Southampton Fly into Britain's Big 4
For you avid Tab readers out there, an article about Quidditch may be vaguely familiar in your memory, along with the stuff you should probably remember for tomorrow’s seminar. Well, […]
For you avid Tab readers out there, an article about Quidditch may be vaguely familiar in your memory, along with the stuff you should probably remember for tomorrow’s seminar. Well, Southampton Quidditch Team is back, and, following a vast reshuffle from the match against Reading Rocs in the spring, took a 21-strong squad to the first ever British Quidditch Cup last weekend, in Oxford.
Being widely touted as ‘dark horses’ for the 16-team tournament (the largest competition ever played outside of America!), Southampton, led by the Captain-Team UK Seeker combination of Sarah Dorricott and Dugald Young, were quietly confident, regardless of being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Reading, St. Andrews and Leeds.
In all honesty, yours truly wasn’t there for the first match against Reading, having come back from France for the weekend. But what I can tell you is that Southampton won. Yay!
Next up were St. Andrews, a relatively new and unknown entity on the British Quidditch scene. This was a game which ended up being as physical and tightly fought as predicted, and was arguably one of the best games of the weekend, as St. Andrews caught the snitch 30 points behind to leave the game 50-50. Cue the first game of overtime being played in almost two years. A wonderful grab by Young left Southampton 2 from 2 and definitely qualified for Sunday’s finals day. All that remained was a straight shootout with Leeds for the top spot and bragging rights of the group.
Outrageously reliable beating from Will Buss (#BussForBritain) and dogged chasing from Southampton’s top scorer Jemma Thripp (#ThrippForBritain) led to an almost surprising domination by the southerners in a just as physical, draining game as its predecessor. Following another excellent snitch catch by Young, Southampton had won 100-20 and was going through to the Quarter’s full of confidence after such a promising start.
The big day approached in a sea of bruises and painkillers, as Southampton arose the Sunday morning, aching all over (mainly thanks to one brutal Leeds player in my case). Game 1 was to be against the Quidlings (Oxford’s B team), and it sure didn’t disappoint! Once again, bludger control maintained by the imperious Soton beaters, allowed the speedy chasers to attack on the break, with Ollie Craig, Alex Carpenter and Thripp sharing goals to race into a 60-0 lead. As the snitch arrived back on the pitch, Southampton was within breathing distance of the semi-finals. Seekers Ellie Aaen and Alexandra Iantchenko hassled the American snitch, Austin Nuckols, working excellently at wearing him down. However, a 6ft 3 snitch often needs a 6ft 3 seeker; cue Craig to shamelessly steal the girls’ glory and end the match. SOUTHAMPTON WAS IN THE SEMI-FINALS!
Admittedly, it went slightly downhill from here. Oxford is the best team in the country (potentially in Europe) – and posed too formidable for a slowly tiring Soton team. Despite the never-give-up attitude that had begun to characterise this team, they could do nothing to prevent a pretty humbling loss (even if I maintain that the 100-point difference flattered Oxford…).
Due to failing light, only 5 minutes break was allotted before the 3rd place play-off versus Bangor. With everything being so up-in-the-air (not literally, we play on the ground…) a slightly reluctant Southampton team lined up again. However, despite anybody’s predictions, an incredible performance from the entire team left Bangor reeling at 40-30 down. However, just when the Soton players dared to dream of a medal around their necks, a sudden snitch catch from the Bangor seeker left the whole ground in stunned silence. Southampton had finished 4th.
Despite the disappointing way it finished, there is no denying the potential this team has to go a long way in the future. Defensively one of the best teams all weekend, conceding just 10 goals from 5 matches (let’s forget the Oxford anomaly) and with some serious contenders for the Team UK selection coming in the next few months, there is a serious feeling of optimism amongst the camp. One thing is for certain though, Southampton Quidditch Team are unlikely to ever be ‘dark horses’ again!