2017 D2 Playoffs Game 18:
Tucson vs. Columbia

Tucson Roller Derby (#2) vs. Columbia QuadSquad Rollergirls (#11)

When Tucson Roller Derby of Tucson, Arizona, U.S., (#2) faced off against the Columbia QuadSquad Rollergirls of Columbia, South Carolina, U.S., (#11) earlier this year on Columbia’s home turf, the QuadSquad rolled to a tight victory — but at the 2017 International WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs and Championships Pittsburgh, it was the Tucson team that managed to claw its way into an even narrower two-point win.

Viewers could be forgiven for assuming Columbia had the game in hand if they only watched the first few jams — the team racked up a 17-0 lead in the first five minutes — but that gap would prove to be the largest in the entire game. In a telling move, Tucson nearly destroyed the point margin in a single 15-0 jam for Mystery Meat as her blockers held Columbia’s jammers tangled in the pack for her entire point run, bringing the gap to just two points — still in Columbia’s favor, though. The teams traded low-scoring jams as both Tucson and Columbia skated cleanly to start the game, forcing jammers up against full four-walls on jam starts.

2017 International WFTDA D2 Playoffs and Championships Game 18:
Photo by Steve Jurkovic

The momentum swung in Tucson’s direction after Pixie Axe grabbed lead for the Arizona team, calling the jam from the ground after a huge hit from Columbia’s Chuck-Town Bruiser, but with the lead momentarily in her team’s hands. That lead held for barely five minutes, though, and the first half would see three more lead changes and a tied jam before expiring. Columbia’s Rox Ann Stones and Sour Hour made Tucson’s jammers work for their points, while Blaxican Bomber and Judo Gnomi wreaked havoc on Columbia’s jammers and blockers alike, but none could get the game fully contained. Columbia went into halftime with a narrow 6-point lead, 70-76.

Although Columbia dominated the lead jammer status in the first half, the calls split more evenly in the second half, allowing Tucson to get on the scoreboard first with a single point in a heavy-hitting jam that saw blockers being taken out just as aggressively as jammers. Speedy, low-scoring jams dominated the beginning of the second half as jammers tailed each other out of the pack to limit their opponents’ point opportunities, despite offensive efforts from Columbia blocker Naughty or Knicely and Tucson’s Midnight Crasher.

Despite the second half’s frenetic pace, it saw just one lead change, putting the game in Tucson’s favor six minutes into the half on a chaotic two-minute jam that allowed Mystery Meat to fight her way to nine points after spending nearly a minute just trying to get out on an initial pass. Meanwhile, Columbia’s Must Dash, the team’s high scorer, sat in the box and then dealt with a broken skate truck. Tucson managed to hold Columbia scoreless for two more jams despite losing core blocker Midnight Crasher after too many penalties, but Columbia’s Poison Violet narrowed the gap to single digits again by ricocheting through the pack and using her opposing blocker’s hits to propel her to safety with points in hand. Columbia standout blocker Agent Cherry Maim’her got in on the jamming action to relieve her team’s three-jammer core, but was stymied by recycling Tucson blockers — though Cherry had the last laugh, sending two of them to the box on a single pass.

2017 International WFTDA D2 Playoffs and Championships Game 18: Tucson Roller Derby (#2) vs. Columbia QuadSquad Rollergirls (#11)
Photo by Steve Jurkovic

Both teams were losing blockers to penalties, but neither was able to establish a strong foothold, keeping scoring to single-digit passes for the rest of the game. That didn’t mean any lack of action, though, as packs were so tight and blocking so strongly that several jams saw nearly a minute go by before a lead jammer could be established. It looked like Columbia might have a breakthrough in the final two minutes of the jam, as Poison Violet put up eight points in a carefully-timed jam that preserved just enough time on the clock for one more jam while narrowing the gap to a mere two points. But in the final seconds, Shana Banana Hammock sprinted through the pack almost immediately for Tucson to grab lead jammer with only a few seconds left on the period clock and no time outs or official reviews remaining for Columbia, safely burning the last bit of time while maintaining the slimmest of leads. Still, that nail-biting two-point lead going into the final jam proved enough to cling to, giving Tucson the win with a final score of 125-123.

Tuscon will move on to play the Jet City Rollergirls of Everett, Washington, U.S., (#4) at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Columbia will play No Coast Roller Derby of Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S., (#9) at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.


Tucson Roller Derby (Seed #2, WFTDA #42): 125
Columbia QuadSquad Rollergirls (Seed #11, WFTDA #52): 123

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