By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
The Baylor Quidditch team saw its championship aspirations squashed in the semifinals of the 3rd Annual Brooms on the Brazos tournament. The Bears were unable to overcome an early deficit before Sam Houston State University caught the snitch, ending the match and their tournament run.
Mark Williard, Keller graduate student keeper said he believes it was a combination of Sam Houston State’s physicality on the pitch and that missed opportunities by Baylor cost the Bears a chance to play for a championship.
“They were physical, but mostly we just didn’t get our passes down. They weren’t as crisp as we would have hoped,” Williard said. “They did play good defense, but it was the fact that we really couldn’t get the bludger control back every time. We also missed a couple of passes and shots.”
Sam Houston State was able to enforce its will on Baylor early, jumping out to an 80-20 lead a few minutes into the match. The Bearkats kept the bludgers out of play, therefore, negating the Baylor beaters and forcing it to play a half-pitch game. After Baylor was able to cut the Bearkat lead in half, a late goal and a final grab of the snitch by Sam Houston State’s seeker put the Bears away for good.
Even though Sam Houston State was able to run an efficient offense against Baylor’s zone defense, Williard said he was impressed by the defensive tenacity of the chasers but realizes the defense still needs to improve if Baylor wants to be able to compete for tournament titles.
“Defense is one of our biggest areas of improvement. I was really proud of our chaser defense. It’s not an easy thing to stop chasers coming at you full speed with just your own body,” Williard said. “We are definitely going to work on it to make sure our defensive schemes don’t get beat up like they did in that last game. We just have to work to give ourselves the best chance to make the effort mean something.”
Not only did Sam Houston State eliminate Baylor from the tournament, it gave the Bears their only loss during the round robin pool play. The Bearkats used an aggressive attack in the early minutes to put Baylor on its heels the rest of the game, eventually winning 120-60.
Kenneville senior beater Blake Stroncek said he saw the issue in both of these matches as the same thing that keeps hurting Baylor Quidditch in its matches: slow starts.
“It’s the same thing that plagued us since I’ve been a part of Baylor Quidditch. We need to start strong. We have a tendency to start slow, the first five, ten minutes of the match,” Stroncek said. “We tend to be a bit sloppy and don’t connect on a lot of passes we normally make. We did ourselves a hole early that we can usually pull ourselves out of but as you can see in that second game, it doesn’t always happen. If we can play a consistent game all the way through, we should have no problem giving any team a run for their money.”
Baylor did earn itself a spot in the semi-finals by going 2-1 in round robin pool play. The Bears started the tournament off with a dominant 120-10 win over North Texas. After allowing an early goal, Baylor scored eight unanswered goals before catching the snitch and ending the match. In their final pool play match, Baylor won a shootout match with Victoria, 220-110.
Stroncek said he believes that the tournament revealed a little bit of everything from the Bears, including the great moments and the disappointing ones.
“Our first game we looked pretty good, our second game, we definitely started slow. Our third game, we battled back and had a really nice game,” Stroncek said. “We played against a team that had some really quality beaters that have played in world cup finals. We came out of there with a pretty nice sized win, so every game I think we are going to get a little bit better.”
Even though Baylor did not get the results it was looking for, Williard said he knows the effort and fight was there and that kind of effort will allow it to continue to compete at a high level in tournaments.
“Every game, win or lose, we fought really hard,” Williard said. “I was proud of our effort today but I think we aren’t where we need to be yet but we can be before the next tournament.”
Baylor finished 2-2 in the Brooms on the Brazos. Osos, Baylor’s second team, was competitive but lost all three of its matches in the tournament. Texas Calvary defeated Sam Houston State to claim the tournament title.
Baylor returns to action on Feb. 4 in the Alamo Cup. The tournament will be hosted by the University of Texas at San Antonio. The tournament will begin at 7 a.m and last until 8 p.m.