Tampa Roller Derby (#7) vs. Ann Arbor Roller Derby (#10)
The first matchup of the 2017 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Seattle saw Tampa Roller Derby’s Tampa Tantrums of Tampa, Florida, U.S. (Seed #7, WFTDA #21) face the Ann Arbor Roller Derby Brawlstars of Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S. (Seed #10, WFTDA #30). Tampa defended their superior seeding from beginning to end with intense concentration, as Ann Arbor’s few lead jams employed a hit-and-quit strategy that was not able to close the point differential that continued to increase in Tampa’s favor.
Tampa dominated the first half of the game with slow packs that at times barely advanced past the pivot line. Winters (formerly Laryn Kill) got the first lead of the game for the Tantrums, scoring four unanswered points against a grinding pack. Ann Arbor’s Helen Killer then went to the box in the second jam of the game, allowing Tampa’s Smooth Operator to score 20 additional points. Fracture Mechanics was the first to put points on the board for the Brawlstars, scoring two before calling off the jam. The second lead of the game for Ann Arbor went to Elle O’Hell, but with Winters hot on her heels and a hard hit to the outside, she was forced to call off the jam before she was able to score.
Tampa’s ability to shut down opposing jammers when at a power jam disadvantage was impressive. With 12 minutes left in the first half, Phelony PhatBottom of the Tampa Tantrums went to the box on a track cut penalty, but opposing jammer Slamuel L. Jackson was knocked to the infield and made to reset behind the Tampa blockers. Slamuel passed the star to her pivot, who also struggled behind the tight Tampa wall while Phelony came back from the box, swiftly skating through the pack and scoring 11 unanswered points before calling off the jam and ending a disheartening first power jam for Ann Arbor.
In one of the most riveting jams of the game, Tampa’s Tara Her Apart landed a spectacular apex jump that afforded her lead, dodging a hit to the outside on her scoring pass with a spin and pirouetting through the pack once more to put 14 unanswered points on the board. Packs sped up as Ann Arbor’s frustration began to show and their walls became scattered.
Although Ann Arbor returned from halftime more focused and ready to decrease the point differential, the second half mirrored the first as Tampa kept a firm grip on the game, asserting their dominance in practically every jam. The first jam of the half started with Brawlstar Lezzie Arnaz playing defense to compensate for the two Ann Arbor blockers in the box, but Winters darted through to obtain lead just six seconds in. Early in the second period, Helen Killer initiated a three-jam lead streak for Ann Arbor, racing through an open lane on the inside line and coming around for her scoring pass seconds after Tampa’s screen offense freed Tara Her Apart from Ann Arbor’s wall, only to become stuck behind the Tampa blockers while Tara flew by the inside line. Helen Killer responded with four more points of her own, calling off the jam as Tara Her Apart was hit out of bounds with a powerful hip-check from Ann Arbor blocker Michelle O’Bomb Ya and ending the jam 189–59 in Tampa’s favor. Tampa’s momentum continued throughout the rest of the period, earning consecutive lead jammer statuses in the last seven jams and taking the game by 181 points.
After a tough season in which they’ve lost many key blockers, Tampa Roller Derby has focused on rebuilding itself, pulling up skaters from their B team and practicing the cohesive gameplay they demonstrated in today’s game. “We focused on what we could do in terms of defense and offense for our jammers and weren’t too concerned with what Ann Arbor was doing against us,” said captain Winters. “If there was a problem we addressed it and then focused on what we could do to play our game.”
Tampa Roller Derby moves on to play the number two seeded Angel City Derby Girls later today at 6 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. Ann Arbor will play the loser of Game 8 (which pairs the number one seeded Rose City Rollers against the winner of Game 4) Sunday at 2 p.m. PDT. Winters says viewers can expect “fire and intensity” from the Tampa Tantrums. “We are going to go in guns blazing. We know Angel City isn’t going to take this game lightly and neither are we.”
Tampa Roller Derby (Seed #7, WFTDA #21) 280
Ann Arbor Roller Derby (Seed #10, WFTDA #30) 99