Quidditch earns third place at Chestnut Hill tournament

Lafayette+finished+3rd+in+the+Chestnut+Hill+tournament%2C+behind+a+pair+of+teams+that+included+amateur+players.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Brianna+Esker%29

Lafayette finished 3rd in the Chestnut Hill tournament, behind a pair of teams that included amateur players. (Photo courtesy of Brianna Esker)

AJ Traub

The Lafayette quidditch team followed its home tournament with a trip to Chestnut Hill on Saturday, Oct. 20, where they earned third place out of eight teams. The team won its first two games in round-robin play before defeating Salisbury in the quarterfinals after losing to them the past two years.

The team’s run ended in a game against “Team Merc,” which was composed of students from Franklin & Marshall and West Chester, and players from the Philadelphia Freedom, an amateur quidditch team.

“I thought we were going to be competitive going in as we usually are,” junior head coach, seeker, keeper and chaser Will Pfadenhauer said. “I had no way of knowing what the other teams would look like and how they were going to play, but third place is something I think the entire team was happy with, especially given our loss in the quarterfinals there last year.”

The team’s performance was marked by strong starts to games, after their home tournament the Saturday prior, in which they lost the first game and won the rest.

“In all three of our wins, we got off to really fast starts, and that allowed us to dictate the paces of the games, which I think is is really important,” senior keeper Tyler Durso-Finley said. “Building early moments and keeping that [momentum] served us well in all our matches, even the one we lost.”

Lafayette defeated the eventual fourth place team Kutztown 110-60 in their first match of the day. It ended up being the tiebreaker between third and fourth place, as both teams lost their semifinal.

The game was close and saw two would-be game-winning snitch catches overturned, one for each team, before Pfadenhauer made the final play, catching the snitch for the only time in any of the team’s games, as the others ended by time running out.

“With Kutztown that was tough,” Pfadenhauer said. “We thought it was a game that we should have won, and we did, ultimately. Seeing that first snitch pull was tough and we were glad it was overturned. The refs got the second one, my first snitch pull was overturned and that was the correct call.”

The snitch is a “runner dressed in yellow with a velcro tail attached to their shorts. They are released onto the field at the 18th minute and must evade capture,” until they are caught and the game ends, according to US Quidditch.

Lafayette defeated Vassar in their next game, 70-50. Pfadenhauer said the snitch for the game played snitch in the United States Quidditch Finals, so he was not surprised that no one was able to catch the snitch before time ran out.  

“We had a bigger lead when the snitch was initially released,” he said. “Our thought was that we could pull one of our beaters away from the quaffle to beat their seeker. In doing so, we knew we were going to sacrifice a few goals. That’s exactly what happened. Once our lead was cut to 20 and it was apparent that neither team was going to catch that snitch, I put our beater back on quaffle to wait out the clock.”

The team continued its run into the final bracket, defeating Salisbury in the quarterfinal 90-50. It was an obstacle the team is used to, having lost to Salisbury in 2016 and 2017 at the tournament.

“There was no hesitation whatsoever,” Pfadenhauer said. “I think everybody knew we could beat Salisbury. We played them really closely in the past. So everyone knew this was our chance to get our revenge and finally get a win out of them. It was an opportunity that everyone cherished and took advantage of.”

“We got out to an early lead and then played really defensive,” Durso-Finley said. “Didn’t let them score, didn’t let them catch the snitch.”

The win against Salisbury set up the matchup with Team Merc, where Lafayette lost 110-60.

“We put in a few early goals that allowed us to keep pace for a while, but then we fell behind and couldn’t catch up,” Durso-Finley said.

Pfadenhauer and Durso-Finley said that Team Merc was often composed of four players from the Philadelphia Freedom and just two students from Franklin & Marshall or West Chester.

“The players from Freedom did a bad job at giving the players from West Chester and Franklin & Marshall playing time,” Pfadenhauer said. “I think that ultimately if you’re playing for a team like Freedom, you should stick to teams that are roughly within your range of competitiveness. I don’t think anybody from Freedom learned anything from playing teams that were significantly worse than them.”

Team Merc, which would win second place, was not the only team with players from the Freedom. The tournament-winning team, the Water Birds, also featured Freedom players. Pfadenhauer said the team was really from Stockton, but they registered as an unaffiliated team in order to add Freedom team members, although they didn’t need them to fill out the roster.

“This is not something I’d seen any teams do previously because it’s unfair to the schools that stick to their student base in order to field a team,” Pfadenhauer said.

Despite finishing behind two teams with amateur players, Pfadenhauer said the team is happy with their performance.

“At the end of the day, we did the best we can recruiting whoever we can from a school with only 2,500 students,” Pfadenhauer said. “Given that we were up against players who had been chosen as the best of the best, I’m really happy with the way we played and I don’t think we could have done anything better.”

“I’m curious to know what would have happened if the Freedom players hadn’t played for the two other teams,” he added.

Pfadenhauer and Durso-Finley said the team saw improvements after their home tournaments, and that the team used the first tournament to prepare for Chestnut Hill.

“I thought [senior beater] Jamie Taber beat especially well,” Pfadenhauer said. “I thought [freshman] Richard Chowanec, who switched over [from beater] and played keeper for us this past weekend, did exceptionally well given how little time he had to prepare for that. [Junior chaser] Rebecca Hetrick played especially well on defense and came up with a couple of interceptions and a strip.”

“From the new players, freshman [chaser] Tyler Abbott is starting to figure out where and how he needs to be and is definitely better at getting open in positions to score,” Durso-Finley added.

Next for the team is the Vassar tournament on Nov. 10.

“I think we can take nearly everything we did at this tournament and apply it to the next one in two and a half weeks,” Pfadenhauer said. “These are things like maintaining bludger control, passing and catching well, and having strong situational awareness. I think we did those things well and if we do those same things well at Vassar, we can come away with a win.”