This season, Cal Quidditch had maybe its best season ever, finishing 19-7 against some of the best teams in the nation. Under new captains, Connor Hughes and Amanda Mosler, Cal Quidditch started the year off with a strong, new recruiting class. Over 100 people showed up to the first event: Capture the Flag on Memorial Glade. From there, a core group of about 50 members regularly showed up to practices for the next few months. In October, Cal was able to test their new mettle against local community teams.
On a rainy Saturday in October, Cal Quidditch hosted the Silicon Valley Vipers and California Dobbies in a scrimmage at Hearst North Field. This would be the first time new members would play a competitive match and the first time returning members had played in months. With the rain pouring down, Cal was able to defeat the Dobbies, a local Berkeley community team, and narrowly lost to the Vipers on a snitch catch. It was cold, wet, and muddy but fun was to be had.
As the team developed more chemistry and new members began to understand the game more, the team flourished in competitive matches. Through November and December, Cal Quidditch went 7-1, with the only loss coming to the Silicon Valley Skrewts in overtime with a snitch catch. During this run, Cal defeated Stanford Quidditch at the annual “Big Sweep” Tournament by 100+ points and various teams from Canada, Southern California, and Utah during the rest of their matches. At the Silicon Valley Showdown in December, Cal posted an especially strong showing, going 4-0 against the Long Beach Funky Quaffles, Silicon Valley Vipers, Provo Quidditch, and the Rain City Raptors. Spearheaded by the strong beater play of captain Amanda Mosler and Tristan Moss-Vasquez and the driving of star keeper Ryan Pfenning, Cal was able to pull off its strongest tournament showing of the season. This was due in large part to the efforts of starting seeker, Ryan Brown, and Jake Stanton who combined for 4-0 in Snitch on Pitch (SOP) situations. A notable moment came when former captain, Jake Stanton, dramatically pulled the snitch to win a close game against the Silicon Valley Vipers, 150*-100, avenging their earlier loss in the season.
As the calendar rolled over to 2017, the team set their sights on the Western Regional Cup, held in Peoria, AZ in hopes of earning a bid to US Quidditch Cup 10. With two convincing 150+ point victories against Stanford and the Vipers at the San Jose Tournament (NCQC @ SJSU) held in the Spartan Football Stadium, Cal Quidditch had their sights set on Westerns.
However, the team was missing their star female beater and former captain in Amanda Mosler who had run off to Argentina to study abroad. Cal Quidditch found their new captain-in-training in Owen Egger, who had shown tough physical and mental resolve throughout the year to develop his quidditch game. Newcomers Kyle Berquist, Michael Seraydarian, TJ O’Hanlon, Camille Moore, Jordan Tate, Tristan Moss-Vasquez, Darius Dastur, Rose Joseph, Nicki Mayes, Moose Chavez, and Quincy Stivers had all come into their own by this point in the season and had fully integrated within the team. Returning chasers Maddi Erdall, Maddy Montgomery, Ryan Brown, Jonah Phipps, and captain Connor Hughes were in top form while returning beaters Dylan Stover, Jorge Bugarin-Tello, Tina Tagliaferri, Sami Wilson, had upped their game and were ready to head to Arizona.
After a 13 hour long drive to Peoria, Cal Quidditch arrived in Arizona as a Pot 1 team, looking to qualify for US Quidditch Cup 10. However, early losses against the Fighting Farmers of America, an Arizona community team, the LA Gambits, and UCLA left the team on the outside looking in. This left Cal Quidditch to be regarded as “underwhelming” by many writers and left many people wondering whether Cal would qualify at all. As Cal worked its way through the bracket, they were able to turn it around with convincing victories over Sun Devil Quidditch and San Jose State. This setup a second showdown with the Fighting Farmers of America on Day 2 in which Cal pulled out a close 180*-160 victory. As the bracket would have it, Cal Quidditch would face the Fighting Farmers for a third time, now with a spot to the Florida on the line. The tournament format had allocated 9 bids for the West Region out of the 20 attending teams. Cal and the Fighting Farmers would duel it out for one of the final bids.
From the start, Cal came out firing and quickly gained a 50-0 lead due to the precise beating of Jorge Bugarin-Tello, Nicki Mayes, Darius Dastur, Tina Tagliaferri, Tristan Moss-Vasquez, Dylan Stover, and Sami Wilson. The beater core continued to carry the team, opening lanes for the keepers and chasers, as well as halting the Farmers offense. Although Cal faced a huge size disadvantage against the Farmers, they were able to use it to their advantage, using their speed and agility to score goals. When the dust had settled and Tristan Moss-Vasquez pulled the snitch to end the game, Cal had handily won by a score of 150*-50, earning a bid to Nationals.
