Windy City Rollers (Seed #9, WFTDA #25) vs Ann Arbor Roller Derby (Seed #11, WFTDA #31)
Ann Arbor Roller Derby of Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S. (Seed #11, WFTDA #31) came into Game 9 of the 2018 International WFTDA Playoffs Atlanta looking for not only an upset against the Windy City Rollers of Chicago, Illinois, U.S. (Seed #9, WFTDA #25), but their first win in three tries at a WFTDA Playoffs tournament. Playing a calm, consistent game and taking advantage of their opponent’s penalty troubles, Ann Arbor made a statement with a thrilling 213-185 win.
Higher-seeded Windy City raced out to a 35-8 lead in the first ten minutes. Windy City’s jammer core earned 60% of the lead opportunities during the first half, but Ann Arbor managed to adjust their defense, shrugging off a few double-digit jams from Windy City early on to keep the lead within reach.
— Snowy ︽✵︽ (@elainesnowden) September 22, 2018
Ann Arbor wasn’t to be dissuaded. After a couple of big-scoring jams for Ann Arbor midway through the first half tightened the score, the teams began to trade lead statuses and points, with Windy City managing to maintain a slim points advantage throughout. In the last jam of the half, Windy City’s Mia Go Hamm took lead, but a backblock earned her a trip to the penalty box. Opposing jammer The Hammer took advantage, putting up 13 points for Ann Arbor to Mia’s 7, despite solid defensive work by Windy City’s pack. This earned Ann Arbor their first lead of the game, sending them to halftime with 99 to Windy City’s 96.
While Windy City started the second half with another jammer penalty, their defense was up to the task, forcing Ann Arbor’s Helen Killer to call the jam with no points. Unfortunately for Windy City, jammer penalties were a consistent theme in the second half, which allowed Ann Arbor to build on their advantage. The teams came into this tournament with remarkably similar jammer penalty stats, with Windy City at an average of 9.7 jammer penalties per game vs. Ann Arbor’s 9.9, but in this game Ann Arbor’s jammers skated much cleaner, a huge factor contributing to their win.
— Thomas Huseby (@ThomaswithanH) September 22, 2018
Halfway through the second period, Windy City looked to close the gap as The Hammer earned a low block and Shake N Bake put up a 9-1 score. After a 10-0 run for Windy City’s Perrin in a wild jam which saw both team’s jammers go to the box, the score narrowed to 153-141 Ann Arbor. That was as close as Windy City would get. Ann Arbor’s jammers skated clean through the final 10 minutes while Windy’s had two more penalties. Though Perrin picked up lead for Windy City in the last jam, it was not enough to overtake Ann Arbor, and the game ended with a solid victory for Ann Arbor at 213-185.
In the post-game interview, Ann Arbor Captain Slamlet commented, “The intensity level was really high. One of the things we’ve been working on this weekend is keeping that D1 intensity.” Acknowledging the work her team had put in to best a higher-ranked squad, she said “This is our third year here, and every year we’re learning a lot about how to play at this level. Clearly we’re getting the hang of it. We really want to keep that going and keep playing at a high level, learning what that’s like and continuing to succeed at that level.”