The 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Vancouver ended with a stunning display of talent in a hard-fought battle for first place. After trailing for most of the game, the Victorian Roller Derby League of Melbourne, VIC, AU, was able to edge out a 143-140 win in the final jam, defeating the Angel City Derby Girls of Los Angeles, CA, USA.
The blockers on both teams exhibited exceptional skill — walls repeatedly locked down some of the best jammers in the sport, with myriad jams not springing a lead jammer for 30-60 seconds. Seamless recycling, hard hits out of bounds, and carefully calculated runbacks forced jammers to fight exhaustively for every point they earned.
The defensive plays by VRDL kept the team in the game during a series of jammer penalties that cost them the lead for most of the match. Victorian jammers racked up 16 penalties during the course of the game to Angel’s three. VRDL’s extraordinary walls were able to kill several of the power jams, giving up only 11 points total during 12 of the power jams.
There were several lead changes during the first 11 jams of the game before Victoria’s jammer penalties began to really impact their play. A track cut by Giles gave Micki Krimmel the opportunity to put up 14 points, slicing through the pack and shaking off substantial hits from VRDL blockers that would have annihilated most other jammers to bring the score to 45-61 in Angel’s favor.
As the first half came to a close, consecutive Victorian jammer penalties opened up the track for Angel to create a bigger lead. Lady Trample cut the track on her scoring pass, only for Giles to then cut the track and get sent back to the box for an illegal re-entry in the following jam. Despite the full minute power jam for Angel City, VRDL blockers kept them scoreless for that final jam of the half, which ended with the scoreboard reading 72-81.
Looking to start fresh in the second half, Victoria continued to have jammer penalty trouble, as Mary Fagdalene was called to the penalty box for cutting the track. An illegal reentry added yet another penalty, and Satan’s Little Helper was able to score nine more points for Angel.
Satan’s Little Helper had a 100% lead jammer rating until her last jammer start of the game when Mary Fagdalene shot out of the pack. After struggling for nearly the full two minutes to break free on her initial pass, Satan’s Little Helper cut the track and gave VRDL a power jam with only minutes left and a narrow lead of 135 to Victoria’s 133.
That power jam in Victoria’s favor was short-lived, however, as Giles cut the track on her initial pass. Satan’s Little Helper was able to widen the Angel lead to 133-140 going into the last jam of the game.
It was in the final jam of the game that penalties caught up with Angel City as well. Mary Fagdalene quickly earned lead jammer status as Ghetto Fabu-lez was sent to the penalty box. Angel’s blockers soon followed with Soledad fouling out of the game, leaving just one on the track to defend against Mary Fagdalene’s quick footwork. After two grand slams and the critical lead change, Mary Fagdalene waited for the final seconds of the game clock to wind down, giving VRDL the 143-140 victory and the gold.
Both teams will head to the 2016 International WFTDA Championships in Portland, OR, USA November 4-6, along with third place Rat City Rollergirls, to battle for the Hydra.
Victorian Roller Derby League (#1) 143
Angel City Derby Girls (#2) 140