Sports Winter Sports

“Slumdodge Millionaires” Overcome Talented Zaeder ’17 During Championship Run

With a swing of his right arm, Matt Whalen ’16 of the “Slumdodge Millionaires” fired a dodgeball at the “Big Heads’” last man standing, Kyle Moss ’15. Backpedaling and trying to keep his team’s hopes alive, Moss tried to catch Whalen’s throw but couldn’t find a grip. The ball bounced off his hands and onto the ground, and the “Slumdodge Millionaires” won Student Activities Board’s fifth annual Dodgeball Tournament. To reach the final round, the “Slumdodge Millionaires” had to trump one of the tournament’s top contenders, “Not Even Good,” in the Round of 16, and then this year’s Cinderella team in the semifinals: the “Average Hojoes.” Led by Eliot Zaeder ’17, the “Average Hojoes” had twice escaped defeat in the rounds prior. The team, however, was not able to reproduce the same magic against the “Slumdodge Millionaires.” In the Round of 16, Zaeder was caught in a two-on-one battle. It was the ultimate underdog matchup — two Varsity Football Post-Graduates, J.R. McLaughlin ’15 and Cameron Fryer ’15 against the seemingly diminutive Junior Varsity Soccer player. Zaeder, however, was unafraid. After mowing down Fryer with a quick shot, Zaeder found himself in a one-on-one showdown against McLaughlin, a starting Wide Receiver and Cornerback on Varsity Football. Their duel lasted almost ten minutes, with McLaughlin tossing ball after ball towards Zaeder, who avoided them using a crouching, double-ball shield strategy that gave McLaughlin almost no body surface for a target. And so the game continued. It was a never-ending pattern: McLaughlin would throw and retreat, and then Zaeder would deflect and return fire. After a nail-biting sequence, McLaughlin failed to bring in a throw from Zaeder. The whole crowd stormed the court, teammates embraced Zaeder and exhilaration filled the cage. The underdog had prevailed. Brandon Barros ’17, one of Zaeder’s teammates, said, “Everyone looked at us like we were a joke. Especially the ‘Roast Squad.’ When we beat them it was so amazing because most of them had schooled me on the football field at some point during the fall, so it was nice to get some payback. There’s no better feeling than proving everyone wrong and defying the odds.” Baseball Post-Graduate Jake Nelson ’15 observed Zaeder’s dominant performance from the sideline and added, “[Zaeder] was a stud, and his strategy was super innovative. The [Post-Graduates] couldn’t believe they lost in the first round.” In the quarterfinals, all eyes were again on Zaeder. The “Average Hojoes” squared off against the “Boys of Taylor Hall.” Despite his play in the previous game, Head Coach Arthur Paleologos ’17 had elected to keep Zaeder on the bench, as he didn’t want him facing too much pressure. A catch from Jordy Fenton ’17 allowed Zaeder to enter the game, and soon he was the only one left. This time, Zaeder faced five opponents, a challenge too daunting for the crowd to even fathom another “Average Hojoes” victory. Zaeder recovered once again, however, and the eliminations of Courtney Masotti ’17, Rob Irvin ’15 and Whitney Garden ’17 in quick succession brought the “Average Hojoes” back into the game. Zaeder, utilizing his unique strategy in another two-on-one matchup, quickly took out Marc Sevastopoulo ’15. With Tim Bulens ’15 as the last man standing between the Average Hojoes and the semifinals, Zaeder prevailed again in another lengthy battle. In the semifinals, however, Zaeder could not replicate his heroics. Up against “Slumdodge Millionaires,” Zaeder once again found himself as the only “Average Hojoes” player left on the court. This time, Zaeder was unable to take out Matt Shea ’18 and Travis Lane ’18, who caught a Zaeder throw to send the “Slumdodge Millionaires” to the final. In the finals, the “Slumdodge Millionaires” faced off against the “Big Heads,” who returned to the finals for the second time in as many years. The “Big Heads,” which defeated a baseball-softball team in the other semifinal matchup, brought more experience to the tournament than the Slumdodge Millionaires, which did not compete in last year’s tournament. The “Big Heads,” however, had fallen to “Team Gunga” in last year’s championships and fell once again this year to the “Slumdodge Millionaires.” “Team Gunga” was defeated early in the tournament this year in another upset. The all-Lower team “Daj MaBall” upset reigning champion, “Team Gunga,” on the arm of Anjay Shah ’17, who took out Mike Panepinto ’15 to end the contest. “Team Gunga” boasted only three returners: Hannah Burns ’15, Foster LeBoeuf ’15 and DeWitt Burnham ’16. Asked to choose a Most Valuable Player in the “Slumdodge Millionaires’” championship run, Shea wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Although I can’t choose a team MVP, I have to acknowledge [Lane’s] game-winning catch in the semi-finals and [Whalen’s] multiple throw-outs throughout the tournament. Overall, I believe our teamwork, desire to win and the fun we had while playing led to our success.” The loss was tough to suffer for the “Big Heads,” which lost in the final match for the second year in a row. Jancsy, a member of the “Big Heads,” however, was unfazed by the loss. “We were hungry. After last year’s agonizing defeat, we came back reloaded, something ‘Team Gunga’ clearly forgot to do. We arrived on Friday ready to go, arms loosened and groins stretched. We came in with the mindset of championship-or-bust. That mindset propelled us right to the title game. Yes, we came up short of our ultimate goal. We were focused on how we looked rather than how we were going to play. Despite the loss, we had the most fun. Therefore, we were in fact the winners that night,” said Jancsy. Burns, a three-year member of “Team Gunga,” said, “I think that our spirit was a little lacking, but I will say that although I respect the ‘Big Heads’’ effort, we would’ve easily knocked them out if we had played.” All teams are now evaluating their rosters in preparation for next year’s tournament.