freshman keeper Steve Mullahoo stymied the Emerson attack with strong tackles and did their part on offense, each contributing a goal.

We weren't as timid as we have been in the past," sophomore chaser Graham Kerr said. "One issue with our keeping in the beginning is that the keeper wasn't really sure if he was supposed to be aggressive and take them down or wait. But as soon as we started being aggressive, we saw that worked, so all the players started being as aggressive as they could."

With the teams still within a snitch grab of each other, the snitch returned to the pitch. But the game did not last long, as Emerson seeker Gabe Albright made the grab in under 30 seconds. The 30 points propelled the Lions to a 100−50 victory and a clean sweep of the set of games.

"For the first game and a half, we didn't have the right mentality," Kerr said. "In the second half of the second game and the third game, we kind of grew into the mindset we were supposed to have. We started being more aggressive, picking off people, marking people and taking more control of the flow of the match."

Carp finished the day with 20 points, a team−high for Tufts. Santiago had 50 points for Emerson, while three other players each contributed 30. Albright earned the only deciding snitch catch of the day, beating out Meyers.

With that match in the books, both teams will now be looking forward to the World Cup next weekend. Tufts was drawn into a pool with No. 10 University of Pittsburgh, No. 36 University of Maryland, the Silicon Valley Skrewts and Bowling Green State University. The top three finishers from the pool will advance to day−two action. The squad's matchup with Pittsburgh will be a rematch of last year's World Cup semifinal, which Tufts won.

"I'm fairly optimistic about the Cup," Boxer said. "I think we will do well. Expectations from other teams are high after what we did last year, and we are going to do everything we can to live up to them. We have a very solid team, and we have been improving exponentially over the last two weeks, so I think we have a very good chance of succeeding."

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