D1S: #7 Tampa Vexes #6 Santa Cruz, 278-101

SACRAMENTO, CA–On paper this match looked set to be close, with the 7-seeded Tampa Roller Derby challenging 6 seed Santa Cruz, and the first fifteen minutes delivered on that promise. From then, though, it was all Tampa all the time as Santa Cruz struggled to keep their skaters on the track and break through the Tantrums’ heavy defence. Tampa punctuated their dominance emphatically, closing the game with a 10-minute 64-0 run to secure a 278-101 victory.

Little A blasted out of the gates with a 17-0 jam to open the game for Tampa, but after Ace Wenchura and TARAism made it 17-12 and Panty Bandit landed in the box on a forearm, Queen Litigious looked to be in a position to take the lead for Santa Cruz. She struggled with Tampa’s defence though, even as Panty Bandit cut her way back to the box, and the jam ended with Tampa leading 25-21 with seven minutes gone.

That action set the tone for the first quarter–the sides proved evenly matched in lead jammer calls and points-scoring, as well as penalties to both blockers and jammers. Both sides relied heavily on three- and four-walls, Tampa generally taking the back, and both sides seemed to struggle when switching to offence–teams would send a skater up or back to assist their jammer, but all too often let their opposing jammer past in so doing.

Santa Cruz took the lead ten minutes in, only for Tampa to reclaim it next time out at the hands of PhDiesel. The game stayed close until Little A scored a power jam as Ace Wenchura landed in the box; despite sterling defensive work from Shamrock’n’roller at the front of the Santa Cruz pack, she parsed that into a 27-10 jam to give Tampa a 72-47 lead with fifteen minutes gone, a jam that proved the game’s turning point.

The Tantrums were able to slowly stretch that lead over the next ten minutes, seeming content to grab a couple of points each jam while holding the penalty-troubled Santa Cruz side scoreless.

A 7-0 run of lead jammer calls for Tampa saw them break the century mark with five minutes to go in the first period–but Ace Wenchura picked up lead and broke Santa Cruz’s scoring drought with a 9-0 run, only to pick up a skating out of bounds penalty as she attempted to call the jam. Santa Cruz then called an official review, stopping the clock with 4:20 in the period and Tampa leading 110-59.

The penalty was upheld, though, and put a pin in Santa Cruz’s momentum; Tampa closed out the period with a 24-0 run to take a 134-59 lead into the locker room.

Tampa continued in similar form when play resumed, setting up a wall at the back, securing lead jammer, often forcing a star pass on Santa Cruz, and picking up a handful of points while keeping the Santa Cruz jammer contained. Ace Wenchura put up SC’s first points of the half eight minutes in to make it 151-64.

That marked the start of a mini-run for Santa Cruz as they picked up lead jammer status three times in a row, only to see their momentum arrested by a back block call on Kamikaze Rozy as Little A jammed for Tampa. Rozy returned to play only to be sent out again on a low block just before the jam time expired; an official time out then saw her earlier back block call assessed to be egregious and she was expelled from the game.

The Tantrums hit the double-century with 13 minutes to play, 201-99; three minutes later, the Bombshells scored their first century to make it 214-101–and there they stayed. A couple more power jams in Tampa’s favour simply proved the nail in Santa Cruz’ coffin as the Tantrums pushed ahead to a 278-101 victory.

With this win, Tampa secure a date with Terminal City in tomorrow’s fifth-place game; Santa Cruz will meet Kansas City for seventh.