Angel Avenges Denver, 186-152

This game was, at least for Angel City, the most anticipated of the tournament. Since Denver took away Angel City’s climb through the WFTDA Championships in Milwaukee last year, when Denver took the game 200-125, Angel City was always going to see this game as the opportunity to set that record right, and test their new relative rankings standing for 2014.

Denver has a history of getting their points in early, and maintaining their lead into the second period, if they can. So in this game, the first period was always likely to be the determiner. And it proved to be so, with Angel City putting up twice as many points as Denver in the first half, 101-50 – a number which even a second period push-back, 102-85, from Denver was unable to even out, giving instead a penalty-heavy reply, 41 to Angel City’s 26, weighted towards forearm and cut track calls.

As through much of this tournament as a whole, defense was really the name of the game, with clustering and circulating walls, keeping the jammers in sturdy check. Denver’s usual jamming stalwart, Urrk’n Martin, absent from the tournament, may have shifted the balance in Angel City’s favor. While Angel City, usually quite conservative with their rostering, preferencing tried roster combinations and players, appeared to have jettisoned that approach this tournament (consistent with their well-rewarded longer-standing change-hungry approach to strategy and training). Some previously less-rostered players such as powerhouses Satan’s Little Helper and Octane Jane taking on key roles in this game delivered Angel City the win, 186-152.

First jam up, and Denver’s favorite starter jammer, Bucsek, was on the line against Angel City’s Cris Dobbins, and the pack immediately split into front and rear containment walls. But Bucsek was through and took a full four before Cris could get in a first scoring pass, handing the first points 4-0 to Denver. Second jam saw Rivas fell Chica and recycle her back, and then Soledad do the same to Dezellem, but Chica emerged with lead, regardless, putting up 2-0 unreplied points.

It was the fourth jam in before Satan broke through into lead, and pushed through powerhouse walls by sheer muscle power, handing a lead change to Angel City, with 9-0 points. So when several more lead grabs kept persistently plugging in further points, including an impressive 19 point jam in the seventh for Mickispeedia, it began to be clear that Angel City was in control of this game. Several attempted apex jumps by Denver in the remainder were very effectively blocked by Angel City’s alert defense.

Then a fumbled star pass for Denver left both covers abandoned on the track as the covers popped off in the re-placement, and both Denver’s pivot and jammer looked on from the box, leaving no active jammer for the rest of the jam. By half-time, the score sat at 101-50 to Angel City.

A power jam start to the second half might have spelled good news for Denver, but despite their doggedly climbing points into the second half, they were unable to close the solid lead Angel City had established in the first. Forced track cuts on Denver jammers plagued them into this half, seeing them boxed and recycled back repeatedly.

Not long after, a stellar unexpected star pass from Dobbins to regular pivot player, Laci Knight (formerly a banked track jammer extraordinaire), who brushed off opposing blockers, and came back and round again and again spelled time for a team time-out for Denver, and then another in the final seconds of the half to squeeze in an extra jam on a power jam start in their favor. Satan was out of the box rapidly, but not soon enough to deprive Sharpless of lead jammer status, and as the jam seconds counted off, they close to point matched 14-12, sealing the game for Angel City, 186-152.