A physical battle from first to last whistle, the second game of the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Montréal tournament pitted an original WFTDA member team against a relative newcomer.
Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, the Sun State Roller Girls made their first appearance at WFTDA playoffs in 2015, entering as seventh seed. This year, they started the tournament seeded eighth, one above their American opponents, the Detroit Derby Girls.
Although Detroit held the lead for the duration of the game, Sun State refused to let up, coming within striking distance of overtaking the veterans on more than once.
Sun State struggled with jammer penalties early in the first period, giving Detroit an opportunity to claim a comfortable head start on the scoreboard. Three Sun State jammers were in the penalty box for back blocks in the first eight jams. But after a quick reset, adapting to Detroit’s aggressive and solid defense, Sun State’s more agile jammers were able to rack up enough points to be within 13 points by mid-period.
Detroit’s blockers struggled to contain the powerful and compact Baby Rocket, who snuck through imperceptible gaps before the blockers had a chance to react. Meanwhile, Detroit jammer Racer McChaseHer’s aggressive push through the pack was met by Sun State’s solid formation and relentless recycling.
After a time out for Detroit, the team emerged with a different plan and one-on-one offense that systematically pulled apart Sun State’s defense. Detroit’s varied jammer line up, from the sheer physical force of Racer and Swift Justice to the agile speed of Jilleanne Rookard and the patient and powerful Feta Sleeze, pushed Sun State’s defense beyond its limits, and the team struggled to adjust quickly enough to shut it down.
Headed into halftime, Detroit had gained a comfortable 50 point lead, but the second half proved far from a cake walk for the Motor City.
Sun State slowly chipped away at the gap, capitalizing on several power jams and splitting up Detroit’s formidable formations with a swift burst of offense. Detroit started racking up more penalties in the second half, opening the door for Sun State to regain some of the ground it had lost late in the first.
The Australian team’s jammer Jambi, who was stuck churning in the middle of a mass of Detroit blocks for many a jam in the first half, found her stride in the second, snagging quick points with a spin of the hips before her opponents had time to get back to the pack.
Despite a heavy push from Sun State at the end, Detroit kept their calm and clung onto the lead. Detroit’s Racer McChaseHer, showing the depth of her experience, relentless pushed through a newly-refocused Sun State defense, earning a standing ovation from the crowd when she somehow managed to snag a handful of points on only six wheels after a truck broke off her skate mid-pass.
But the Sun State surge came too late for the Australians. Despite once again coming close to overtaking their American opponents in the last minutes of the game, the opportunity slipped away as Detroit pulled ahead again, racking up more points on power jams.
A Detroit jammer penalty in the last jam of the game drew a huge cheer from the crowd, who were clearly pulling for the scrappy underdog Aussies by the end, but, stunned from a hit to the gut, Sun State jammer Jambi spent the dying seconds of the game in the box after a track cut.
Detroit claimed a 24-point victory and will go on to play #1 seed London at 6 p.m. EDT. Sun State will enter the consolation bracket, playing at 10 a.m. tomorrow against the loser of this afternoon’s game between Bay Area Derby and Boston Roller Derby.
Detroit Derby Girls (#9) 204
Sun State Roller Girls (#8) 180