The season concluded with the San Marcos Storm defeating the Dallas Dementors 2-0 in a best of 3 game series in the TSL Finals.
Game 1 – San Marcos 150* – 100
Game 2 – San Marcos 100* – 40
While the Storm have been likely favorites for the championship finals for the majority of the season, Dallas made a surprising Cinderella run.
The Dementors struggled with personnel throughout the regular season – first with the loss of starting seeker Matt Blair to a serious head injury in the first round and then lack of female participation in rounds 2 and 3. Partly due to these challenges, Dallas ended the season in last place despite 6th Street West forfeiting their final four games. The Dementors bounced back from both personnel issues for the Championship round. Having a home-ish advantage couldn’t have hurt, but the Dementors showed up in force, including eight additional players from Tribe, OSU, and Texas Tech.
The Dementors overpowered the short-handed Legendary Outlaws 190* – 90 with a well-rounded chaser performance to advance to the semi-finals. From there, Dallas faced off against Houston in a single elimination semi-final match. Houston came into the game on a Bye and at the top of the league table – the game was theirs to lose. An early penalty by a Houston beater opened the way for Dilan Freeman to plow through Houston’s defense and give Dallas a quick start. Houston switched to a dual male beater core and began to control the game, but quaffle players failed to capitalize on no-bludger opportunities leading to a close score line. When the snitch was released, Houston led 60-40. A quick goal from Tylor Mclaren to Leena Salem closed the gap seconds before Matt Blair made a dramatic, spinning snitch catch to win the game 80* – 60 and advance to the finals.
With 6th Street West dropping from the championship, both San Marcos Storm and 6th Street East played directly into the Semi-final match. San Marcos went undefeated against 6th East in the regular season, but fell to West (with similar personnel to East) in the first round. This I-35 rivalry match began neck-and-neck, but as time elapsed, San Marcos appeared more and more dominant. Quaffle possession moved rapidly as the teams exchanged goals. The 27 goals scored between both teams were distributed relatively evenly over 17 players with only 2 assists in the entire game. Austin Villejo came away as the match leader with 5 goals, most of which on no-bludger opportunities. Daniel DeRuiter came out of retirement to snitch and lasted the longest of any of the snitches this season at 11 min 9 sec on-pitch. Even so, that is not to say he wasn’t caught. San Marcos had 4 catches called off (3 by Josh Andrews, 1 by Jackson Johnson) before Logan Zahn’s catch was finally called good. The final score was 200* – 100 to advance San Marcos to the finals.
By popular vote, the league collectively decided to make the finals a best-of-three series. In the regular season, 56% of games were within range and 6% went to over-time. I have no idea how this compares to USQ or MLQ, but overall, the season showed parity with no team ending undefeated or winless. That trend continued into the finals with two snitch-range games between the Storm and Dementors. In Game 1, Dallas slowed the pace and stayed in the game, but was unable to give Blair enough opportunity at the snitch. The male beater set for San Marcos dominated snitch on pitch, though there was a moment in the game that time seemed to stop. The snitch (DeRuiter) was positioned right in front of the score table and Blair had a one-on-one opportunity. Blair was pushed down and sitting flat on the ground. DeRuiter was bent over enough after the push that Blair reached up and had his hand flat on DeRuiter’s lower back – maybe only 2 inches from the snitch tail. They held that position for a second or two. If Blair had slid his hand down that couple of inches, then he would have won the game, but alas, DeRuiter recovered and the opportunity was gone. A minute or so later, Andrews hulked over DeRuiter to end the game.
Game Two was do-or-die for Dallas. Dallas took an early 1-0 lead and the score stayed there for about half of the game. Stephan Vigil, Leif Montgomery, and Austin Villejo led solo drives up the field and through no-bludgers to put San Marcos ahead. Dallas retaliated with two quick, successive goals from Elias Kellogg to Martha Connolly, but it was not enough to hold off the Storm. Jackson Johnson switched to seeker and caught the snitch shortly after the seeker floor ended. The snitch catch was called good almost immediately, but protests erupted from the Dallas bench that Johnson’s headband had fallen off while he was snitching and that the team could not tell what position he was playing. The head referee waived off the allegations and San Marcos Storm were declared the champions of Texas Secede League’s inaugural season.
San Marcos Storm is largely comprised of Texas State Quidditch players. Anyone who has ever talked to these players past or present knows that there are running jokes about TXST’s record of consistently placing second. Needless to say, the TXST players were thirsty as hell for a first place trophy. Conveniently, Cuppy McCupface is a trophy that can be drunken from.
Until next year, folks.
PS. Be on the lookout for a survey about the league pertaining to any policy/rule/formatting changes for next year. TSL is a league for y’all and I won’t know if y’all are unhappy with anything if you don’t tell me.