Championship bout: (1W) Oly 178, (1SC) Texas 100 — When 2009 began, Oly hadn’t played their first WFTDA-sanctioned bout. Just over ten months later, they put the finishing touch on an 11-0 record with a overwhelming victory in the WFTDA Nationals over the originators of the modern derby game.
From nearly the beginning of the game, Oly was asserting their will on Texas both physically and positionally. Texas held a very small and short-lived lead after two jams, up 3-0, but a 7-0 run for Oly’s Blonde ‘n’ Bitchin kickstarted Oly’s scoring and it was a surprisingly long while until Texas could get back on the board. Oly quickly constructed a 24-3 lead over the next few jams and the rest of the game saw Texas falling further and further into the hole.
15 minutes into the bout Oly was up 52-21, and had nearly cracked the century mark at halftime; at the break the score was 95-40 for Oly. It was a rare game where Texas looked consistently overmatched, unable to answer the Oly combination of speed and strength from jammers Heffer, Tannibal Lector, Blonde ‘n’ Bitchin’ and Atomatrix. They also seemed to be getting forced off the inside line atypically often by Oly’s offensive blocking that allowed those jammers to burst out of the pack exiting the turns.
After losing the first half by 45, Texas did seem to implement some adjustments and improve their game in the second half — they were outscored again, but by a smaller margin of 23 points. With just under 10 minutes to play, Texas’ Rice Rocket fired up the crowd when she was able to get one of Texas’ only big jams with a 10-0 powerjam that left Texas behind by 50 with 7 minutes to play — a point differential that would usually be easy for Texas to make up against 95 percent of teams in derby, but it wasn’t going to happen against Oly. Soon afterwards, Oly shut the door for good with a huge 18-4 jam for Heffer while Texas jammer Olivia Shootin’ John was suffering from a 4-2 pack favoring Oly.
By the time the game had reached its conclusion, Oly had put up the most points ever scored on Texas, in addition to the largest margin of victory, eclipsing Gotham’s 125-65 victory over Texas in June 2008.
Oly extends their sanctioned-bout win streak to 11 games in a row and claims the Hydra Trophy in their first trip to Nationals; Texas ends the season at 11-2 and once again falls just short of the final prize (they finished 3rd in 2007 and 4th in 2008.)
Third Place Bout: (3W) Denver 151, (2W) Rocky Mountain 103 — Denver benefitted a bit from the fact that Rocky Mountain didn’t have their ace DeRanged available for their final bout, as she’d been suspended from the tournament for throwing a punch at Angie-Christ late in their semifinal loss to Texas. Denver fairly solidly increased their lead for the majority of the bout — while it was a narrow 27-19 advantage halfway through the first 30 minutes, a lengthy string of lead jammer calls allowed Denver to drop 44 unanswered points and make it 71-19 late in the half.
Rocky Mountain finally got something going with about 6 minutes left, scoring 20 unanswered points before Denver’s Angela Death closed the half’s scoring with a grand slam. At the midpoint of the bout the score stood at 79-39 Denver.
RMRG’s comeback continued as the second half opened with 9 unanswered points over the first three jams, and they were then able to steal a 4-3 jam win from lead jammer Angela Death as Frida Beater cruised through the pack just as Angela called. Rocky Mountain had narrowed the gap from 52 to 30 points at 82-52, but Denver’s power-jam exploitation continued to serve them well through the middle of the half. They were enjoying their biggest lead of the bout with about 10 minutes to play at 126-57.
Rocky had one last gasp in them — a 15-2 for Frida Beater, followed by a 5-0 for Whipity Pow and another 9-0 to Frida, cut 27 points off the Denver lead in a hurry to put the score at Denver 128, Rocky Mountain 77 with five minutes to play. But Denver closed the door for good when they got one last chance to agitate the crowd with their signature stopped pack, and Tracy Akers rolled for a 19-0, cheekily waving to a crowd lustily booing the strategy.
