American State Quidditch - Kansas vs Missouri

American State Quidditch Match 

Kansas Blues vs Missouri Yellows

I may have to go to the hospital to have my throat checked out, but it was worth it. Every. Single. Second.

As fans cheer and thump each other on the back, the Missouri Yellows circle overhead, celebrating the breaking of the Kansas Blues winning streak. At 13 games, the Blues knew they'd have a tough opponent in Missouri, and it was wise on their part to come fully prepared.

Missouri is playing spoiler as the regular season comes to a close, the playoffs less than a month away. As I glance around, I notice a family on the pitch, twins wearing different uniforms, engaged in heated but playful banter with their family.

"I told you we'd win. You owe me dinner for the next month and I eat EXACTLY at 6.04pm."

"You cheated! Even Grammie Jean, who can't see the point, can see that! Mom, tell her! Her broom isn't even regulation!!"

"Oh my gosh, Seb, THAT again!?!?!"

The Gomez twins. Known throughout the Quidditch World as the fiercest competitors in their age group. Sebastian and Nessa Gomez are Chaser and Keeper, respectfully, for each team of their teams. Taking sibling rivalry to another level is all in a day's work for these two, and the stakes get higher every time they face each other.

The Battle of Kansas City is one of the fastest, yet most engaging games I've witnessed since acquiring this position earlier in the season. I spoke with Arnold Spencer, head of the brand new American Quidditch Hall of Fame, which is sponsoring this game and opening right after the game in Kansas City, MO:

"The tension is palpable in both cities as this time of year rolls around, seeing as whether or not Kansas gets home field advantage (playoff games at home) will either be glorious or tragic." He laughs. "Nothing like a good drama, you know. The kids absolutely love this stuff." He looks fondly at the celebrating young people in the stands.

The match, lasting only an hour, was ripe with the drama the young people love. Ending 190-40, this match was a keepers' legend line. N. Gomez of Missouri and R. Berg of Kansas end up having the best games of their careers. A record 30 stops apiece, it became a game of "Who's going to blink first?" The game starts off pretty fast, with Jay Knotts knocking the Quaffle past N. Gomez in the first minute of play, the air thick with cheers. 10 minutes in the score is tied at 40, and neither wants to be the one who lets the tie breaker through. Kansas Keeper Ryan Berg, second year in the league, showed off his impressive  agility on a broom, while Missouri Keeper Nessa Gomez seemed to take every shot as an insult. I caught up with both Keepers after the game to ask them about their defensive styles.

"Seb," says Nessa. "He looked for every possible way to get the ball in, and keeps me on my toes. If I can get into their heads before the Quaffle is shot, I've won."

"Dodgeball," says Ryan, a sport that no-maj children play where two teams set up opposite of each other and throw specially designed balls - that look similar to a Quaffle - at each other. The object of the game is, of course, to dodge the ball. "Anticipating each move helps me find the easiest path to block an incoming goal."

Kansas opens with two goals in the first five minutes (Knott (1) Pritz (1) ) and Missouri answers swiftly, tying the game (Kim (1) Lukas (1) ) before a foul is called on Kansas for taunting. The penalty shot and rebound score (Leir (2) ) give Missouri a 40-20 lead. A fight breaks out over the taunting call, and each team receives a penalty, with Kansas having a player put in the box for instigating. Kansas rides the momentum to tie the game (Gomez (1) Finrick (1) ), and then it begins. 40 minutes of spectacular Keeper saves. The stands were at a fever pitch because of an off-the-foot-looping save when someone "Spoiled the fun!", to quote a rather irate fan, by catching the Snitch (Bryden, 3rd Snitch of the season, 10th in career).

This is one of those gloriously fun rivalries where everyone comes together to talk smack and celebrate the fun that is Quidditch. With this loss, Kansas has lost home field advantage, but maintains their 6 game lead over second place Illinois, who plays Missouri next week. Kansas will face Iowa and will attempt to knock them out of playoff contention.

 

Lucy Green