Bay Area Derby (#3 seed) of San Francisco, California, and Boston Roller Derby (#6 seed) of Boston, Massachusetts came into the third game of the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Montréal with evenly matched records on the season. Bay Area went 3-3 for the year playing sanctioned games at only two tournaments. Boston sat at 4-4 in their season, which ran from April to July. Bay Area skated away from this game as the team to successfully up their win percentage for the year above 50% and continuing in their quest to reach the 2016 International WFTDA Championships, taking the game 187-131.
A frantic first half saw huge momentum swings, with only three of the 20 jams in the first 30 minutes resulting in less than a full scoring pass for at least one team thanks to ambitious jamming and clever blocking. The New England team would jump out to a quick 26-0 lead with their three lead jammer statuses matched by a Bay Area jammer penalty before Bay Area found their stride, with April Bloodgate scoring 17 points for the Californians. With just over 10 minutes gone, Boston’s Space Invader took lead jammer against the odds in a 2-1 pack that favored Bay Area. Bay Area’s Pressure Cooker, having trouble with the agile blocking style of Boston, ended up with her third and fourth penalties of the game, allowing Boston to push its lead to 50-21. Pressure Cooker did not return to the jam line in the first half.
Although there was some concern about Bay Area jammer turnover from their successful run to Champs last year, the offensive play by Bay Area’s blockers alleviated those worries. Instantly effective sweeps and strategic positioning by the likes of Murderyn Monroe and Brawllen Angel allowed new-to-the-team jammers like April Bloodgate to chip away at Boston’s lead. Meanwhile, Boston’s jammers found themselves stymied by Bay Area’s flat four-wall of defenders, and desperation led to penalty trouble. Bay Area’s Sterling Archer would tie the game for them with a 14-0 jam while Boston jammer Space Invader sat in the penalty box for a back block, tying the game at 67-67 with just over ten minutes left in the half. Further penalty trouble for Space Invader and a star pass to Boston pivot Sweet enemy allowed Bay Area jammer Eva Menace to grow the lead for Bay Area to 100-71.
With six minutes left, Flyin’ King found their stride, putting up 10 points for Boston and besting the Californians in a jam for the first time in seven jams. Despite King’s late-half points, more penalty concerns for the Boston jammers in the final jams of the half meant that the score favored Bay Area 122-85 at halftime.
The second half saw a decrease in points per jam as both teams adapted to their counterparts’ offensive hits and used star passes to put pressure on the lead jammer and limit scoring. Overall, Bay Area managed to adapt better to their opponent’s strategy and took the first two jams while Boston pivots Caitlin Monaghan and Sweet Enemy received the jammer covers mid-jam to try to stem point loss. Bay Area utilized a star pass two jams later to force HardCore to call the jam for Boston after scoring nine points.
With ten minutes gone in the half, Bay Area put on a penalty kill clinic while managing to keep Flyin’ King scoreless as Huck Sinn sat in the box for an entire minute. Boston blockers tried to play offense during the power jam, but the timing was just a bit off, and Flyin’ King was unable to capitalize on the holes their blockers created. The very next jam saw April Bloodgate get through a Boston pack three times as Bay Area, wise to Boston’s star passes, started putting a blocker on Boston’s pivot to keep them away from the jammer, putting them in a position to contain the pivot-turned-jammer should a star pass occur. This strategy allowed April Bloodgate could score for longer without allowing Boston to earn a scoring position. Similarly, while Bay Area was masterful at hitting the jammer out and containing, Boston often didn’t run back to draw a cut track penalty on the opposing jammer or found themselves separated when Bay Area’s jammers re-entered the pack, allowing the Bay Area jammer to quickly exit packs after being knocked out.
Despite continual pressure from Boston, Bay Area’s lead stayed steadily between 40-60 points throughout the second half, but their gameplay was determinately more dominant than in the first half. The final jams would see Boston display the same brilliance that started the game with HardCore, Space Invader and Flyin’ King all earning lead jammer and outscoring Bay Area 23-0 while pouncing on power jam opportunities, but Bay Area’s second-half lead was insurmountable, leaving the final score 187-131.
Bay Area will play in the semifinals at 2 p.m. EDT tomorrow against the winner of today’s 4 p.m. game between the Texas Rollergirls (#2 seed) from Austin, Texas, versus the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (#10 seed) from Denver, Colorado. Boston moves to the consolation bracket to play the Sun State Roller Girls from Brown Plains, Australia, at 10 a.m. EDT tomorrow.
Bay Area Derby (#3) 187
Boston Roller Derby (#6) 131