From there the outcome was academic, although there was a long injury timeout with only a minute left to play when RMRG’s Catholic Cruel Girl went down hard and had to be removed by stretcher — reports pointed to a shoulder injury but her condition wasn’t immediately known post-bout.
Denver’s 151-103 victory leaves them in third place for the weekend.
Semifinal: (1W) Oly 178, (3W) Denver 91 — Denver’s vaunted slow game confounded Kansas City, Windy City and Rocky Mountain, but Oly seemed to shrug it right off in this semifinal match. After 10 minutes, Oly had run up a twenty-point lead at 25-5, and Denver didn’t break into the double digits until the final 10 minutes of the half. Heather Juska changed a 49-9 score into 49-14 with a grand slam on a power jam. That didn’t presage any Denver comeback, though. By halftime Oly was up by 60 points and had tripled Denver’s score at 84-24.
As they’d do to all their opponents, Oly managed to take control of the speed of the pack, which was critically important in marginalizing Denver’s slow game. Rarely did Oly skaters get trapped behind Denver walls — and as importantly, Oly was able to keep their jammers out of the box fairly consistently, not allowing Denver to get many of the powerjams where their style was most deadly.
Denver’s second half was much stronger offensively, but they gave up even more points — Oly won the second half 94-67 and easily advanced to the championship bout against Texas while Denver would have to settle for a rematch with local rivals Rocky Mountain in the third-place match.
Semifinal: (1SC) Texas 139, (2W) Rocky Mountain 82 — RMRG’s run of upsets in the 2009 tournament cycle finally came to an end as they went up against a focused Texas team that had the strength to deal with RMRG’s physical play and then some. While RMRG held a short-lived lead after the first two jams of the bout, Texas went ahead 9-6 and never gave up the advantage.
With 9 minutes left in the first half, Rocky Mountain was in a 49-21 hole, but rookie sensation Whipity Pow busted out a 20-4 run as her defense brought the pack to a crawl during a powerjam. That made it 53-41 and Rocky narrowed it to just 10 points at 56-46 with 5 minutes left in the first, making it look like they had a chance to retake the lead — but Texas retaliated in the time remaining, with the help of a 18-0 jam for Rice Rocket. Texas held a 73-48 lead at the break.
Effective power blocking, especially from Bullet Tooth Tracy, Vicious Van Go Go and Curvette seemed to hamper the RMRG jammers and give them considerably more trouble than they experienced in their earlier bout. Texas broke the 100 point barrier at 113-63 with 17 minutes left, and Rocky Mountain never was able to put together another run at them. The most fireworks in the second half would be provided when DeRanged, blocking late in the half, apparently got frustrated with Texas blocker Angie-Christ after a high hit and took a swing at the back of Angie’s helmet, earning her an immediate expulsion — and a suspension for the rest of the tournament.
Texas advanced to Sunday’s 4pm final against West champion Oly; Rocky Mountain goes on to play regional rival Denver in the third-place bout at 1:30pm.
Quarterfinal: (1W) Oly 136, (2E) Gotham 105 — Oly took the lead early in this very fast-paced bout, but at about ten minutes into the game, jammer penalties started to bite the Oly girls. Gotham took the lead at 27-20 with about 17 minutes to play in the first half on a power jam, and in the following jam Oly lost their jammer again and allowed Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders to motor for a 9-0 that extended Gotham’s lead to 36-20.
Gotham threatened to pull away with it for the midpoint of the half, but with about a minute left to play in the half Oly had narrowed the margin to 55-50 and nearly erased the whole lead with a last-jam 3-0 for Tannibal Lector that put the halftime score at Gotham 55, Oly 53.
The lead switched hands multiple times in quick succession after Oly took the lead back on the first jam of the second half at 62-55. It was another Oly jammer penalty that opened the door for Gotham to get it back two jams later at 70-68 with still 25 minutes left in the bout — and then Oly moved right back in front at 73-72 on the following jam.
