by Jim Almy
The ratio may have been 318-103, but it was only a partial measurement of the space between the Rose City Rollers all-star team, the Wheels of Justice (WOJ) and the Rat City Rollergirls All-Star Team (AST) after last Friday’s, August 22, bout in Portland.
Fourth ranked WOJ outscored Rat City’s best by a factor of three to one. WOJ jammer Scald Eagle had 123 of those points for the home team, out-scoring AST just by her own time on the track. But it wasn’t only WOJ’s potent offense nor the din created in the Hanger by a sold-out crowd of their supporters that beat AST. On that night in that venue WOJ was just tougher in all facets of the bout than their Seattle visitors.
AST jammer Luna Negra (#911) fought solid defense and steady recycling to pick up four points in the opening jam. Loren Mutch collected 14 for WOJ, breaking through AST defensive blockers quickly and making her first five-point pass less than 30 seconds into the jam.
WOJ blockers dominated the track. AST jammers juked and dived, aimed for the edges or just plain tried to bull their way through but generally found themselves directed down the line of purple defenders until they were on the wrong side of the boundary. AST scorers Sintripetal Force (#1618), Rawkhell SqWelch (#761) and Rumble Fist (#9) were shut out in the next three jams. AST was looking at the low side of a 48-4 score. In the last jam of that sequence WOJ jammer Tess Yinger and one of AST’s best blockers, Missile America (#321) engaged in a booty pounding battle that ended when Yinger planted her larger foe on the track, picking up the first of the 16 points she tallied in that frame.
Luna Negra and Sintripetal Force returned with jams of 14 and 12, Luna using her quickness to become lead jammer five steps into jam five and Sintripetal finding fleeting openings in the WOJ defense to halve the deficit, 60-30. But that was going to be the last of the AST offense the fans would see for a while. AST was shut out in 13 of the 21 first half jams. They scored one point each in two others.
LeBrawn Maimes (#23) had a scoring explosion of 19 for AST later in the half. Though she was pin-balled all over the track by the bigger, brawnier WOJ line, she stayed on her skates to make four point collecting passes. Missile America and Kendle Bjelland (#808) got into it a jam later with WOJ jammer Loren Mutch in an exchange of moves that well illustrated AST’s frustrations for the night. Missile and Bjelland hit Mutch every legal way possible as the lanky jammer worked to pass. The last rocket Missile fired was a well-aimed shoulder that sent everything in Mutch’s body above her ankles sprawling out of bounds in a stretched version of plastic man. But she kept her feet in, hopped along the line on her toes like a graceless ballerina, and passed Missile for another five points.
WOJ went on a steady run of point accumulation over the final jams, picking up nines, tens and elevens as they steadily increased their lead. It was 159-69 at the half.
“They’re a great team with a deep bench,” was how AST Coach Ho Chi Danh summed up the Portland team. “We needed more primary success, more of getting our jammer out first. But we learned a lot and nobody has their head down.”
It wasn’t like AST didn’t dish out punishment on their own. WOJ continued to score steadily in the second half, but not always that easily. In the opening jam AST put out four bruisers in Belle Tolls (#4), Carmen Getsome (#12), Raven Seaward (#53) and Missile America. WOJ all-world jammer Scald Eagle broke out quickly but, as she approached her first scoring pass, Carmen Getsome separated her from the track hard enough that the Portland jammer took out a row of barriers ten feet outside the track. No points for the Rose City crew in that jam
The WOJ deep bench began to take its toll in the second half also. AST scored 34 points over 22 jams and were shut out in 14 of them.
“They’re a fun team. We really enjoy playing against them,” said Coach Danh.
Sintripetal Force added that she and her teammates all felt like it was a hard game but that they learned a lot playing against such a deep line up. “We can come back from this,” she said.
AST selected WOJ jammer Tess Yinger as a Most Valuable Player. “She’s a reserve jammer who normally blocks but her jams were clean and strong,” said Sintripetal Force. “Their other jammers, Scald (Eagle) and (Loren) Mutch are just super, strong and squirrely,” she added.
Full Nelson was chosen as the Most Valuable Player by WOJ.
Coach Danh and the team generally agreed that the bout, though tough, was a good warm up for their opening match in the championship playoffs in two weeks in Sacramento. Playoffs begin the weekend of September 5-7. AST, seeded fourth, will open in the fifth game on Friday against the Terminal City Rollergirls from Richmond, B.C. Terminal City is currently ranked 18th worldwide. AST is 16th.
Gotham (NY), Denver, Minnesota and Santa Cruz are also in the Sacramento pairings, as well as teams from Tampa, New Hampshire, Kansas City and the Blue Ridge. The complete bracket can be viewed here: Sept. 5-7: Sacramento, California, USA – Women’s Flat Track Derby Association wftda.com
Luna Negra led AST scorers with 44 points, 31 coming in the first half. LeBrawn Maimes had 25, Sintripetal Force, 19, Rawkhell SqWelch, 9 and Carmen Getsome, 12. After Scald Eagle’s leading 123 points other scorers for WOJ were Loren Mutch, 76, Tess Yinger, 74, and Jessica Rodriguez, 41. AST was called for 33 penalties in the bout, WOJ for 37.