FORT WAYNE, IN — In the second semifinal of the Fort Wayne Division 1 Playoffs, 6th seeded Ohio scored their second upset of the weekend by staying clean and smart against 2nd-seeded Montreal, who occasionally seemed to be firing a machine gun at their own feet. Montreal committed 12 jammer penalties, dug themselves a 78-point first-half hole and trailed by 62 at the half. Though the second half was nearly perfectly even at 74-73 Ohio, the underdog could afford to play a conservative endgame and rode a fine performance to a 212-149 win, a trip to the tournament final against top seed Denver, and a guaranteed berth in November’s WFTDA Championships.
Montreal’s loss means they’ll be up against London for the third year in a row at a WFTDA playoff tournament — but this time, with third place on the line, the game will be with the tournament’s final invite to Championships on the line.
A fast-paced but heavily defensive 0-0 started things off as Montreal blocker Cheese Grater kept solo control of Ohio jammer Phoenix Bunz for an impressive lap; the second jam of the game was a power jam for Montreal as Georgia W. Tush started the scoring at 15-0 and froze The Smacktivist in the box. Iron Wench added 5-0 on the other side — once again assisted by strong front-of-pack defense from Cheese — and Montreal was up 20-0 after three jams.
Ohio got on the board at about 5 minutes in with a 3-0 to Phoenix Bunz, and it was then Ohio’s chance to get unopposed time as Montreal had all 5 of their skaters get penalized on the same jam. That one went 24-8 to Ohio, making it a one-point game at 28-27 Montreal about 8 minutes in.
The penalties continued to rain down on the following jam as Ohio’s jammer was boxed once and Montreal’s twice during a chaotic jam that ended with Ohio taking the lead 42-37 and Montreal jammer Iron Wench watching from a full Montreal penalty box. As the next jam started, Montreal was again reduced to only one blocker on the track trying to hold back The Smacktivist. That went 29-0 Ohio and suddenly it was a 71-37 game with 18 minutes to play in the first half.
Once the penalty box situation finally got equalized, the scoring calmed down a bit but Ohio retained their advantage, up 77-41 at the midpoint of the half. But Montreal got an extremely tough break when jammer Greta Bobo was given a forearm penalty, took a moment to complain about the call and received a second minute for insubordination. For the third time in six jams, Montreal was left with one blocker on the track while The Smacktivist went wild; she put up 30-0.
On the other side of the extended power jam, it was Phoenix Bunz’ turn to enjoy the fourth Montreal 1-player pack, leading to 18 more points. It was 119-41 Ohio with 10:30 to play in the first half; Montreal would spend the rest of the game unsuccessfully trying to recover from that sequence.
Both Iron Wench and Pippi Ripyourstockings ended the next jam in the penalty box as their teams’ respective jammers, although Montreal came out on the better side of it with 17-0. After a lengthy official timeout to talk that one over, Montreal was able to keep an impressive rally going while blanking Ohio on six straight jams to a new score of 119-76.
That streak ended on a skating OOB penalty to Montreal jammer Lil Mama with about two minutes left in the half, though. Pippi Ripyourstockings picked up a 10-0 and froze Mama in the box, letting Phoenix Bunz finish the half on an Ohio 9-0. At the break, underdog Ohio led the 2 seed by 62, 138-76.
The first three jams of the second half were nearly even, with Ohio adding one point to their lead at 149-86, but Montreal suffered a jammer penalty on Mel E Juana that allowed Kitty Liquorbottom to add 10-0; immediately following that jam, there was another jammer penalty circus as Iron Wench went to the box twice and Phoenix Bunz once. By the time Wench got freed on the following jam, Ohio had extended their lead to 90 points at 174-84 with about 20 minutes to play.
Once again, Montreal started to rally by cleaning up their game, but they caught a tough break when a good-looking lead jam for Mel E Juana ended before scoring as a huge hit from Lil Mama on Ohio’s Outa My Wayman caused a injury timeout. Two jams later, though, they got another good opportunity on a power jam to Georgia W. Tush — that moved it to 180-112 and then Iron Wench used the other side of the advantage to ring up 15-0. With 11:30 to play and trailing 180-126, Montreal was finally looking better but starting to run out of time.
With the score 184-129, the teams once again both saw their jammers go to the box in a 5-5 jam — and then Montreal got a killer jammer penalty when Iron Wench was given an illegal procedure penalty — her sixth — for contact before the whistle. On that jam and the next, Ohio rattled off 16 critical insurance points that put them up 205-134 with only 5 minutes to play.
Though Montreal came out ahead in the last few jams, it was far too little far too late, and Ohio claimed their first-ever trip to Championships with a 212-149 victory.