Saturday, September 17, 2005
Roller Derby Semis
Best. Bout. Ever.
Tonight, the Roller Girls faced off in their first playoff games. As I predicted, the DLF v. Sockit Wenches matchup was intense, and the Throttle Rockets v. Grave Danger was a bit of a snoozer. The new venue (Hangar 27 @ Sandpoint) was outstanding. It is a HUGE hangar, at least twice the size of the last one, and the larger space and more distant walls definitely improve the audio. The best new feautre is the beer garden seating!
The first bout was low scoring, violent and tense. The DLF came out short-handed, with a number of injuries and a conspicuously absent Kim Reaper (where are you Kim?). Lorna Boom was apparently recovering from a serious car accident, and was supposed to see limited duty, but she was out there in most jams, filling in for the fallen. From the beginning, the Sockit Wenches had more energy, more drive, and better strategy. Surprisingly enough, it was not Miss Fortune, the Sockit Wenches' heart and soul, but Pia Mess who gave the DLF fits. With most of their good jammers injured or absent, the DLF turned to Burnett Down (pictured above--courtesy of joygantic) to jam for them every other jam. She did a remarkable job after a shaky start, but at the half, it was within 2 points. Everyone wondered if DLF had enough in the tank to win. To make matters worse, DLF had more players go down in the second half--Momma Cherry left with an injury along with Punchin' Judy. Both would return, but DLF played all night long as the skating wounded.
It was tied @ 36 all with 3:00 to go, when the DLF pulled off a number of smart moves. They may have been tired, but they executed some strategic coups and strong individual efforts. First, underrated jammer Hideous Braxley skated through the pack, became lead jammer, and scored 4 quick points. She wisely called off the jam before the Sockit Wenches could score any points. Then, Burnett Down faced off against Sockit Wenches ace jammer Miss Fortune, and absolutely leveled her at the start of the jam. I haven't seen a hit like that since Lawerence Talyor knocked out Joe Montana. With the lead secured, DLF went on defense, inserting Diva State and Kitty Kamikase at blocker. Getting past these two tall, powerful ladies is nearly impossible, and with Pia Mess and Miss Fortune on the bench exhausted, it fell to poor Juliet Bravo to try and salvage the game. She could not get past the wall. Hideous Braxely scored a few extra points, while Juliet went down hard, injuring her elbow, and trying valiantly to skate the last few seconds in a losing cause. I have to wonder why Pia Mess was not out there for the last jam. With 1:15 left in your season, why not have your best jammer out there?
In the end, Burnett Down, who had jammed for the DLF nearly half of the jams, still seemed like a bundle of energy--Juliet Bravo, on the other hand, sat on the ground, holding her elbow, comforted by her teammates. The Sockit Wenches almost pulled off the massive upset, but they fell just short 45-36 (it was closer than it sounds). The MVP of the world has to go to Burnett Down. She carried her team, and seemed to get stonger as the match went on. When she JACKED Miss Fortune (and you really had to see it to believe it) , she not only stopped the Sockit Wenches' momentum, she took the heart out of them. This is the second or third time this season that the DLF needed Burnett Down to come up with a great jam to put them comfortably ahead. She can singlehandedly change the game like no one else. She's not the biggest, or the fastest rollergirl out there (although she'd be in the top 5 in both categories), but she's a big game player with an attitude a mile wide. Go DLF!
DLF will face the Throttle Rockets in the finals. TR got there with their usual combination of strength and speed. Darth Skater and Valtron 3000 were their usual dominant selves, but, surprisingly, most of the points were scored by Astroglide. Femme Fatale did play for Grave Danger, but she is shaping up as the Barry Sanders of the Roller Derby world, a great player who's incredibly fun to watch on a mediocre team. Also, inexplicably, they used her at pivot for most of the game, not jammer. She is a good pivot, but she's too small to have much effect on the taller, stronger girls who try to pass her. She laid a great hit on Darth Skater at one point, and pretty much bounced off. It would have been closer if they had used her as jammer as often as the DLF did with Burnett Down, but I think the outcome would have been the same.
The finals will be epic. The DLF beat the Throttle Rockets pretty soundly in their last meeting, but you can throw that result out the window. If the DLF doesn't have Kim Reaper back , they may not have the offense to win. The Throttle Rockets have a strong cast of interchangable jammers who can all score, and they're bigger and stronger than the Sockit Wenches, so they should match up better with the DLF. The matchup that I most want to see, of course, is Darth Skater v. Burnett Down. They're both outstanding, but Darth's fast, tough, and low to the ground, while Burnett's tall, unhittable, and cagey. The Throttle Rockets apparently wanted to see this too, when the Sockit Wenches tied the DLF late, the Throttle Rockets stood up and chanted "D-L-F." I guess your season isn't complete until you've beaten the best. Now they'll get a chance.
The finals will be CRAZY! Mark your calendars now. October 15th.