OHIO FINISHES 2016 SEASON WITH 1-2 RUN AT PLAYOFFS
From a strict win-loss pattern perspective, Ohio’s performance at the 2016 International WFTDA Division 1 Playoffs in Madison, WI looked eerily similar to their trips to D1s in Evansville, IN in 2014 and Dallas, TX in 2015: a tough loss to a higher-seeded team in their first game on Friday, a much more closely contested loss in the consolation bracket on Saturday, and a sound victory in their final game on Sunday. As teams at Playoffs only know for sure who their first opponent will be, Ohio needed to be prepared not only to play Windy City in Game 1, but any of the other eight teams in the tournament over the course of the weekend, from #10 seed Mad Rollin’ Dolls to the #1-ranked team in the world, Gotham. Of the 16 skaters playing for Ohio over the course of the weekend, 13 had skated at D1s in previous years, giving the team a veteran advantage with a good dose of fresh blood in both the blocker & jammer rotations.
SCATTERED BY WINDY CITY, 152-210
The #8-#9 seed game promised to be a close one, as Ohio & Windy City have been closely ranked in Division 1 since the end of April. Windy quickly put up the first points of the game, but The Smacktivist was able to take a 10-9 lead for Ohio in jam 5. Despite Windy snagging lead more consistently, Ohio blockers refused to concede more than a few points at a time, frequently denying any gain at all. A steady jammer rotation of Gorges Curves, Lora “Outa My” Wayman, and Blitz Lemon in addition to The Smacktivist kept Ohio within striking distance of a lead change for the entire first half, with pivots Stevie Brown, Kitty Liquorbottom, Chainsaw, and Bigg Rigg taking star passes to minimize Windy’s scoring and force four scoreless jams. Gaining lead jammer status for each of the last four jams of the half, Ohio narrowed the point deficit to just 20 for a halftime score of 91-71.
Ohio’s defense tightened significantly at the start of the second period, holding Windy to small 2- and 3-point gains. Variations in the jammer rotation put Gorges Curves in blocking position to sweep Windy jammer Killanois off her feet, and Burnadeath trapped opposing blockers at the rear of the pack to guarantee easy points for her jammers. Windy capitalized on a power start for a 120-78 lead in jam 7, but with defensive assistance from Elektra Magneto and Bigg Rigg, Ohio regained momentum with 28 points over four straight lead jams. A handful of Ohio pivot penalties combined with a streak of lead jams for Windy left Ohio jammers fighting walls without the option of a star pass and allowed the Chicago team to open a 55-point lead with under 10 minutes remaining in game play. With Chainsaw drawing a track cut penalty on Mia Go Hamm and coordinating offense, The Smacktivist found space for a 14-0 jam; Kitty Liquorbottom followed up by playing defense with her blockers before sprinting around the track for 5 more unanswered points. A subsequent 27-0 jam from Windy put a comeback just beyond Ohio’s reach, but a 19-14 gain over the final few jams narrowed the final score to 210-152.
NEAR MISS AGAINST HELSINKI, 243-260
After their Game 1 loss, Ohio moved into the consolation bracket on Saturday to take on Helsinki Roller Derby, who had been dealt a 337-109 loss against Minnesota on Friday. Ohio hit the scoreboard first, but a 3-4 pack disadvantage and subsequent blocker penalties gave Helsinki room to gain a 22-8 lead by the fourth jam. The Smacktivist led a 13-point charge, bringing Ohio within 5 points of a lead change, but Helsinki immediately negated that progress, doubling their points over the next seven jams while holding Ohio jammers to single scoring laps or denying points altogether. Despite being down two blockers at the start of jam 13, Ohio redoubled their efforts, as Gorges Curves burst through the pack for lead status and a 14-2 gain while Helsinki’s jammer picked up a forearm penalty. Betty T. KayO forced Taru Saxelin to forfeit her lead status on a track cut penalty, and a second track cut call upon her return gave The Smacktivist a full minute of unchallenged scoring. Helsinki gave no ground on the power start, holding Wayman on her initial pass for over a minute, while Saxelin accrued a back block penalty to give Ohio a second power start opportunity. Easily picking up lead, The Smacktivist racked up five-point passes as Helsinki’s jammer received yet another penalty call, their fifth in four jams. Helsinki responded by posting 26 and 24 points in back-to-back jams, blowing open the narrow 8-point lead, but Ohio ran fast packs just before halftime to deny further success.
