RICHMOND, VA–As New Hampshire’s first WFTDA tournament, their very presence here in Division 1 has exceeded league expectations–and provoked a general atmosphere of joy and jubilation as they took the first game of the playoffs, with an unexpected but hard-fought 231–212 win.
The game was characterised by much more conservative jammer styles from New Hampshire and a far faster pace with slightly more devil-may-care from Jacksonville’s jammers.
The first jam set the tone for the game, as Jacksonville’s Jamsterella was sent off to the box before making it out of the pack, placing New Hampshire’s Swirko on a power jam. Meow Mix Yo’ Face took the final front blocking role and dampened the powerjam, but was unable to hold her–and the first 20 points on the board went to a jubilant New Hampshire.
In the second jam, Jax’Em emerged second from the pack but took lead nonetheless, although she struggled to keep up around the turn. She called the jam before Ovaries could make it around for a first scoring pass, maintaining the standing score.
Jacksonville finally got on the board the third time out as Crash Register, who proved a speedy, tactically aware and stalwart jammer for Jacksonville over the course of the game, eked out two points, taking the score to 24-2.
Jamsterella headed quickly back to the box for her second cut track, handing Scurrie a power jam–and she promptly jacked the points to 44-2, further widening New Hampshire’s lead. Jamsterella was sent to the box for skating out of bounds in jam seven but following an official review, the call was revised to a ‘knocked out of bounds’, springing her from the penalty box. That proved a turning point, switching her trend from what looked like 3 penalties in as many jams to her maintaining no further penalties in the rest of the period.
The pack responded by creating a speeding scrum–and for the next few jams, when Jacksonville took the lead, they widened the distance, with greater average speeds from their jammers.
New Hampshire called a timeout at with 19 minutes gone and returned to play with a strong duo front wall in their arsenal. At the same time, Jacksonville switched to a much heavier front wall presence with aggressive jammer recycling.
With two minutes left in the period, Jamsterella leapt the apex for points to hit a 6 point differential (the smallest margin of the game) and made it 108-102 to enter the final period minute. And after Crash Register was recycled with an aggressive rear defensive line and hefty bridging, the period ended with New Hampshire leading 116-102.
The second period opened with rapidly switching power jams and heavy jammer penalties on both sides. That in turn resulted in the scores advancing almost in lockstep, despite the occasional large changes following power jams.
Jacksonville’s Crash took a failed apex jump that went unpenalised–and instead Ovaries wound up in the box, leaving Jacksonville with a contentious power jam. That 14-point run ended with the score at 121-116 in Jacksonville’s favour.
A further track cut by Game Ovaries–her third penalty in the first four jams of the period–handed a powerjam back to Crash, with the track a sea of Jacksonville leopard print. They made the most of the opportunity, widening the gap to 140-116, and New Hampshire responded with their second time out, reducing their ability to eke out further time from the game in the final minutes.
Jacksonville’s Nuke picked up a penalty in her first turn with the star and Chicana attempted to call–unsuccessfully–with instruction from the bench. She wasn’t lead, but still took 29 points–but Nuke had taken some of her own and what seemed at first to be a 149-148 lead change was corrected to 151-149.
Jacksonville then called their first team time-out for the game, seeming to be aiming for a final re-group in the hopes of shfting game play in their favour for the final quarter of the game. Crash came back out, snatched 4 and called the jam off, indicating a possible new trend for the rest of the game, but Jamsterella and Ms. Jax’Em confounded this, holding on to their lead and including a little time-burning jammer engagement.
But then Jax’em is boxed and re-emerges for a final point scoring attempt, which went nowhere and was answered with cheers from the New Hampshire bench.
The penalties mounted all round and New Hampshire’s Liv.N.Fear teetered on 5 penalties as her team switched the lead in their favour just as Jacksonville’s Captain, Meow Mix Yo’ Face fouled out with eight minutes left in the game.
Jacksonville pushed forward into a lead change as their hit-and-quit tactics began to pay off into their favour, making it 194-191, then inching up almost evenly to 197-195–still in Jacksonville’s court, pushing the outcome of the game into a decision made by the final jams.
At that point, a low block penalty on Game Ovaries seemed to crush New Hampshire hopes of using this final six minutes to push past. Crash Register began to make use of the power jam, but called instead to secure a power jam start in their favour.
Ms Jax’Em took the next jam on headfirst with a toe-stop push through the swarming pack and came up and back through a reversing pack … but gave away the power jam with a forearm penalty.
Game Ovaries had a power jam of her own at 207-200 with her bench and supporters emphatic in support. She struggled with strong front walls from Jacksonville, but still pushed towards a lead change. As Jax’Em re-emerged to gather a further few points, she was boxed yet again on a low block after a final point dive. Score: 212-211 to Jacksonville. New Hampshire then called their final time out, giving them no time push available at the end game.
Chicana’s power jam pushed into a lead change and made it 216-212 for New Hampshire; her bench called for a crawling pace and conservative play to conserve time. Then Ms Jax’Em landed back in the penalty box on a cut, with just 53 seconds remaining to play. Jacksonville responded by calling a time out with only 18 seconds on the clock. With Jax’em in the box, Jacksonville was clearly hoping to hold or force penalties on Swirko, but instead she took lead and counted down the period clock before calling off the jam.
The final score was 231–212 to New Hampshire, leaving the whole team and their supporters beside themselves. They’ll next meet Angel City at 8pm EST tonight.