Over the next two months, Cal prepared for Quidditch’s biggest stage in US Quidditch Cup 10. Over 60 of the nation’s best teams would compete for the title and Cal was slotted as a Pot 3 team based on their performance over the season. In their pool, Cal Quidditch was joined by Bowling Green State, the BosNYan Bearsharks, University of Virginia, and Tribe Quidditch. Many experts had predicted Cal Quidditch to go 1-3 on the first day, falling to the Pot 1,2, and 4 teams in Bowling Green, BosNYan, and Virginia, and not qualify for Day 2 of bracket play in their tough pool.
After two long months of preparation, the day was here. As Cal Quidditch boarded their planes to Florida, captain Connor Hughes and recently healthy chaser Ardin Lo were delayed due to midterms and flight maintenance. As the rest of the team settled in for the night in Kissimmee, Hughes and Lo were stranded at the San Francisco Airport, figuring out their flight situations, as their flight had been delayed by 8 hours.
With Cal’s first game at 9 AM against the 13th ranked BosNYan Bearsharks, they were faced with a predicament. Since Connor Hughes, the current captain, was stuck in Denver on a layover, it fell to newly minted captain Owen Egger to rally the team in their biggest match of the day. The team began to warmup on the fields of Austin-Tindall Park and was joined by Ardin Lo who had finally made it to Florida 15 minutes before the “Brooms Up” against BosNYan. Cal faced a tough task ahead of them, with half of BosNYan’s roster coming from last year’s Quidditch Club Boston, the reigning national champions. BosNYan boasted the largest starting lineup of any team in the tournament with 3 players over 6’2″ including star quaffle carriers and defending national champions Tyler Trudeau and David Foxx.
However, the Bears stepped up to the challenge and played toe-to-toe with BosNYan, trading goals in a fast-paced game. Michael Seraydarian, Jonah Phipps, and Ryan Pfenning played a physical game that matched up with the bigger Bearsharks and Maddi Erdall played a key role in scoring timely goals set up by the great beating play of second-year Dylan Stover and Jorge Bugarin-Tello. With game-changing snitch, Gabe Garcez of Baylor, on pitch, the challenge fell to the seeker by committee of Ryan Brown, David Cadena, and Pfenning. After 7 long minutes on pitch in which the teams traded goals, David Cadena, a second-year chaser, former wrestler, and converted seeker got under the taller Garcez’s arms and pulled the snitch to cap off Cal’s biggest win in program history.
Riding off the high of defeating the BosNYan Bearsharks, the Bears looked to continue their winning ways against the top 10 ranked Bowling Green State Falcons. However, Cal met its match against the excellent beating and chasing combo of Max McAdoo and Daniel Daugherty. For most of the game Cal stayed in snitch range with the driving of Pfenning until BGSU was able to pull away in the quaffle game and catch the snitch. Cal fell by 90 points but still remained in good position to qualify for bracket play on Day 2. Next up was Tribe Quidditch, a community team based out of Arkansas. Although the game was a blowout, Cal suffered critical losses during the match in beaters Darius Dastur, Dylan Stover, Sami Wilson, and keeper Ryan Pfenning. With four key players out, Cal was still able to beat Tribe by 130 points but faced the question of whether they would be able to win their final match against Virginia with a depleted squad and earn a bid to Day 2.
Four hours later, Cal stepped onto the pitch to face the University of Virginia Quidditch team with essentially a berth to Day 2 on the line. Both teams came in confident and it was a back and forth battle from the beginning. With starting keeper Pfenning out, the responsibility of running the offense fell to rookie backup keeper Jordan Tate and experienced 4-year veteran Jake Stanton. The two traded places in running the offense, creating driving opportunities and making timely passes to keep Cal in a solid position. As the best snitch in the game, Gabe Garcez, came on pitch again, the two teams were ready for a long slugfest. Veteran beaters Tina Tagliaferri and Jorge Bugarin-Tello and second-semester newcomer Camille Moore stepped up to the plate in lieu of injuries and led the Cal offense while holding down the defense with timely and accurate beats. As the game progressed into the night, keeper Jordan Tate stepped up to plate making a series of plays including drives and blocks to distance Cal and put them up by 60 points. With Pfenning out with a sprained ankle, Tate never came off the field, staying in the entire game and leading the Bears to a commanding lead. After thirteen physical minutes of SOP, star seeker David Cadena once again caught Gabe Garcez to end the game with a final score of 160*-70. Cal had accomplished their season-long goal and qualified for bracket play.