Things continued to spool out in Oly’s favor for awhile after that. With about 9 minutes to play and the score 113-85, though, things suddenly turned from smooth sailing for Oly to a total nightmare jam. Sassy was ejected with about 9 minutes to play on accumulated box trips, and immediately afterwards Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders followed nearly perfect offensive blocking from her team to drop a 20-0 jam on Atomatrix, who tried to switch to jammer defense without success. Gotham was right back in it at 113-105 and 6:12 left on the clock.
Oly’s Tannibal Lector pulled a controversial lead jam call next up to get 3-0 over Suzy Hotrod and get the Oly lead up to 11 points … and the next jam was the nail in the coffin, as Atomatrix struggled for a full minute but finally worked her way through a tough Gotham pack for lead while opposing jammer Em Dash back-blocked her way into the box. That ended with a 10-0 for Oly, the score at 126-105 Oly, and only 2:12 left to play. Oly dropped 10 insurance points in the last jam, and when Em Dash returned to the penalty box near the end of it, it was a done deal, sending the previously nearly invincible Gotham to their second loss in their last three games.
Oly moves on for a rematch with Denver with a trip to the championship on the line; in April, they played to a 170-168 final with Oly barely victorious. That bout happens at 8:45 EST Saturday night.
Quarterfinal: (3W) Denver 157, (2NC) Windy City 125 — Denver joined their local rivals Rocky Mountain as the second Denver team to lay an upset on a #1 seed, once again employing their extreme positional play to frustrate Windy City’s speed — and apparently the audience, who greeted most of Denver’s slowest packs with increasingly lusty booing as the bout went on. The teams traded the lead twice in the first ten minutes before Denver took it over at 28-23 with 19:40 to play in the first half.
Denver picked up a couple of huge jams due to employing the slow pack in power jam situations, able to get a 15-0 for Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang and a 20-0 for Angela Death to go up by 67-30 with 12:30 in the half. By halftime, Denver had nearly doubled WCR up at 101-52.
While the Denver lead bounced between about 30 and 50 points for the majority of the half, Windy made their final run with about 10 minutes left in the bout, with a 15-0 for Beth Amphetamine getting Windy City within shouting distance at 127-106. But the next jam ended in a bit of controversy, going 17-0 for Denver while Windy City protested that they’d been shorted points. The challenge didn’t stand, and Denver’s lead became 144-106. From there, Windy City was never able to get within 30 points again, and Denver took the second big upset in a row by a final of 157-125.
Denver moves on to take on the winner of Gotham / Oly in a bout that’ll take place later tonight at 8:45pm EST.
Quarterfinal: (2W) Rocky Mountain 128, (1E) Philly 121 (OT) — The new-look Rocky Mountain jumped all over Philly early in this one, holding a 28-3 lead after ten minutes built on consistent lead jammer calls. Philly seemed to be having a lot of trouble handling Psycho Babble and De Ranged as jammers, hoping to hit them out of bounds to force track cuts but rarely able to move them over that line.
Philly got their big chance on a shorthanded jam where RMRG’s jammer Whipity Pow pulled a big back block major trying to leap around Philly blockers, and Philly’s Elle Viento skated unopposed for a a minute; while it did go 10-4 for Philly, Elle also pulled a 4th minor at the very end of the jam. When RMRG’s Psycho Babble got a 10-0 on the ensuing powerjam, Rocky had taken a 47-13 lead with about 13:30 left in the first half.
Just when it looked like Rocky Mountain might be on their way to a shocking rout of the home team, they ran into two nightmare jams where they’d lose their jammer for a minute each;15-2 for Philly followed by a 9-0 suddenly made it a 12 point game at 49-37. RMRG was lucky to get out of the next jam with a 5-0 as the lead jammer, Philly’s Mo Pain, was boxed before scoring points and Whipity Pow needed the full 2 minutes to get a single scoring pass.