Down 148-97, Ohio began a steady assault on Helsinki’s jammers as the second half began, honing in their propensity for tiptoeing past blockers along the lines. Helsinki thus continued to suffer from ill-timed jammer penalties, allowing Wayman to snag lead and rack up Ohio’s first double-digit scoring run of the half. Two track cut penalties assessed to Mad Maloony in jam 4 provided Kitty Liquorbottom with time for 12 points, and The Smacktivist followed up with a 20-0 power jam with Helsinki’s jammer returning to the box on a back block penalty. Maiju Rinne managed to grab lead for Helsinki, but Val Holla immediately forced her out of bounds and into a penalty, allowing The Smacktivist to close the gap to 173-165. Lead change in reach, Blitz Lemon ticked off 4 neat points, and in her first time in the jammer rotation for the day, Val Holla tipped the scale for Ohio, 174-173. Taru Saxelin retook the lead for Helsinki, but stalwart defense on both sides all but shut down scoring completely for four straight jams, with Helsinki only scraping up a single point. As the Finnish team began to regain lost ground, Bigg Rigg and Chainsaw joined The Smacktivist and Val Holla in Ohio’s attempts to pull of the upset; with under a minute on the period clock, The Smacktivist raced into lead jammer position and fought for the comeback, but Helsinki held onto their lead for a 260-243 finish.
STORMING PAST NO COAST, 227-188
In their final game of the weekend, which would determine whether they finished the tournament where they started or dropped to tenth, Ohio faced off against No Coast, a team that had bested them three times before (most recently at the Skate to Thrill tournament in April). After a couple quick jams to find their feet, Ohio’s blockers ensured three power jams in a row, allowing Zee “Loraine Acid” Gulertekin and The Smacktivist to rack up a combined 32 points. No Coast began to accrue blocker penalties as well, leaving their jammers with minimal offensive help against Paige Bleed, Stevie Brown, and Gorges Curves. Holding No Coast scoreless for 6 out of the next 8 jams, Ohio amassed a comfortable 60-16 lead by halfway through the period, but a short string of blocker penalties allowed the Nebraska squad to more than double their points in just over five minutes. No Coast began taking larger bites out of Ohio’s lead, capitalizing on the second of two power jam opportunities with a 19-0 run and permitting only a 4-point gain in the last 8 minutes of the half. Ohio found themselves at a pack disadvantage as blockers cycled in and out of the box, and a second 19-0 jam finally boosted No Coast to a 91-90 lead.
Sneaking through on the inside line, Gorges Curves immediately turned the tide in Ohio’s favor in the second half, hoisting 9 points for the fourth lead change of the game. After trading a few points, Slam posted a 13-0 jam for No Coast to retake the lead once more. Ohio nipped at their heels, but gave up a power jam and power start that allowed No Coast a 23-8 gain over two jams. With Sunshine hot on their heels, The Smacktivist stole lead and played one-on-one defense for a 0-0 gain in jam 9, burning 45 seconds off the period clock. A back block penalty assessed to Fancy at the start of the following jam provided Gorges Curves with an advantageous 5-0 power jam; No Coast blockers followed their jammer to the box, and The Smacktivist exploited the power start and a second straight power jam for a clean 25 points and the sixth & final lead change. With several blockers in danger of fouling out, No Coast struggled to slow the Ohio onslaught, with Paige Bleed stymieing Slam’s exit from the pack on a scoring pass to allow Gorges Curves to match points. The last 15 minutes of gameplay displayed some of the best examples of Ohio’s teamwork this year: agile, constantly adjusting defense; acute track awareness in critical moments; and power & endurance in jamming. A slew of double-digit scoring runs by Wayman, The Smacktivist, and Gorges Curves maintained an ever-growing lead that stayed just beyond No Coast’s reach, while Quiet Storm, Stevie Brown, and Betty T. KayO switched seamlessly between offense & defense. With No Coast blockers beginning to foul out, Ohio sailed over the 200-point mark, amassing 42 points in the final 5 minutes for a 227-188 victory.
In a tournament weekend that saw two-thirds of their roster taking the star at least once, Ohio accrued 622 points over the tournament weekend, beating their previous record high by 58 points. Anchored by leading scorers The Smacktivist, Gorges Curves, and Lora “Outa My” Wayman, they picked up 278 points over 35 power jam opportunities, earned lead jammer status in 48% of jams, and shut down opponent scoring in 56 out of 135 total jams played.
Representing Ohio Roller Derby at Playoffs were: Elektra Magneto, Paige Bleed, Lora “Outa My” Wayman*, Kitty Liquorbottom*, Bigg Rigg*, Chainsaw*, Val Holla*, Stevie Brown*, Blitz Lemon*, Betty T. KayO, The Smacktivist*, Burnadeath, Zee “Loraine Acid” Gulertekin*, Gorges Curves*, Quiet Storm, and KloverKill, with off-track support from Jesse “Ava Tarr” Fox, Bratislava Bruiser, Silver Machine, Kristy Skelton of Tri-City Roller Derby, and coaches Andrew Marron and Amy Spears.
Photos by: Joe Mac