JACKSONVILLE, FL – The WFTDA-ranked #9 Jacksonville Rollergirls have been building momentum the past few years, and it all culminated in their upset against WFTDA #5 Denver Roller Derby in front of Jacksonville’s home crowd on Day 2 of playoffs.
After a rocky start, Jacksonville swung into the lead, and held it for the rest of the game, even while Denver kept finding a bit of momentum to try and steal it back. New Jax City outlasted them however, despite having more jammer penalties, and earned their first trip to WFTDA Championships with their win over the Mile High Club, 193-163, while Denver will have to play on to earn theirs.
Defense locked in for both teams from the very start, but Jacksonville started to struggle with penalties as Erin Jackson sat in the box with a cut, followed rapidly by two of her blockers. Wilhelm picked up 5 points, but then called the jam off to keep Jackson from scoring.
Denver picked up another 4 points in the next jam. But then Jacksonville got their first lead jammer status in jam 3 by Jamsterella, making the score 9-4, Denver still in the lead.
Jackson returned to the jam line and went up against Blackman, a newer jammer for Denver, and even though the rookie transfer got lead and picked up 4 points, a quick Jackson returned and picked up a full scoring pass as well.
New Jax City was able to pick up the next three lead calls, and the score went from a one-point game, to Jacksonville taking the lead by 6 points. Denver was shut out of point-scoring for those three jams, and Sharpless was forced to stash the star to prevent Jackson from getting any further points.
With about 20 minutes left in the half, Blackman earned another 4 points for Denver, bringing it to a 2-point game, but then a string of Jammer penalties helped Jacksonville add cushion to their lead.
First Wilhelm hit the box for Denver with a cut, but was kept there for two jams while Patti Smithereens picked up 3 points, followed by 5 by Jamsterella. Then it was Jackson’s turn to take a seat after a low block, but her blockers Stephanie Gentz and Legs R Us helped her out by forcing Dezellem on a track cut. By the end of the two minutes, Jackson sped her way 13 points, while Dezellem ended with 4.
The power jam surge continued for New Jax City as Sharpless also ended up in the penalty box with a low block, allowing Krispy Kreme-Her to put up 14 more points, putting the score at 54-21 in the home team’s favor. One more lead call had Jacksonville add 4, but then Denver regained control of their game.
At this point, Denver had kept a pretty strict rotation of Wilhelm, Dezellem, Sharpless, and Blackman, while Jacksonville had a jammer rotation of 3, but then added in a 4th.
Jammer penalties seemed to affect all of Denver’s jammers, while Jackson picked up her 3rd jammer penalty of the half with about ten minutes left in the half. This was after she had already struggled in the pack while Dezellem went on a 16-point run, so Blackman followed up with 13 points to put Denver within 10 points, 60-50.
The scoring momentum swung right back in Jacksonville’s favor after a time out however, as they again picked up 3 leads in a row and first Krispy Kreme-Her put up 4 points, but Jamsterella followed up with an impressive 19-point jam.
The two teams split lead calls for the remainder of the half, but New Jax City was able to take better advantage of their jams, while Denver was forced to call theirs off before picking up the full 4 points.
At the break, Jacksonville sat at an even 100 points to Denver’s 55, rivaling Denver’s demoralizing defense with some tough blocking of their own.
Lead jammer calls had remained fairly even in the first half, although neither team could keep a lead streak going for more than 3 in a row. Jacksonville got another swing of leads to start the second half, which helped them inch up to a 112-55 lead.
Wilhelm took the game back for Denver, sending them on a 4-jam run and prompting the first appearance of Dew on the jammer line for the Mile High Club. After picking up lead, Dew was able to lap Pattie Smithereens but ended up in the box on a back block, allowing Patti to add 19 points to Denver’s 11 points that jam. Blockers had begun suffering the penalty plague as well, and after 4 points by Dezellum, Krispy Kreme-Her ended the jam in the box.
Jackson picked up her 4th jammer penalty, but met Dezellem at the box as well, making that a full 2-minute jam that ended slightly in Denver’s favor. Jacksonville began to struggle with jammer penalties in the last quarter of play, giving Denver some big jams, but since the home team stretched their lead as far as 54 at one point, Denver had a hard time consistently putting up enough points to catch them.
Jacksonville proved they could keep up with their defense, and their fancy-footed jammers were able to put up big points when necessary. Although Denver was able to outscore them by 15 points in the second half, Jacksonville hung on and took the win by 30 points, forcing Denver to fight for their trip to Champs in the 3rd place game. Jacksonville’s ticket is already punched now matter how they finish, but the team will have to face London in the final game to see whether they will leave their own playoff tournament in 1st or 2nd place.
Check out more recaps, scores, and more at Jacksonville Central.