ASHEVILLE, NC — In the first semifinal of the Asheville playoffs, Gotham advanced as expected to the tournament final — but Minnesota made it a little harder than expected. Minnesota seemed to still have a shot at the upset with 16 minutes left, but Gotham took over in the last quarter to win 234-101.
Though Gotham’s margin of victory was still overwhelming at 133, it was the closest any WFTDA team had come to Gotham since the 2012 championship game against Oly — and a significant improvement on Minnesota’s 330-100 loss to Gotham at Midwest BrewHaha in June.
The first half was a crowd-pleaser as Minnesota came out clearly playing for a win rather than the respectable loss. While Minnesota did do a fairly solid job of denying Gotham any huge jams, MNRG was pretty much only able to score when Gotham was reduced to two or fewer skaters on the track. MNRG picked up half of their first-half points on a single 23-0 power jam.
Most of those Gotham blocker penalties came in the very early going of the first half. Although Gotham’s Bonnie Thunders pulled a short 3-0 to start the scoring action, Gotham was reduced to just one blocker on the floor during the second jam, and the revolving door continued for the next two jams, leaving Gotham with one blocker available for the majority of them. Minnesota led 12-6 after that sequence.
Gotham nicked 2 points off that score before the first jammer penalty went against Minnesota lead jammer Slambda Phage, as she back-blocked Bonita Applebomb off her skates during her first scoring pass. MNRG put up a decent penalty kill against Suzy Hotrod, but the jam still ended with Gotham taking the lead at 21:30, 26-16.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the lopsided penalty situation that had handcuffed Gotham early changed to favor the New Yorkers. With Gotham consistently having the numbers advantage, Minnesota could not get a lead jammer call and was blanked for a series of seven jams; that made the score 66-16 Gotham with about 14 to play.
The teams traded single-pass there, making it 72-20 Gotham going into the last ten minutes of the half, and then Gotham finally gave up a power jam as Claire D Way was boxed; the stars aligned for Minnesota as Gotham had only two blockers on the floor to hold Second Hand Smoke back, and that went as a big 23-0 run that got the crowd back into it at 72-43 with about 7 minutes to go.
The next jam ended in complete chaos as the refs effectively destroyed the pack by sending every single Minnesota blocker to the box at the same time, leaving jammer Harmony Killerbruise as the only Minnesota player on the track against five Gotham skaters. Somewhat luckily for Minnesota, the jam was called dead by the officials before scoring due to the snafu.
Minnesota was only able to score in one more jam in the half, and only got a point of margin out of it as Second Hand Smoke had taken 4 and curiously waited until Gotham’s Vicious Van GoGo had penetrated the pack to call it off. It ended 4-3; meanwhile, Gotham kept putting up single or double-pass scores and broke the century mark on the last jam of the half at 101-47.
Minnesota managed to moderately eat into the Gotham lead over the first ten minutes of the second half, moving the score to 113-67. MNRG gave up their second jammer penalty when Second Hand Smoke back-blocked her way to the penalty box, but they got a significant break when Suzy Hotrod was boxed as Gotham jammer late in the same jam. It went 18-4 Gotham, but Slambda Phage had a little time to work alone on the next and managed to equalize the power jam swap with 14-0. It was 131-86 with 16 minutes to play.
Gotham finally started putting their foot down at that point, though. Minnesota suffered frustrating setbacks on the next two jams, as heavy Gotham defense from Hela Skelter, Davey Blockit, Sexy Slaydie and Bonita Applebomb left Harmony Killerbruise and Slambda Phage fruitlessly trying to push them forward. Gotham moved the score to 156-86 over those two jams; Minnesota called their first timeout with 12:18 on the clock.
Two jams later, Minnesota once again lost their jammer to the box – this time Fannie Tanner on a back block – and Vicious Van Go Go put up a 16-0 to make it 172-86 with 9 minutes to play. Points were few and far between for MNRG for the remainder, and Gotham finally extended the margin to triple digits in the last three minutes at 206-101. When the game ended with back to back jammer penalties to Harmony Killerbruise, Gotham padded the final score a bit to 234-101.