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This weekend, the (20) Ohio Roller Girls will skate in their final home bout this season as they welcome in Pittsburgh’s (28) Steel City Roller Derby.  A long-standing rivalry continues as these teams will meet for the fifth time, and the third time in the last year and a half.  Ohio and Steel City first met back in 2007 when Ohio was victorious 134-131, but Steel City got their revenge two years later, 125-98.  Then, a four year hiatus, mainly due to regional affiliation, kept these two teams apart.  The battle was renewed last season as a scheduled home-and-home series saw these squads face each other in each of their home venues.  In April 2013, Ohio hosted Steel City and got off to a quick 102-9 start.  An amazing comeback by the Steel Hurtin in the second period cut the deficit to only 23 points, but Ohio held strong to secure a 246-162 victory.  Then in August, Ohio traveled to Pittsburgh and won a nail-biter 184-179.  Historically, Ohio and Steel City have always played each other well, and with an average margin of victory only being 39 points, this next matchup is bound to follow in its footsteps.

Steel City will come to Columbus with an impressive 6-3 record this season.  Their three losses were all to higher ranked teams in Charm City (Baltimore), Tampa, and Philly.  Steel City’s victories came against Low Country (Charlestown, SC), Houston, Stockholm (Sweden), Toronto, Little Steel (Youngstown, OH), and Naptown (Indianapolis).  The most impressive of these wins was their most recent against Naptown, a 190-89 drubbing in Pittsburgh.  Earlier this season, Ohio travelled to Naptown where they fell short to Indianapolis 163-140.  This eye-opener by the Steel Hurtin has made Ohio aware that Steel City appears to have improved their play as their season has progressed.  As if they needed more motivation, Ohio will be Steel City’s final bout before playoffs, and the Steel Hurtin will be firing on all cylinders as they proceed into the postseason.

Steel City features a trio of jammers in ‘Snot Rocket Science, Leannibal Lecter, and Hurricane Heather.  All three jammers are extremely fast, mobile, and able to avoid the big hit.  Most importantly, however, is their ability to limit their penalties.  Science, Lecter, and Heather aren’t jammers that pick up penalties often while wearing the star on their helmets, which means Ohio’s defense will have their work cut out for them.  Trying to clear the way for the jammers are Steel City’s pack players Ally McKill, sMEL U, Athena, Dakota Slamming, Redrum Blur, and The Kraken.  The core of Steel City’s defense has been around for years and operates as one smooth machine.  With a defense very similar to Ohio’s, expect very physical jams, with points being a premium.

Ohio is coming off a 306-83 victory over the Cincinnati Rollergirls two weeks ago that bumped their season record to 9-6.  Also headed to the postseason following their bout with Steel City, Ohio is looking to enter the playoffs on a high note, and a victory over a powerful Steel City team would certainly point OHRG in the right direction.  Jamming for Ohio will continue to be The Smacktivist, Kitty Liquorbottom, and Lora “Outa My” Wayman.  The last couple of bouts have also seen an increase in playing time for TactiGal, who may also take a turn or two with the star on her helmet.  Assisting the jammers will be Amy Spears, Jesse “Ava Tarr” Fox, Burnadeath, Ena Flash, and Sarah Bruce, who will be returning to action following a two-bout leave of absence.

As previously mentioned, both Ohio and Steel City will be appearing in the postseason, with both earning a spot in the Division 1 Playoffs.  In fact, due to the S-Curve ranking system set forth by the WFTDA, both Ohio and Steel City will be playing at the same playoff location, Evansville Indiana, during the weekend of September 19-21.  The Ohio Roller Girls will be a #5 seed, and will be paired against the #4 Jacksonville Rollergirls.  Steel City is a #7 seed and will play #10 Arizona in the opening round.  Win, and Steel City will play later in the day against #2 Texas.  The winner of the Ohio/Jacksonville bout will advance to square off against #1 London Rollergirls (UK).  The top three finishers at the Evansville tournament will automatically secure a place at the 2014 WFTDA Championship tournament in Nashville.  Last year, Ohio finished 2nd at their playoffs and advanced to Champs for the first time in league history.  At Champs, Ohio defeated Rat City before eventually losing to four-time world champions Gotham.

Andrew Marron