Pitt Quidditch team loses in Elite Eight round of World Cup

By Gwenn Barney

In the end, it all came down to a snitch. And Pitt was out-snatched.

Pitt Quidditch lost to the… In the end, it all came down to a snitch. And Pitt was out-snatched.

Pitt Quidditch lost to the University of Florida in the Elite Eight round of the Quidditch World Cup Sunday evening. The tournament, in which 93 teams participated, took place on Randall’s Island in New York City this weekend.

Middlebury College caught the snitch for a 100-80 win over the University of Florida and its fifth consecutive title of Quidditch World Cup champions.

Pitt led Florida by a score of 60 to 50 when the snitch returned to the Quidditch field of play, but Florida’s seeker caught the snitch first, giving the Gators an 80-60 victory.

“Everyone was pretty upset. We were all quiet for a while, then there were lots of team hugs,” team co-captain John Battaglia said.

Battaglia said the team lost based on what he alleges was a referee’s wrong call with the snitch. In J.K. Rowling’s books, the snitch is an elusive ball with wings, but in International Quidditch Association play, it’s an elusive man or woman dressed in yellow with a sock hanging from his or her waistband. The team that snatches the sock from the snitch’s waistband earns 30 points and ends the game.

“We actually caught the snitch first, but the ref said it wasn’t a clean grab. It was extremely frustrating,” Battaglia said.

Quidditch is a seven-on-seven contact sport based on a game popularized in Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. In the books, the athletes play while flying on brooms. In reality, players can’t fly, but they must still hold a broom between their legs as they run, according to official IQA rules.

Pitt reached the Elite Eight after winning all four of its preliminary matches on Saturday and defeating the University of Maryland in round one of the playoffs and Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen round on Sunday.

“We were happy with our performance. We played at the top of our game,” Battaglia said.

The team went into the fifth annual World Cup ranked 10th internationally by the IQA, the nonprofit organization that hosts the annual tournament.

“The best part about the tournament was just being together as a team,” Battaglia said. “We got really close over the last two years.”