JACKSONVILLE, FL—#5 seed Tampa and #4 seed Atlanta met previously in May, while Angel City was in town to visit, and Tampa took the win by just 18 points. Coming into this tournament ranked 5 places higher, Atlanta controlled the game from start to finish, with the Tantrums trying to make a comeback in the second half to no avail. Defense locked in on both sides, not letting Tampa earn the points they needed, and Atlanta endured the final minutes to take the win 177-125 and move onto the semi-final round.
Taking the line first for Tampa, or at least 20 feet behind it, was Smooth Operator for Tampa against Trouble MakeHer for Atlanta’s Dirty South Derby Girls. Strong bracing defense showed up early for both teams, and after 30 seconds Smooth Operator was able to earn lead jammer status, and returned to patiently juke her way to 4 points, but also a track cut. At almost the same time, Trouble MakeHer passed the star to former Gold Coast skater Baller Shot Caller who finished the jam with 15 points to Tampa’s 4.
Slams McKenzie pushed out for Atlanta’s first actual lead, and was kept to just 4 points with Little A out a lap behind her. Afro Dykee put up 4 more, before Taz Maniac was able to add 2 more for Tampa. Atlanta came on strong in this half, picking up the next 5 lead jams, ticking up a 30 point lead 15 minutes in.
Leads came few and far between for Tampa, but Laryn Kill was able to earn 11 points while Slams took lead to the box, outscoring her by 3 points. The pack was either strong and slow, or chaotic while Tampa’s blockers suffered the most with penalties this half of the game. Since Atlanta was staying on the track, they were able to counter their 5 jammer penalties with braced, recycling defense. Tampa also tried to let their jammers do most of the work, tending to focus on defense first, only offering help as they transitioned through the pack.
Natty Long Legs’s sticky positional blocking combined with Queen Loseyateefa gave the likes of Taz and Little A a hard time, but Tampa had some effective blocking of their own. Dowgiallo, who was formerly a debilitating defender from Denver, and Lily the Kid were all over the track snagging jammers when they could.
Late in the half, Tampa’s jammers found more success and Laryn Kill put up 9 points and with 4 by Little A and 10 by PhDiesel.
Atlanta held the lead 108-76 at the break.
Atlanta boasts two 2014 Team USA skaters, and as one of them, Baller Shot Caller saw more jams in the second half with the star, becoming the top scorer with 55 points. Smooth Operator had a slow first half, but in the first jam back she was able to put up 15 points while Trouble MakeHer ended up in the box after a slow struggle in the pack. Little A helped shorten Atlanta’s lead further by adding 9 points, bringing it to 111-85, Atlanta still leading minutes into the second half.
This half saw fewer penalties, which meant that defense really latched onto jammers, making the fight long and slow. Both teams saw 3 jammer penalties in this half of play, but Tampa was able to kill off some of those power jams points to stop some of the bleeding, but they weren’t able to put up as many big jams as they needed to take control of the game.
The last big jams did bring it to a 19-point game however, but after Laryn scored 10 points and Taz added 13. Atlanta dug in and didn’t let Tampa score more than 4 in any of the remaining jams. In fact, with 5 minutes left in the game, neither jammer completed their initial pass while bracing tripods and walls barely let the pack advance around the track. While this is always a jammer’s nightmare, it didn’t bother Atlanta as they were looking to burn the clock while they were in the lead.
Tampa couldn’t find the momentum they needed, and Atlanta avenged their previous loss with a 52-point win moving them on to a semi-final game on Saturday at 2pm EDT, while Tampa falls into the consolation bracket against Glasgow at noon.
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