There were a number of upsets along the way to the Championship game at the 2016 International WFTDA D2 Playoffs in Wichita, and the final game was no exception. Someone had to lose between Brandywine Roller Derby Belligerents of Downingtown, PA, USA (seed #4, WFTDA #47) and Blue Ridge Rollergirls of Asheville, NC, USA (seed #7, WFTDA #55). Despite an early lead from Blue Ridge, the Belligerents never lost their cool, and it was that aplomb that put the Belligerents on top during a close run for the title in Wichita and an attempt at a Division 2 first place game at Championships in Portland. Brandywine won the game, 146-123.
Brandywine took lead jammer in the first jam, but it was Blue Ridge that followed up the initial lead with 10 total points in subsequent passes. That 10-point gain paved the way for the team to go up early over Brandywine, all the way through the first 10 minutes of the game. The run was due in part to the blocking power and persistence from Blue Ridge’s Coma N. Ducer, Dixie Kicks, Brutal, and Pocahotmess; the group held Buenos D. A$$ to a full stop while their jammer grabbed points. After putting on the star twice and failing to gain lead, Blue Ridge’s Dr. Octopushy took lead during the third jam for her team, proving that the third time is the charm. She scored 13 points during her third jam – the game’s seventh – and put up one of four total double-digit scoring runs throughout the first period.
It wasn’t until a nine-point power jam from Buenos D. A$$ that the Belligerents tied up the score at 30. From that point, the game stayed in Brandywine’s favor through the first half. Blockers ThumpHER and Rapid ArrhythMIA held jammers from Blue Ridge, keeping them scoreless for five jams in a row, during which time Brandywine scored 22 unanswered points. A wrinkle in the Belligerents’ plan happened when go-to jammer Lurz Lemon went to the box on a late hit after landing an apex jump after the whistle – a call for which the team requested an official review, and lost. Lemon sat in the box, but blockers KickAsh and Ke$ha Later helped neutralize the power jam. The half ended six minutes after Lemon’s penalty, which was enough time for Blue Ridge to bring the spread to a mere five points, 68-63 in favor of Brandywine.
“We’ve worked really hard to change our defensive strategy, starting about two months ago,” Blue Ridge jammer Dr. Octopushy said. “We’ve really upped our training, and that helped us immensely.”
The five-point lead dwindled to only two in the opening jam of the second half, and then the lead changed, going to Blue Ridge, after a five-point jam from Blue Ridge’s Lady Rider. Buenos D. A$$ and her blocking crew headed by Slamshine Allie and KickAsh, refused to let the lead remain in Blue Ridge’s favor. After a track cut forced by the Belligerents, when Hurrycane Jackie went to the box, Brandywine picked up 15-unanswered points. The lead changed again, this time in favor of the ladies from Pennsylvania; they went up by 12 to 83-71. After that point, the third jam in the second half, Brandywine never let the gap get narrower than five points, something the Brandywine fans celebrated.
“We have a small group of fans with us, our super fans, and they brought with them some great energy,” Brandywine blocker Slamshine Allie said. “They brought it all to us and we certainly felt their positivity.”
During the sixth jam of the second period, neither jammer got through the pack. For a full two minutes, the blockers blocked, and the jammers attempted – and failed – to escape. The locked up score seemed like it might continue in following jams, but Blue Ridge’s Lady Rider snuck through a stiff pack to score nine points, three jams later, with 16 minutes left in the game. And that was the closest Blue Ridge got, as Brandywine slowly but surely continued to widen the gap.
“We’ve trained so hard, and we’ve had struggles this season in getting together as a team, but tonight we were all together, and we were one, fierce pack,” Brandywine jammer Lurz Lemon said.
The lead scorers for Blue Ridge were Lady Rider with 49 points; Dr. Octopushy pulled 31 for the game and 288 for the tournament – the highest scoring jammer and MVP recipient at D2 Wichita. For Brandywine, Buenos D. A$$ scored 59; Lurz Lemon, 54; and Raggedy Aneurysm, 29.
Brandywine Roller Derby jumped from seed #4 to first place, earning a trip to the Division 2 Championships tournament in Portland, OR, USA. Blue Ridge jumped five spots from seed #7 to second place, and has also earned their spot in the Division 2 Championships in November.
Brandywine Roller Derby (seed #4, WFTDA #47) 146
Blue Ridge Rollergirls (seed #7, WFTDA #55) 123