Gotham Girls Roller Derby of New York ( #1) vs Denver Roller Derby of Denver, Colorado, U.S. (#5)
The fight for the bronze at the 2017 International WFTDA Championships Philadelphia saw Gotham Girls Roller Derby of New York, New York, U.S. (Seed #1, WFTDA #3) face Denver Roller Derby of Denver, Colorado, U.S. (Seed #2, WFTDA #5) in their first non-final Championships appearance since 2010 after a weekend of underdog upsets. Gotham was able to pull together after a shaky first half, taking the win 178–128.
Gotham’s Miss Tea Maven made a break out of the pack in the first jam, but a late out-of-play hit against Denver blocker Akers, who allowed Denver’s Wilhelm to pick up lead jammer as Maven went to the box, followed quickly by two Gotham blockers. Despite a huge hit from VanEssa “V-Diva” Sites, who played with a broken hand, Denver racked up early points with a series of small jams and a 13-point run for Gypin, so by the time Giles earned the first lead jam status for Gotham, even her four points still left the score 33–4 in Denver’s favor. With fast packs stretching the extent of the engagement zone, Gotham blockers had to fight to capture the Denver jammers and keep their formation against quick, punchy offence. Gotham’s Roxy Dallas cleared the inside line for jammer Space Invader, but Denver’s Wilhelm took advantage and darted through the gap instead, leaving Space to fight for 45 seconds before making her initial pass and while Wilhelm picked up another 10 points..
A regular pairing for the game saw Denver’s Scald Eagle face off against Gotham’s ShortStop. Both faced fearsome blocking, as Scald pushed her way past a wall led by Gotham’s Brazilian Nut while ShortStop was wedged in a fearsome wall of Wierzbinski and S.H. Long, but ShortStop’s fast feet saw her pick up three points to Denver’s nine. A track cut for Gotham jammer Giles saw her teammates Fast & Luce and Sexy Slaydie held back by Denver’s oppressive blocking contingent, but Denver jammer Klein struggled to capitalize on the advantage.
With 17 minutes remaining in first period, Denver looked set to dominate at 57–12. Gotham’s Giles picked up the pace with a couple of speedy laps and 14 points against Denver jammer Klein and some clever footwork to avoid Akers and Brawn Swanson, who owned the front of the pack. ShortStop was then shut down by the Denver wall and Scald Eagle racked up 16 points to increase Denver’s lead.
With both teams favoring tripod-style walls, Gotham jammers found their way by spinning and toe-stopping around blockers, whereas Denver favored a more physical approach and made their own gaps in walls of opposing blockers. With eight minutes to go in the first half, Denver picked up its first jammer penalty, and ShortStop was eager to take advantage of well-timed offense to fly up the inside line and grab nine points. A tactical change saw Gotham move into a more defensive formation with jammers often being left to make their own way through the pack, as containment became the primary objective of the New Yorkers. It seemed to work, as Gotham held Denver scoreless for seven straight jams. THe halftime finished at 90–66 in favor of Denver, but Gotham was picking up steam.
The halftime break saw a more determined Gotham return to track with a series of decisive jams, earning lead jammer status in five of the first six jams of the half and outscoring Denver 42-3 — enough to changing the scoreboard in their favor and then some. Denver broke its 10-jam scoring drought with a fast jam from Scald Eagle, but the effort earned just three points — not enough to overtake the lead.
After a jaw-dropping start, Denver’s jammers experienced more difficulty getting through the pack in the second half, with Gotham’s switch to tighter defense-focused formations. Denver earned another opportunity when Gotham jammer Giles picked up a high-block penalty, giving Gypin a chance to pick up points and call the jam early to give Scald Eagle a power-jam start that gave Denver another 5 points and bringing the scoring gap to less than 10 points, making it 109-103. Cotten took her first turn with the jammer star for Denver against a depleted Gotham pack and earned lead, but was called on a back-block penalty on Brazilian Nut, giving ShortStop a chance to score as Denver blockers follow her to the box.
As Gotham forced a slower pace to the game, jammer Space Invader used the offence from Brazilian Nut to dance through the pack and increase the lead. Despite a barrage of hits from Denver blockers Swanson and Akers, the Gotham jammers managed to curl their bodies around the backwards-blocking Denver skaters and wedged the score gap open, outscoring denver 38-4 in the middle of the half.
Gotham continued to seek out every available point and led the game 151-125 with six minutes remaining in the game — not an insurmountable gap, but with several looming retirements for Gotham giving those last few minutes extra weight, it seemed that the team was determined to go home with a medal in hand. Gotham’s blockers forced the Denver packs apart, opening the door for a 14-point jam from Giles. A crowd-pleasing dance-off during an official review left three minutes on the clock, and while Denver continued to try to close the gap, a series of penalties left them with depleted lines that impacted their defensive capabilities.
As ShortStop and Scald Eagle took the track for what would prove to be the final jam of the game, the diminutive Gotham skater took home a final 4 points to seal a strong recovery from a shaky start from Gotham, giving the New York team a place on the podium with a victorious third-place finish.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby (Seed #1, WFTDA #3): 178
Denver Roller Derby (Seed #2, WFTDA #5): 128