FORT WAYNE, IN — For the third time in the last three years, London and Montreal faced off in the WFTDA playoffs — but for the first time, the contest was in the tournament’s third-place game, putting a guaranteed berth in the WFTDA Championships on the line. Montreal managed to play a considerably cleaner and tighter game than they had in their semifinal loss to Ohio on Saturday, but they were also up against a tougher opponent; London earned their first trip to Champs with tough, smart defense powering a 230-129 win.
Although London took the narrowest lead possible with a 1-0 opening win, Montreal claimed the next four lead jammer calls and was up 16-1 after five minutes. Rogue Runner broke that streak on jam 6 by taking lead for London, but was boxed on a crowd-displeasing track cut; however, Montreal politely gave London a power jam of their own when Mel E Juana successfully called off that jam. It was 21-5 Montreal as the next jam started, but with Montreal suddenly reduced to 1 blocker on the track, Rogue out of the box first, and Mel E Juana picking up another jammer penalty, London dropped a big 30-0 to go ahead 35-21 with about 20 minutes to play in the first half.
The next jam started with Mel E Juana still in the box, and upon exiting she had massive trouble with tight defense from Raw Heidi, Shaolynn Scarlett and Grievous Bodily Charm; Kamikaze Kitten dropped 19-0 on that one and suddenly London had doubled up Montreal and more at 49-21.
London continued to assert control in the pack, effectively deploying stringing and rewinding to keep Montreal jammers frustrated. Still, though, Montreal didn’t allow any big jams in the mid game and was still in it at 62-23 with 14 minutes in the half; a three-jam small-ball rally there saw Montreal close to 62-34 with 11 minutes showing on the period clock.
At that point, it was Montreal finally getting the elusive big jam. Mel E Juana ran up 5 points before Rogue Runner was forced to the box; Montreal scored 13-0 and froze Rogue there. However, the advantage was lost by an Iron Wench track cut on the other side of the power jam; after the penalty dust settled, Montreal was still creeping closer at 71-59 with just under 7 minutes in the half.
Excellent defense from Stefanie Mainey and Kitty DeCapitate stuffed Georgia W Tush on the next one, though, letting London get some more daylight at 84-59; on the next, it was Shaolynn Scarlett and Frightening Bolt, Raw Heidi and Grievous Bodily Charm going to town on Iron Wench. That led to a natural 20-0 for Kamikaze Kitten, and London was again in control of the game at 104-59 going into the last three minutes of the half.
A jammer penalty on Greta Bobo in the half’s final jam made Montreal’s job a little harder at the break — Rogue Runner moved the scoreboard from 108-59 to 131-61 as the teams decamped.
London kicked off the second half with more damage, dropping a natural 10-0 in a jam that saw a rare Montreal star pass from Iron Wench to Jess Bandit; Georgia W Tush took lead on the next but could only manage to squeeze 1-0 out of it.
A jammer penalty on London’s Stefanie Mainey opened the door a bit for Montreal, as Iron Wench busted out a badly-needed 20-0 and gave the remainder of the power jam to Lil’ Mama. With the score 141-86 and plenty of time to play, Montreal still had hope — but once again, Montreal closed the door in their own face as Mama cut track twice in the same jam. That one went 15-4 to Mainey and Kamikaze Kitten used the rest of Mama’s penalty time to add a barely contested 25-0. After those two full-length jams, London was suddenly up by nearly triple digits at 181-86 with about 21 minutes to play.
Rogue Runner looked like she would get the margin into triple digits when she picked up lead next, but then it was her turn to pick up two track cuts in the same jam; Montreal narrowed it to 186-99 but then there was yet another jammer penalty jamboree when Mel E Juana hit the box in the following jam. It ended as a low-scoring 5-4 full-length for London, putting the score at 191-103 with 16 minutes left.
That sequence was effectively the deciding point of the game. Scoring dramatically slowed down for the rest of the game as the teams finally managed to consistently keep most of their players on the track. For a solid 11 minutes, London continued flirting with the 100-point margin but couldn’t quite make it; however, Montreal also couldn’t get any rallying started and the stalemate highly favored London.
As the game entered the final 5 minutes, Rogue Runner finally consummated London’s affair with the triple-digit margin by putting up a 12-0, making it 222-112 with three minutes to play; the final score saw London up by 101, 230-129.