By this time it was 54 37 for RMRG with about 5 minutes left in the half, and the question was quickly becoming whether Rocky Mountain’s lead would survive until halftime. But Rocky Mountain stopped the Philly comeback for the final few minutes of the half, taking a 21 point lead into the intermission.
RMRG ran into some jammer penalty trouble early in the second half, and it allowed Philly to fight their way into the lead for the first time, 74-71 with 20:48 left to play. Mo Pain finished off that RMRG jammer penalty by adding a 10-0 on the next jam, and suddenly Philly looked to be in control, 84-71.
Although Philly was doing a much better job in the second half of claiming lead jammer and dictating the length of jams, RMRG didn’t let Philly just take it away. With 13 minutes left to play it was still only an 11 point lead for Philly at 85-74, and Rocky looked like they were just one powerjam away from retaking the lead. They closed to 92-87 after a 11-9 full-length jam with 10 minutes to play, and finally got that needed powerjam and retook the lead at 97-92 and 8 minutes left as Whipity Pow battled her way to a 10-0 while unopposed.
There was no rest from the drama as Philly’s Teflon Donna made it a two-point bout at 102-100, helped by a trip to the box for three of RMRG’s skaters, some great offensive clears from Robin Drugstores, and a questionable decision by RMRG to slow down the pack in the final scoring pass, which gave Tef just enough time to beat them on the inside for three critical points just as jam time expired.
Mo Pain called a 3-0 up next against DeRanged, giving Philly a 1 point lead at 103-102 with 4:30 to play — and it stayed barely in Philly hands at 111-107 going into what looked like it was going to be the last jam. DeRanged was up against Elle Viento, and for some time it looked like neither jammer would ever reach the pack as they were sprinting away — but DeRanged finally entered pack, got 4 and called it with zero for Elle, tying it at 111-111 with time expired.
The overtime jam saw the inexhaustible DeRanged back at the line again — this time against Teflon Donna. Both jammers broke through for their opening 4, but Teflon got caught up behind tough defense and had a lot of trouble in her second. Meanwhile, DeRanged finally caught up to her for the lap point that sealed Philly’s fate. One pass later, Rocky Mountain had killed yet another giant after their Western Regional takedowns of Rose City and Denver, and Philly was one-and-done at home in only their second loss of 2009.
Quarterfinal: (1SC) Texas 111, (3E) Boston 72 — This one was remarkably low-scoring over the opening few jams, with Boston holding Texas scoreless for the first three jams but only able to put together 4 points of their own. After ten minutes, Texas held a 18-11 lead, and then a combination of Boston penalties trouble on top of some tenacious front-of-pack play from Texas allowed the South Central crew to drop 36 unanswered points to bring the game to 54-11 with about 8 minutes left in the half. Although it wasn’t obvious at the time, that stretch of the bout would eventually be the deciding factor, as Boston ended up losing by 39 points.
Boston finished the half strong after the rocky middle stretch, though, and was still in it at 60-26 favoring Texas at the break. Boston played Texas very evenly for the first ten minutes of the second half, and more than a few times was able to impressively kill Texas power plays without giving up more than a couple of points. With that close play, the score was 69-34 with about 20 minutes to play, but a momentum-shifting 10-0 powerjam for Texas’ Rice Rocket gave Texas a 79-34 lead. The Texas lead got as big as 60 points, 95-35 with 12:35 on the clock, before Boston finally started making a comeback, but the margin was too big and the time left on the clock too little.
Texas moves on the the Saturday night semifinals, where they face either Philly or Rocky Mountain with a trip to the championship bout on the line.
