Minnesota RollerGirls (#4) vs. Atlanta Rollergirls (#5)
The opening game of Day 2 at the 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Dallas saw Minnesota RollerGirls of Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S. (Seed #4, WFTDA #11) withstand a fierce challenge from Atlanta Rollergirls of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. (Seed #5, WFTDA #13) to claim a hard-fought 146–144 victory.
Minnesota jumped out to an early lead, with Jacked Pipes and Second Hand Smoke picking up lead in the first and second jams. With team Captain and ace jammer Brickyard sitting this game out due to injury, powerhouse blocker Smoke was tapped for the jammer rotation and made an impact, taking lead in seven of nine jams and 36 points, with a +12 differential. But with Minnesota holding an early 5–0 lead, Atlanta erupted with a 15 point jam and a lead change from TroubleMakeHer. The next jam saw Minnesota’s Pipes pick up lead jammer status before committing a penalty, which gave Jammunition a power jam and the opportunity to put up 11 points to Minnesota’s 9, bringing the score to 26–14.
Atlanta’s lead would hold through most of the first, but halfway through the period Minnesota began mounting a determined comeback. Recent transfer Ana Cheng took the star against Second Hand Smoke and picked up a double penalty for track cutting and insubordination. Smoke and her blockers capitalized with a big 18–0 jam that cut Atlanta’s lead to eight, at 53–45. Shortly after, Jacked Pipes took lead over Trouble MakeHer with big blocking contributions from Hurtrude Stein and Polly Punchkin, who ensured Atlanta’s jammer could not escape the pack, even after a star pass. A 9–0 jam for Minnesota put them back in the lead at 58–54. Though Atlanta put together several strong jams to keep them in contention, at the half the score stood in Minnesota’s favor, 91–84. Minnesota’s strong first half was due in large part to their skill in gaining lead jammer, with 14 leads to Atlanta’s six. Atlanta, for their part, succeeded in capitalizing on multi-pass jam opportunities.
The second half started much like the first, with Pipes grabbing lead for Minnesota and putting up a quick 4–0 jam. Minnesota continued to win the lead jammer battle over the next several jams, but couldn’t manage to pull comfortably away from Atlanta, with Atlanta’s cagey jammers even managing to steal some points when not lead. Afro Dykee emerged as a major threat for Atlanta, taking lead eight out of 11 times she had the star and putting up 81 points, with a +59 point differential. Leading the charge on Atlanta’s second-half comeback, Fro put up a 10–0 over Second Hand Smoke in jam 9, bringing the score to 121–101. Four jams later, Fro put up a 12–2 jam and a lead change, putting Atlanta back on top 135–127.
Shortly after, with just about five minutes remaining in the game, Minnesota’s Switch Please took lead over Trouble MakeHer and took advantage of a penalty call on the Atlanta jammer, putting up a 9–0 for yet another lead change, 145–138 in Minnesota’s favor. With time winding down and both teams looking for the knockout punch, Atlanta went on a power jam in the second-to-last jam with their highest-scoring jammer, Afro Dykee. She managed to score five points but the Minnesota defense was on lockdown, forcing her to call the jam in time to force one more jam and the opportunity to take the lead.
Heading into the final jam, the score was 146–144 for Minnesota. Minnesota sent Jacked Pipes to the line against Atlanta’s Trouble MakeHer. The formidable blocker line of Crust Almighty, Diamond Rough, and Hurtrude Stein were tasked with holding the lead for Minnesota, with their fourth blocker starting in the box. Both defensive walls initially held strong without much progress for either jammer, but finally Pipes was able to escape along the inside line. With period time expired, Pipes called the jam and an ecstatic Minnesota team celebrated the win and qualifying for a trip to the 2017 International WFTDA Championships Philadelphia.
Minnesota moves on to play Victorian Roller Derby League of Melbourne, Australia (Seed #1, WFTDA #1) on Saturday at 6 p.m., Central Daylight Time. Atlanta will face Houston Roller Derby of Houston, Texas, U.S. (Seed #11, WFTDA #36) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, CDT.
Minnesota RollerGirls (Seed #4, WFTDA #11) 146
Atlanta Roller Derby (Seed #5, WFTDA #13) 144