November 30: Slytherin 240, Gryffindor 110
New team rosters yielded promising results in the first match of the season. Gryffindor fans, still smarting from the loss of Seeker savant Harry Potter, wore discouraged expressions as the Quaffle was released, but Joey McCormack displayed undeniable natural skill, energizing the crowd. However, she was eventually outmatched by the more experienced Draco Malfoy, whose impressive feint won him the Snitch after one hour and twenty-two minutes of play.
Captain and Keeper Parvati Patil seemed preoccupied with more than her hoops this morning, allowing nine goals from the Slytherin side. Six were accomplished by rookie Tracey Davis, with three from Malcolm Baddock. Graham Pritchard offered several good assists early in the match, but was later grounded with a wrist injury, courtesy of a well timed Bludger from Natalie MacDonald. Patil successfully blocked twice as many attempts, but the fact remains fans have seen her bring a much fiercer game to the pitch on previous occasions. Perhaps the stress of captaincy has taken its toll?
Returning captain Vincent Crabbe had no such problem, keeping his Seeker and Chasers well guarded while slowing down McCormack and the Gryffindor Chasers considerably. New Beater Emma Dobbs held her position with minimal adequacy; her aim needs work.
Slytherin Keeper Gregory Goyle was in relatively fair form, conceding eight goals to Seamus Finnigan, two to Ginny Weasley and one to Ron Weasley, and blocking over twenty attempts.
December 13: Ravenclaw 260, Hufflepuff 200
The Ravenclaw Chasers were unsurprisingly the stars of today's match, scoring twenty-six goals in just under two hours. Captain and Head Chaser Lisa Turpin accounted for seventeen of those goals, with seven from Orla Quirke and two from Stewart Ackerley. In addition, no small amount of thanks should be tendered by Ravenclaw fans to Hufflepuff Keeper Owen Cauldwell, who managed to block only eight attempted goals. However amazingly, this constitutes an improvement.
The blue-and-bronze side of the crowd roared in support as rookie Keeper Zvetan Dunstan did his deceased predecessor justice, allowing only five goals from Hufflepuff's competent Chasers -- four from team captain Justin-Finch Fletchley and one from Hannah Abbott. Kevin Whitby, despite several enthusiastic attempts, had yet to score.
All four Beaters, particularly Susan Bones of Hufflepuff, played an admirable game, neither allowing nor causing a single injury.
The Snitch zig-zagged high above the general playing level for the duration of the match, and combined with the volume of the crowd, this rendered the dulcet tones of yours truly largely inaudible to both teams' Seekers. Unlike Ravenclaw's Kat Bundy, whose attention was frequently diverted to gauge the progress of the game below, Hufflepuff Seeker Ellie Branstone appeared to have an idealistic overabundance of faith in her teammates. In a well executed but poorly timed maneuver, she captured the Snitch, realizing as she descended that another seventy points would have been necessary for a Hufflepuff victory.
A moderate snowfall began early this morning, limiting visibility throughout the forty minute match.
In a slapstick blunder, Jacob Dunstall of Hufflepuff started off the match by sending a Bludger away from Ellie Branstone with superfluous force and following the maneuver with some tricky broom work. His showboating cost him, as the Bludger rapidly circumnavigated the pitch and returned to collide with the back of his skull while his attention was still on the fans. The resulting injury grounded him for the rest of the match, leaving Susan Bones, luckily the more talented of the pair, doing double-time to protect her team. Slytherin Beaters Vincent Crabbe and Emma Dobbs played with considerable finesse by comparison. Dobbs in particular made an encouraging showing; perhaps her sloppiness in November's game could be attributed to rookie jitters.
Neither set of Chasers made a remarkable dent in the scorecards. Tracey Davis and Graham Pritchard got the Quaffle past a befuddled Owen Cauldwell two times each. Justin Finch-Fletchley, with a single goal, was the only Hufflepuff to score.
In an upset that brought fans of each team to their feet with deafening cries of jubilation or protest, Ellie Branstone caught the Snitch for the second time in as many games, this time ending the losing streak that plagued Hufflepuff for the entirety of last season and putting them into the lead for this year's Quidditch Cup. Draco Malfoy, who was on the opposite end of the pitch when a familiar gold glint was spotted through the snow a yard away from Branstone, simply was not fast enough. As one of my Muggle colleagues once said, do you believe in miracles?
QUIDDITCH CUP STANDINGS