Last weekend in Warwick, Rhode Island, NYU’s varsity quidditch team battled 50-degree weather and torrential rain to win its first-ever Northeast Regional Championship, defeating the Tufts University Tufflepuffs in the final match.
After beating Brandeis University, Middlebury College and Macaulay Honors College in group play on Saturday, the NYU Thunder edged out the Tufflepuffs in the quarterfinals on Sunday. NYU then went on to defeat Middlebury again in the semifinals 90*-50 before facing off against Tufts again in the final. NYU won by a score of 180*-100.
“For me personally, it felt like a weight off our chest, because we’ve done well in nationals but we’ve never hit our expectations in regionals,” Stern senior and chaser Frank Minson, said. “It’s like ‘Finally!’ We can go out knowing that we finally did it.”
The win also sealed NYU’s berth in the U.S. Quidditch Cup 13, college quidditch’s annual national tournament. Last year, the team went on to finish in fourth place in U.S. Quidditch Cup 12 — the team’s best-ever nationals performance.
The team has struggled to hit those same heights in regionals in recent years. Last year, NYU lost in the semifinals of the Northeast Regional Championship to the University of Rochester. This year, however, the team was able to explode offensively and maintain its focus despite the lousy weather.
“It was our third time late in the tournament so there was a lot of pressure to win obviously, because we had finally broken that threshold of being stuck in the semis or quarters,” Steinhardt senior and chaser Sidney Montague said. “So that was a huge deal in and of itself. I think even if we lost that game, we would have [been] pretty hype about it because it was still the best that NYU had ever done at the time [in regionals].”
The match started off fairly evenly, with both Tufts and NYU trading goals. The Tufflepuffs took the lead early on, but then NYU went on a scoring run and never looked back.
“We started to press them over to the corner and we started to get a lot of fast break opportunities,” Minson said. “It really opened up our offense and we started scoring in bunches which really opened up the game for us.”
In the 36th minute, CAS sophomore and seeker Kellan Cupid finally caught the snitch to give NYU its first regional championship in team history.
“I just needed to get one for the team, they were working so hard all weekend,” Cupid said after the game. “I told the guys, ‘All you gotta do is keep it close, and I’ll do everything in my power to win this game.’”
Despite his team’s loss, Tufts captain and keeper Finn McGarghan was proud of his team’s grit and performance despite the poor playing conditions.
“I was really, really proud of the way that my team just focused, made their hits, worked on their passing,” McGarghan said. “It was just a moment of pride to see the hustle that we had after an incredibly wet day of quidditch, to come out and play with such tenacity in a finals game.”
U.S. Quidditch Cup 13 will take place during the weekend of April 18, 2020 at the Shawnee Sports Complex in Charleston, West Virginia. NYU was the first team from the Northeast region to secure its spot at nationals, but the Thunder may meet Tufts again in Charleston as the Tufflepuffs also qualified for the tournament. Despite their competitive spirits, the two teams have great respect and admiration for each other.
“I love the NYU team because they’re not a team that we get to face that often, but also they’ve got some really great people on the team,” McGarghan said. “They have the ability to really put their nose on the grindstone and play really hard, tough, good quidditch and then still be able to make jokes and have silly chants on the sideline. That’s something that I think we, as a Tufts team, really appreciate.”
Following the regionals win, NYU is currently the No.1 ranked college team in the country. The Thunder has only been around for nine years, but the team has enjoyed immense success in its short history, giving the players confidence — no matter their opponent.
“Because quidditch is so young, you’re able to have this confidence of we’re all kind of on the same page in terms of where we’ve come from with quidditch,” Tisch senior and beater Jimmy Banta said. “And so you’re able to have — whether it’s false or not — the confidence of ‘We can pretty much take on any team in the country.’”
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]