(2E) Gotham 187, (3NC) Detroit 38 — For about two jams, it looked like Detroit might have one of the greatest derby upsets of all time in them, as they held an 11-0 lead to kick things off. Gotham, though, rather quickly put paid to those hopes as their vaunted pack work and recycling began to click; that led to a 50-1 Gotham run that left the score at Gotham 50, Detroit 12 at the 15 minute mark. By the time halftime had arrived, Gotham was sitting on a 86-25 lead.
The second half was even more dominant for Gotham, as they dropped 101 points to just 13 for Detroit. Detroit’s Sista Slitchya was ejected about halfway through the second half for a big clockwise block on Ginger Snap, but by that time the score was far out of hand.
Gotham advances to play Oly in the quarterfinal round on Saturday.
(3W) Denver 175, (2SC) Kansas City 89 — This bout started out with extremely positional play from both teams, as neither team seemed interested in ceding the back of the pack on the opening whistle, leading to many very slow starts off the line. More than a few jams had a jammer start whistle more than 10 seconds after the pivot whistle, as jams consistently started with skaters barely moving towards the pivot line, or in some instances, scrambling backwards through the pack to get to their desired position.
On the bout’s fourth jam, the Denver defense played a power play to a hilt by isolating a single KC blocker so tightly that the pack remained at a dead stop for nearly a full lap. The style seemed to agitate the crowd a little bit, but it did get Denver an early 27-6 lead on the 20 point jam for Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang.
After a lengthy ref timeout was called at 15:36 left in the first half, the score was 31-19 favoring Denver. With the exception of that big jam, though, Kansas City was doing well — but then it was Denver’s Natalie Meagher taking advantage of Denver’s deadly isolation game to collect an 18-0 that threatened to push KC to the edge early at 49-19. One jam later it was still a 30 point difference at 54-24.
Timely rescue for KC came in the form of a much-needed 20 pointer from team captain Hall Balls as KC turned the tables on the isolation game and pulled within 10 at 54-44. Unfortunately for KC, Denver answered with 23 unanswered points over three jams, leaving KCRW again in a dangerously growing hole at 77-44 with about 90 seconds left in the first half.
The last jam of the half was practically the perfect example of Denver’s extreme positional style. Their isolation pinned a KC blocker behind them on a power jam, and when that blocker tried to escape the trap by running backwards on the track to put some space between them, the Denver pack literally followed her the wrong way on the track to stay close — and the KC blockers far in front followed suit to avoid a 20ft call, creating a situation where every blocker on the track was skating clockwise. Meanwhile, Denver jammer Kimmy Kimmy Bang Bang was racking up lap after lap, finishing with a 23-5 run that left Kansas City in real trouble at halftime, doubled up at 100-49.
Denver’s slow style continued to rile the audience as the bout went on — with the score 114-62 Denver and about 18 minutes left in the second half, Denver’s slow start off the line delayed the jammer start by a very long 16 seconds. One jam later, Heather Juska had an easy path to a 25-0 jam as Denver’s blockers once again headed in the clockwise direction to aggressively isolate a KC blocker in the rear, and Denver was up 142-62 with about 15 minutes to play. That jam was the definitive game-clincher, as Denver poured it on to go up 175-74 with just a second left to play. KCRW blocker Eclipse took the jam star in the final jam for an immensely crowd-pleasing 15-0 full-length turn, but the conclusion was long decided by then.
Denver moves on to battle Windy City at 1:30pm on Saturday with a trip to the final four on the line.
(2W) Rocky Mountain 239, (3SC) Houston 46 — The first three jams of this bout were pretty close, but Rocky Mountain changed a 8-0 lead to a 23-0 when their jammer Psycho Babble rushed for 15 points behind a killer defense, and Rocky’s superior pack maintenance soon staked them to a 48-1 after the opening 15 minutes of play. Houston’s offense was simply unable to get anything started against particularly hard-nosed defense from Frida Beater and DeRanged, and more than a few jammer penalties on Houston certainly didn’t help matters. Houston remained stuck at just that 1 point through 20 minutes, and the score was a disheartening 85-1 with under 9 minutes to play in the first half. The only bright point came on a 3-0 for Houston’s Speed-O, but the rest of the half was more of the same and Rocky Mountain held a dominating 142-5 lead at the end of the first 30 minutes.
