Boston Roller Derby of Boston, Massachusetts, USA had a tough time finding a foothold in during Game 7 of 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs Montréal against the Sun State Roller Girls of Brisbane, Queensland, AUS; the Swarm truly lived up to their name, attacking from all sides to keep Boston from a track onslaught. The Swarm led by 77 points at one point, but the Massacre rallied to end with the narrowest of margins in the last jam of the game — one point. The Massacre proved their seeding in a final-second ambush, winning 172-171.
In 20 out of 28 jams of the first period, Boston remained scoreless; in comparison, Sun State was scoreless in only 11 jams. Those scoreless streaks – one lasting for nine jams – told the tale of the first half. The Swarm jumped to an early lead, going up 72-10 in the early 18 minutes of the game. HardCore, Boston’s jammer, scored the team’s first 10 points in a power jam as Baby Rocket sat in the box for the Sun State Roller Girls on a low block. Sun State blockers Dodge & Bolt, Stixx n Bonez, and Slay’er Swift locked down the Boston jammers, keeping them from passing through the pack, forcing them to the outside, recycling them nonstop, and ultimately wearing them down. In the meantime, Boston blockers seemed unable to hold any of the Swarm as the jammers juked, jumped, and wove right through the pack and up the oftentimes unprotected middle.
It wasn’t until a rally with five minutes remaining in the first half that Boston managed to begin a comeback that would follow them into the opening of the second half. Jammer Space Invader scored 14 points as Sun State jammer Jambi sat in the box for a track cut. Not only did the Boston jammers find their efficacy in the final moments of the first half, but so also did their blockers. Hard Times, Sweet Enemy, Emily Pawelski, and Amy Rock used the experience from opening jams to realign their defense, found their holds, and blocked the Sun State jammers, holding them to only eight points in the final five minutes. That realignment, however, came at a cost for the Massacre; blockers Hard Times, Pawelski, and Sweet Enemy ended the half with four penalties each.
The final jam of the period was a boon for Boston, as jammer Maya Mangleyou picked up 24 points; her blockers aided by two blockers, Coco Nuts and SX, who went to the box for Sun State. The Swarm also seemed discombobulated, unable to touch Mangleyou; jammer Trauma Junkie attempted a star pass to staunch the point bleed, but she cut the track in her attempt to pass the cover to Dodge & Bolt. Going into halftime, the teams saw 36 points separating them and a chance to skate for fifth; Sun State edged Boston 101-65.
Beginning the second period with a power start, the Massacre used the momentum gained at the end of the first to pick up 12 unanswered points in the first jam to inch closer to the Swarm. After the big pickups from Boston, the Swarm seemed satisfied with small point sneaks for the next several jams, keeping the Massacre at bay. A 28-point jam for Boston’s Space Invader with 17:33 left in the game brought the Massacre within eight points, 115-123. At that point, it looked like Boston might make its comeback complete; their blockers had found their walls, and the Swarm continued to look a bit rattled. With just over nine minutes left in the game, Swarm’s go-to jammer Jambi picked up 15 points on a power jam as HardCore sat in the box for Boston on a track cut; Sun State pulled away by 25 points, 151-126. The very next jam, however, saw Boston’s jammer Flyin’ King with 14 points, as the Massacre fired back.
Jammer penalties started to plague the Swarm, as jammers Baby Rocket and Jambi both sat for track cuts. Likewise, Sun State lost blocker Janosaurus Wrecks for the game, as she accrued her seventh penalty. Meanwhile, despite having high penalty numbers for blockers in the first half, Boston kept their walls tight and all of their skaters on the track. Maya Mangleyou led the charge in the final four minutes of the game, picking up 10 points, followed by four more from Flyin’ King. The 14-point gain put Boston on top, the first time in the game, by two points. Trauma Junkie scored nine in response, putting Sun State back in the lead. But Boston saw the opportunity, gathered their forces, and waited to strike.
The strike came in the final minute of the game; Mangleyou picked up lead jammer against Jambi from Sun State. Mangleyou snatched up four points as Jambi lapped hot on her heels with four points in her bag as well. Taking a risk in the final seconds, Mangleyou decided not to call the jam, knowing the clock was not on her side. The risk paid off as Jambi plowed into the back of a Boston blocker in turn three, picking up a back block and heading to the box. Prior to the last jam, the Swarm had a narrow 11-point lead. Mangleyou slipped through the pack yet again, and then once more. She scored 14 to Jambi’s 2, just enough to inch out a win, 172-171.
Boston moves on to play Rocky Mountain Rollergirls (#10) in Game 8 at 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Sun State will play the loser of Game 8 at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning for ninth place.
Boston Roller Derby (#6) 172
Sun State Roller Girls (#8) 171