The second day of the 2016 International WFTDA Division 2 Playoffs Lansing closed with an eagerly awaited game between the third-seeded Wasatch Roller Derby’s Midnight Terrors of Salt Lake City, Utah, and the seventh-seeded Charlottesville Derby Dames’ All-Stars of Charlottesville, Virginia, to determine which team would go on to play at the 2016 International Division 2 Championships in November. Although both squads showed a similarly hard-hitting style of play, Charlottesville demonstrated their recent D1 experience even though they came in as the lower seed. Wasatch simply wasn’t able to check the unending avalanche of points Charlottesville piled on in their 233-146 win.
Charlottesville opened with a 24-0 salvo for River Styx Phoenix when Wasatch’s Stache Bot went to the box on a back blocking penalty. Although the two teams put on a solid performance, Wasatch fought a running battle with a widening score gap from the very beginning.
“We were not expecting as fast a transition from defense to offense [from Charlottesville],” Bruiser Ego of Wasatch said. “We just couldn’t adjust fast enough.”
Even when Wasatch was able to get lead, a slew of blocker penalties kept their point count low. Sparkling strategic moments for Charlottesville, like when pivot Miller-Miller took the jammer star and accelerated past Wasatch’s Sookie Slaphouse to force a scoreless end to a jam that Wasatch may otherwise have scored upon, helped Charlottesville establish dominance on the track.
Both River Styx Phoenix and The Big Bangarang were able to put up huge jams for Charlottesville during the first half’s frequent power jams with 24-point and 30-point jams, respectively, thanks to a textbook-perfect mixture of passive and active offense from blockers to help keep the pack moving for quick points. Wasatch gamely tried to stem the losses with 12- and 13-point jams from Sookie Slaphouse and Wreckless as its blockers aimed to establish ownership of the inside line to harry Charlottesville’s jammers, but jammer penalties and an expulsion for Wreckless thanks to an egregious back block left Wasatch playing catch-up. Charlottesville took the first half with more than double the points Wasatch managed, closing the half 121-56.
Those watching only the first half would have been forgiven for thinking the game was in the bag, but Wasatch came back with a vengeance at the start of the second half. Although Charlottesville put the first points on the board of the half with a 14-4 jam, Wasatch took control for the next seven straight jams, earning lead every time and relying on smart blocking — even with just one blocker on the track at times — to cut a 75-point lead in half while holding Charlottesville scoreless, bringing the score to 139-99. It wasn’t a completely one-sided run, however, as Charlottesville was able to maintain a strong penalty kill against Wasatch’s Smashley O’Hooligan, who needed a 45 seconds to get lead despite starting on a power jam.
Wasatch pivot-turned-jammer Skull Candi continued to be a force to be reckoned with as she laid big hits and solid stops on Charlottesville jammers and blockers alike, hampering Charlottesville’s jammers while busting the pack wide open for her jammers, even making her own holes in the pack when she took the jammer star to put seven point on the board.
But a strong push from Wasatch was only enough to make Charlottesville stumble, not fall. Jammer penalties continued to define the game as Wasatch racked up 16 throughout the game to Charlottesville’s two, limiting their scoring. A glut of blocker penalties started to add up, too, as Wasatch lost two players to foul-outs in the last minutes of the game — in comparison, Charlottesville’s 18 total penalties for all players throughout the game only barely topped Wasatch’s jammer penalties alone.
Although the styles of play were similar, Charlottesville’s recent D1 experience showed through as they kept a calm head despite Wasatch’s experience, skill, and last-minute push, closing with a 233-146 win.
“It’s been a rough season for us, and this is what we needed,” The Big Bangarang said following the game.
With this win, Charlottesville will move on to face Calgary Roller Derby on Sunday at 6 p.m. EDT. Both teams are guaranteed a chance to play at the Division 2 Championships by finishing in the top two spots at this weekend’s Lansing tournament, but tomorrow’s game will determine which team will go in as Lansing’s top seed in November. Wasatch will face the Charm City Roller Girls on Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT to play for third place.
Wasatch Roller Derby (#3) 146
Charlottesville Derby Dames (#7) 233