Denver Roller Derby (Columbia #2) vs Arch Rival Roller Derby (Madison #3)
The two teams featured in Division 1 Game 1, Denver Roller Derby of Denver, CO (D1 Columbia #2, WFTDA #7) and Arch Rival Roller Derby of St. Louis, MO (D1 Madison #3, WFTDA #8), were no strangers to each other’s style of play; in fact, they met in a heated contest only five months ago in June. At that game Arch Rival managed to eke out a narrow, three-point win over Denver. And, as it often does, history repeated itself at the 2016 International WFTDA Championships. Arch Rival won 177-165 over Denver to advance to the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Defense for both teams was strong in the opening jams of the first period. In the second jam of the game, Denver blockers Goings, Anghel, and Barrett managed to hold Arch Rival jammer Swanson and then pivot-turned-jammer Shear-Ra Powers until just :13 remained on the jam clock. Denver jammer Klein picked up six unanswered points to deliver the first lead change of the game. Arch Rival opened the spread in the fourth jam, however, as jammer Bricktator picked up 19 points while her teammate and blocker Salty put on big hits against Denver jammer Blackman. The 19 points put up by Bricktator gave Arch Rival a cushion that they held onto for the rest of the period.
The cushion created by Bricktator allowed jammer Harmony Killerbruise to attempt some jammer-on-jammer action during her jams for Arch Rival. At one point, after getting lead jammer, Killerbruise tried to force Denver jammer Wilhelm back into the pack, but Killerbruise ended up getting sucked back in behind Denver’s Akers and the rest of the Denver pack. It took Denver six jams to gain 14 points, putting them just seven below Arch Rival, at 20-27, with just over 17:00 left in the first half. With Denver inching up, Arch Rival sent Bricktator back to the line; she tiptoed through the pack and then jumped the apex to take lead jammer and pick up 15 more points, extending their lead to 50-21.
Arch Rival got their first power jam as Denver jammer Gypin went to the penalty box for a back block, though Denver still managed a jam upset, outscoring Arch Rival 9-5. In the next jam, however, Salty’s ability to play both offense and defense, allowed K. Woodward to pick up seven points, denying Denver the chance to gain any real footing. The period ended with a 19-point differential and Arch Rival in the lead, 83-64.
“Well, going into this game we knew that it was going to be really hard,” Arch Rival blocker Smarty McFly said. “We played a lot of really close, hard teams this season, and so we knew going into Denver that — we only beat them by three points — that this would be a tough game.”
Arch Rival again used a 19-point push, this time in a 19-2 run, to assert their skating prowess on the track in the first four jams of the second half; at the end of the fourth jam, they eclipsed the century mark, 102-66. Two jammer penalties for Denver — an elbow for Gypin and a back block for Wilhelm — gave jammers Bricktator and Swanson a chance to score 30 points (Bricktator earned 19; Swanson nabbed 11) in jams seven and eight.
However, just after those 30 points, Denver began a rally that would bring them within five points of Arch Rival. The team outscored Arch Rival 56-21 in jams eight through 12, bringing the score to 129-144 in favor of Arch Rival. This run was made easier by two jammer penalties on behalf of Arch Rival: a cut track to Bricktator and a back block to pivot-turned-jammer K. Woodward. The ladies from Denver continued their climb, picking up 9 points from pivot-turned-jammer Akers and then 18 points from Wilhelm, who scored her points off an apex jump that afforded her lead jammer status. By that time, Denver had Arch Rival within reach, 156-161.
“I didn’t ever feel like we were safe during that game, and I felt like if we tried to play like that, then they would obviously – they could have easily taken it from us,” Smarty McFly said. “But I definitely felt like, through the game, the way that we were connecting as a team in our blocking, I felt like we had the upperhand most of the time.”
An official review with just 4:05 left in the game put Arch Rival jammer Swanson in the box for an illegal star pass. Despite the setback, Arch Rival remained calm, holding Denver jammer Wilhelm for 1:30 of the jam as Swanson picked up 10 points after spending her time in the penalty box. In the last jam, Arch Rival fielded Bricktator to Denver’s Klein. It was clear after Bricktator picked up lead jammer that she intended to run down the remaining 1:06 on the game clock; she stuck close to the pack, staying out of reach of the Denver blockers, and playing some jammer-on-jammer defense when she could. The clock ticked down and Bricktator called it off, clinching the win over Denver, 177-165.
“[This game had] a slightly unsettling finish, but a finish nonetheless that lets us go on to tomorrow, which is important because we didn’t make it to Saturday last season at Championships, and now we get the opportunity to play London, which is really exciting,” Smarty McFly said. “In my mind, I’m like, hey, this is the turning point; we belong here. We’re a good team and I felt pretty confident about my team. We want to do everything we can to replenish and be ready for tomorrow.”
Arch Rival moves on to play London Rollergirls on Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in Game 5.
Denver Roller Derby (D1 Columbia #2, WFTDA #7) 165
Arch Rival Roller Derby (D1 Madison #3, WFTDA #8) 177