By the time the second half began with a 13-0 RMRG jam for She Who Cannot Be Named, the only question was whether Houston would ever find some traction or whether RMRG would just keep dropping points on them. Houston’s second half was better than their first, with much more offensive output, but that half was still a rout by any normal measure as Rocky Mountain outscored them 94-41 in the final thirty.
RMRG easily advances to take on tournament hosts and the Eastern Region champions, Philly, at 12:45pm EST Saturday.
(3E) Boston 104, (2NC) Madison 98 — This back and forth contest — five lead changes and a mid-second-half tie — featured short segments where both Boston and Madison appeared to have the momentum on their side, but at no point did either team hold a truly comfortable lead. Boston held the lead early at 28-8 after the first ten minutes, and it looked like they were poised to take control until Madison dropped 3-0 and 10-0 to close to within 28-21. It was at this point that Madison started employing the usually rare star pass on a nearly regular basis. It opened up with a timely pass from Juke Boxx to Mouse in a jam that went 17-7 for Madison and gave them the lead for the first time at 38-35 with 13:05 in the first half.
Boston had been in rather significant penalty trouble multiple times in the half, often starting jams at a 4-2 disadvantage, but Boston’s jammers, particularly Claire D. Way, were having decent luck managing to pull critical lead jam calls even with that starting handicap. Still, though, Madison continued the run and pushed their lead to 50-36 with 8 minutes on the clock, and once again, just when it looked like one team was beginning to find their groove, a big blast from the opposing team reset the bout. This time it was Boston’s Claire D. Way managing to spin, twist and even split her way to a 20-0 jam that put the lead back in Boston hands, 56-50.
Of course, the way the game was going, that lead was safe for about 90 seconds before Juke Boxxx power-jammed her way to a 10-0 for Madison. At the end of the half, Madison was up 76-62.
The momentum — and lead — changes started again with 20 minutes left to play when Boston nicked away for ten minutes before finally edging ahead 82-80. The next jam saw Madison take it back on a 4-0 for Darling Nikki, immediately followed by a 2-0 for Claire D. Way, tying the bout at 84-84 with about 16 minutes left to play.
Boston pushed the lead to 104-88 with about 5 minutes on the game clock, but the rest of the scoring in the bout went to Madison. With 2:02 left on the period clock going into what proved to be the final jam, the Dairyland Dolls were down by six at 104-98 and needed at least two scoring passes to win or tie. But when the final jam began, it had a nearly farcical sequence that saw not one, not two, not three, but four jammer trips to the box in the same jam: Madison caught a huge break, squandered it, got it handed back to them, and then squandered it again.
Boston’s jammer Krushpuppy hit the penalty box early in her opening pass, giving the Madison fans something to get hyped about, but opposing jammer Juke Boxxx followed soon after with a major forearm that sprung Krushpuppy. But K-pup couldn’t stay on the track either, pulling a major track cut and immediately giving Madison another power jam. On coming out of the box, Madison tried to go back to the well that had worked earlier by passing the star to Mouse.
Mouse had what appeared to be about 30 seconds left on the clock when she finally broke out of the pack for the first time, just barely enough time to potentially get the two passes she needed to tie or win it for Madison. But before she reached pack on her scoring pass, her fourth minor was assessed — a track cut during that opening pass — and for the fourth time in the jam, the jammer was boxed. That trip, though, was the nail in the coffin, as jam time expired before Mouse was released from the box.
The period clock had 2 seconds remaining when jam time expired, but Madison’s bench realized they had time for a final timeout just a bit too late, and Boston escaped with a very dramatic win to advance in the tournament to a date with Texas at 11am Saturday.
Photos: Phil Peterson