For their first game on Day 2, Cal unluckily drew Quidditch Club Boston, the reigning national champions and #1 ranked team in the nation. Boston had only lost one game in the past two years and boasted three Team USA players in Harry Greenhouse, Max Havlin, and Jayke Archibald. With half of Cal’s roster injured, Cal was overmatched from the beginning by QC Boston’s aggressive beater defense and fast breaks, eventually falling 160*-10 with Tate scoring Cal’s lone goal. However, Cal had much to be proud of, going the farthest since their Sweet Sixteen run in World Cup V. The BosNYan Bearsharks rebounded from the early loss and made a deep run into the Final Four, proving that Cal Quidditch could compete with the best teams in the nation.
As April closed, the Bears faced the final challenge of winning the Northern California Quidditch Conference Championship, a title held by the Silicon Valley Skrewts for the past four years. Off the pitch, Cal Quidditch helped to elect captain Connor Hughes as one of 20 senators to the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) Senate. The entire team rallied and campaigned for Hughes over the span of two weeks and succeeded in earning representation in the student government. With the heavy workload that comes with being a senator, Hughes stepped down from his captaincy and rising sophomore Kyle Berquist was chosen to be co-captain and help lead the team.
Cal Quidditch looked to close their historic season at the NCQC Championships held at Stanford’s Wilbur Field. Due to their performance over the year, Cal Quidditch was slated as the #1 college team and given a bye in the first round. However, since the tournament took place two days before finals, the Bears entered with half a roster and many unproven players looking to make an impact. Cal once again drew Stanford in their second round matchup and easily dispatched the Cardinal by 100 with key players stepping up including TJ O’Hanlon, Sonny Carlton, Connor Carroll, and Joe Tomlin. However, senior Jake Stanton, playing his final collegiate Quidditch tournament, injured his right wrist during the game and was unsure about his status for the rest of the day. Regardless, Cal found itself facing the Silicon Valley Skrewts in the final in a best-of-three series for the NorCal crown.
In the first game, Cal traded goals with the Skrewts, with still injured Ryan Pfenning and new captain Kyle Berquist leading the charge. Berquist stepped up in the keeper/chaser role, with a variety of agile scores and on-target passes. However, the Skrewts kept pace with keeper Andrew Covel and beater Willis Miles IV and seeker Forrest Stone eventually pulled the snitch within five minutes of SOP to put the Skrewts up 1-0 in the series. Cal would need to win the remaining two games to take home the series.
The Bears were determined to win the championship and it showed in Game 2. Chasers Maddy Montgomery and Maddi Erdall played their roles brilliantly in playing tight defense, forcing critical turnovers and scoring timely goals to pull away from the Skrewts. Berquist capitalized on numerous fast break opportunities and converted key passes from the now left-handed Jake Stanton to pull out of snitch range. Once again, seeker David Cadena pulled the snitch to win the game with a final score of 140*-70 and setting up a winner-take-all game three.
Game 3 started off similarly to the first game with both teams alternating goals and pushing to a 50-50 draw as the snitch came on pitch. During this time, beater Sami Wilson, who would eventually play chaser due to Maddi Erdall’s injury, along with Tina Tagliaferri opened lanes for captains Berquist and Egger to drive through. With SOP, Cal employed the famed “Cavalryball” strategy of slowing the offense down to a crawl so the beaters could focus on snitch game. Cal eventually employed a double male beater set of Darius Dastur and Jorge Bugarin-Tello who were instrumental in beating and tiring out Skrewts seeker Forrest Stone. As the game wore on, with the score deadlocked at 70-60 for 15 minutes, all of the attention was focused on the seeker game. Skrewts beaters Willis Miles IV and Andrew Covel had begun to snipe beat the Cal seeker duo David Cadena and Connor Carroll, taking them off the snitch for minutes on end but the substitution of Joe Tomlin gave Cal new energy in the beater game. Eventually, fatigue wore on both teams and all beaters and seekers had to be substituted. With the game approaching 35 minutes, Cal put in the lanky Ryan Pfenning as seeker, and Ardin Lo and Tina Tagliaferri in at beater for fresh legs. A minute later, Andrew Covel missed a long beat, Pfenning took his one chance, wrapped his long left arm around the snitch and pulled to give Cal the 90*-70 victory and the title of “Best Team in Northern California”.
The title proved vindictive for the Cal team and for former captain Jake Stanton, finally claiming the NorCal crown after four long years and exiting on top. His jersey #3 will be retired at the end of the season for his contributions to Cal Quidditch. Overall, Cal Quidditch had capped off their season with a successful NorCal campaign and looks ahead to next season. With only one graduating senior in Stanton, who plays Cal’s deepest position in male chaser, and chasers Ardin Lo and Rose Joseph playing Major League Quidditch over the summer, the team only looks to get better next year. And with the college/community split looming, Cal looks to be in an ideal spot to compete on the national stage next year.