East 5th Place: 10E London Holds Off 5E Montreal, 137-135

BALTIMORE, MD — The 5th place bout of the 2011 WFTDA East Region Playoffs was the first WFTDA regional game played between teams not from the US — and turned out to be one of the most exciting bouts of the weekend. A 53-7 run to start the second half from London was the deciding sequence in London’s third seeding upset of the weekend, but Montreal rattled off a very impressive comeback that fell just one lap and a few seconds short in the end. After being down by 68 points early in the second half, they’d lose by just 2, 137-135.

Montreal took the first lead jammer after a very slow pack start from both teams, with Georgia W. Tush taking a 4-0 over Kamikaze Kitten; after another Montreal 4-0, London got the first powerjam opportunity of the game when Mange Moi El Cul was boxed. However, Montreal had an impressive penalty kill with Lil’ Mama, Smack Daddy, Jess Bandit and Chasing Amy all over London’s Stefanie Mainey in a slow pack; Mainey did manage to eventually get the lead for London with 10-0, making the score 10-8 after three jams.

Georgia W. Tush picked up 5-0 on a natural grand slam to put Montreal back up 13-10; two jams later, Montreal’s Smack Daddy and Cheese Grater hammered London jammer Ninjette while Montreal’s Ti-Loup put up a 15-0. London called their first timeout with 19:48 in the first half and the score 31-10 Montreal.

The timeout worked to London’s advantage — the London defense, led by Grievous Bodily Charm and Axis of Evon, held back Tush while Kamikaze Kitten picked up 6-0. The next few jams were fairly close but narrowly spooled out in London’s favor, inspiring Montreal to take their first timeout with 15:17 left in the first half and the score 35-22 Montreal.

With the score 35-26 a few jams later, Montreal’s Iron Wench had lead jammer and had almost finished a scoring pass when she hit the box; Kamikaze Kitten used the powerjam to take the lead 41-35, although not without taking some serious punishment from Montreal blockers Smack Daddy and Mange Moi El Cul. Vagablonde extended their lead to 45-35 next; both team’s jammers Mange Moi El Cul and Stefanie Mainey were boxed on the followup, but Mainey got all the points in a 7-0, putting London up 57-35 with 6:43 left in the first half. That 22 point margin was exactly the same at halftime, with London leading 68-46.

London came out of the break strong, winning the first 6 jams of the half and taking lead on 5 of them to extend their slight lead to a controlling one at 112-53; Montreal took a timeout with 22:24 left to play in an attempt to stop the bleeding. But London refused to be slowed, increasing their advantage after the clock stoppage to 121-53. That 68 point lead was London’s largest of the game. It wasn’t until 12 minutes had passed in the half that Montreal finally got a lead jammer status, picked up by Iron Wench — but she could only convert it to 4-0. Two jams later, Montreal had an opportunity partially slip away when their jammer Ti-Loup had about 20 seconds of unopposed time but joined London’s Vagablonde in the box; however, Montreal did manage to get a desperately needed 12-0 on the jam to make it 121-69, and Iron Wench added a bit more with a bang-bang 4-1 jam to make it 122-73 with 13 minutes left.

Montreal’s comeback continued over the next few jams with the help of a big jam for Iron Wench; Stefanie Mainey was boxed as Iron Wench ran up a big score and then Mainey went right back to the box in a failed apex jump. That put the score at 122-97 London, and Georgia W. Tush got her team to within 11 points with a 14-0 that made it 122-111 with 5:26 to play.

When London finally got their jammer back, though, they managed to put the brakes on the Montreal momentum just in time. Kamikaze Kitten got 7-0 to make it 129-111 London with 3:51 left, but London had an unfortunate pack disadvantage next with a 4-2, and Iron Wench answered with 7-0 of her own to make it an 11 point game again at 129-118 with 2:22 left.

Georgia W. Tush took lead jammer against Kamikaze Kitten and took 5-0 to make it 129-123 with 1:20 left on the game clock; Iron Wench took lead jammer over Vagablonde but had to fight hard just to equalize with 4-4; she called the jam with three seconds left on the clock to give Montreal one last chance, still trailing 133-127.

Iron Wench was up against Kamikaze Kitten in the final jam, needing at least two scoring passes to win. She managed to pull a crowd-exploding lead but had a very tough time in her opening scoring pass — but Kitten was completely stuck for almost a full minute. Right when it seemed that Wench would sneak up the inside to get out for 5 with Kitten still stuck, Stefanie Mainey nailed Wench into the infield with a game-saving hit; Kitten finally escaped the pack and put up a 4 point pass that put the margin just barely out of reach. Though the jam went 8-4 to Iron Wench, it wasn’t enough to make up Montreal’s 6 point deficit, and London won a thriller, 137-135.

London had the second-ever biggest improvement from initial seeding to final placement in a WFTDA tournament by going from 10 seed to 5th place; their record on the weekend was 3-1 with other wins over 7 seed Carolina and 6 seed Boston and a loss to 2 seed Philly. Montreal went 2-2, beating Carolina and 8 seed Dutchland while also losing to Steel City; they finish in 6th place, one spot below their initial seeding of 5.