RALEIGH, NC — The 2008 WFTDA champion Gotham Girls Roller Derby rolled into the Carolina Rollergirls‘ Dorton Arena on Saturday night and had little trouble continuing an unprecedented winning streak, improving to 15 straight victories with a dominating 185-31 victory on the road.
Read the play-by-play from Justice Feelgood Marshall in DNN’s archived boutcast. Coverage of this bout was generously sponsored by FiveOnFive Magazine, the official magazine of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.
Though Gotham was still down one of the most recognizable blockers in derby in Beyonslay (who was a late scratch from the bout roster, just as she had been in Gotham’s April victory over Charm City), they added three major multitalented elements who hadn’t been present in April’s bout — Suzy Hotrod, Polly Gone and Beatrix Slaughter, the latter returning from an injury that had kept her sidelined for over nine months. Slaughter only blocked in the first half, but returned for some effective jamming in the second.
Gotham looked just like the unstoppable juggernaut they’d been at the 2008 Nationals, with a monstrous first-half shutout run and a final point margin that was quite reminiscent of Gotham’s first-round, 182-25 squashing of Duke City.
In this outing, Gotham opened with a a handful of single-lap hit-and-quits, running jammers Suzy Hotrod and Bonnie Thunders back to back for the first four jams and opening up a small lead at 12-0 after 7 minutes. Carolina jammer Princess America grabbed Carolina’s first 2 points against 3 for Gotham’s Barbara Ambush on the fifth jam… but with the score 15-2, Gotham’s defense absolutely silenced Carolina’s offense for nearly 15 minutes.
Gotham’s jammers were continually beating the Carolina ones off the line to reach pack and following their blocking to lead jam calls while the Gotham blockers closed up in the back, often keeping Carolina jammers from even entering the pack before they were in danger of being lapped. Gotham repeatedly took 5-0 after 5-0 jam, occasionally throwing in a double digit performance just to switch things up (Barbara Ambush took a 15-0 over DVS as DVS was dropped by both Fisti Cuffs and Donna Matrix, and Bonnie Thunders rolled for a 13-0 power jam over Daisy Rage).
By the time there were under 5 minutes left in the half, it looked like Carolina might never get back on the board, with Princess America’s early 2 points their only offense and the score 83-2 for Gotham with 3:45 to intermission. Fortunately for the home team, they managed to get a little something going with the help of extended penalty trouble for Gotham — in each of the last four jams of the half, the Carolina girls were enjoying a 4-2 pack advantage, and that helped them collect 12 points to make it 91-14 going into the half.
The end of the first half didn’t presage any sort of momentum boost for Carolina, though, and the second half’s point margin was exactly the same as the first, with both teams scoring 3 more points each.
For Gotham, rookie Polly Gone, in only her second game as a GGRD all-star, is already filling the hole left by retired 2008 all-star Cheap Skate, steady as a jammer and brutal as a blocker. Fisti Cuffs continues to be extraordinarily effective in the back of the pack, constantly one step ahead of jammers trying to start passes, and longtime veteran Ginger Snap had a few memorable clearing blocks that opened up an inside turn just at the moment the Gotham jammers came trucking through.
Though there was painfully little to celebrate on the scoreboard for Carolina, there were some bright points on the track – particularly pack element Ms. Anthrope the Mordant, who more than a few times brought jams to a close by bottling up a Gotham jammer long enough for the Carolina jammer to escape the roiling pack and force the call, and crowd favorite Holly Wanna Crackya, who has emerged as the ace jammer for Carolina in the 2009 campaign and was a big part of keeping the crowd in the game with exuberant celebrations of Carolina’s successful jams.
Next up for Carolina is a battle against WFTDA East rival Boston in a rematch of one of the most exciting bouts of the 2008 Eastern Regional tournaments — Boston will be looking for revenge for a 2 point loss that denied them a trip to Nationals, and both teams will be looking to lay claim to a closely contested #4 rank in a tough region behind Gotham, Philly and Charm City. That battle goes down in Philly at the third annual East Coast Extravaganza on Saturday, June 27.
Gotham has their own big rematch coming up when they take on Texas (officially #1 in the WFTDA South Central, unofficially #4 in the nation via DNN) on Friday, June 19 in a neutral-ground bout in Connecticut. DNN will be providing robust live coverage of both matchups.
Photos: Michelle Hillison