ST. PAUL, MN– The anticipation of a team taking down Gotham Girls Roller Derby has been building for 67 straight wins, 5 years, and 4 consecutive WFTDA Championships. Victoria came within 2 points in the semi-finals and after the Rose City Rollers had it in their grasp last year, they were determined to complete their victory this time around.
Unlike Gotham’s previous game against VRDL which was a slow pushing game, this game was full of speeding and destructive packs that were enhanced by the roar of the full Roy Wilkins Auditorium. In the first half the teams shared a perfect split lead jammer percentage, and after 10 lead changes, 1 tie game, and multiple double digit jams by Scald Eagle, Rose City held on in the final minutes to take down the Gotham dynasty by 11 points.
First on the jam line, Gotham fielded Bonnie Thunders and Rose City matched her with Loren Mutch. Rose seemed to split their defensive line in pairs, with two wedged in the Gotham back wall for offense, and two at the front ready to catch the jammer. It worked in Mutch’s favor as after laying a shoulder on OMG WTF and juking around her she earned the first lead status. With Thunders a half of a lap behind her, the Gotham pack sped away but a speedy Mutch chased them down for 2 points.
Scald Eagle had been the highest scorer in their two previous games this weekend, so Rose City likely fielded her opposite of Thunders to maximize Eagle’s scoring potential. Miss Tea Maven jammed second for Gotham and as she tried to tip toe along the line, she slipped into a track cut giving WOJ the first power jam and gave Eagle the opportunity to score 20 points while her blockers split up Gotham.
Bonnie Thunders returned to earn Gotham’s first lead, causing Licker*N*Split to pass the star to Jessica Chestnut, but after they fumbled it, and spent time trying to return it to Licker, Thunders began to score on the distracted pack. In the chaos of it all, Chestnut had indeed become the jammer and went to the box with an illegal procedure, leaving the star on the track. By the end of it all, Gotham not only got on the board but took the lead with the 29-point jam.
The jammer penalties continued, and after Loren Mutch scored a grand slam and took the lead back by 1 point, ShortStop ended jam 4 in the penalty box with a forearm. Scald Eagle couldn’t make it out of the pack on the power start however, and instead sat in the box while ShortStop got lead status. She was able to add 14 points for Gotham with the aid of her swarming offense, and caused the 3rd lead change in as many jams, 43-30.
With 10 minutes gone Rose City was struggling a bit with blocker penalties which allowed Gotham to earn lead status for 4 jams in a row. With just two on the track they weren’t able to provide concurrent offense, and Mutch received repeated hit out and run backs by Fast & Luce. After three jams of 9 points each, Gotham extended their lead by 40 points, 70-30. With under 17 minutes left Rose City took their first timeout.
Bonnie Thunders mostly went every other jam, totaling 18 of the 41, and was supplemented with a rotation of Maven and ShortStop and a handful by Vicious van GoGo. Rose City focused on a 3-jammer rotation, and after their break, they picked up their own streak of lead jammer calls. Holding Gotham scoreless and forcing them to pass the star, they went on a 31-point scoring run, 20 of which belonged to Scald Eagle. The run ended with a nostalgic runaway Gotham pack and a whip by Hannah Jennings that sent Mutch through the pack for all 3 points while GoGo grabbed 1.
With 10 minutes left in the half and only a 10-point lead now, Gotham took a timeout. The packs continued to be frantic with both sides offering a blocker up for offense, and when both jammers managed to exit the pack at the same time, it would become a foot race for single points.
Bonnie Thunders came up too fast in one jam, committing a back block and giving Licker*N*Split a power jam with no lead as Licker realized while trying to call off the jam. She was forced to continue and as she tired and turned to play defense instead, she ended up in the box with a direction of play penalty. That provided a power start for Maven to follow, but offense upon Licker’s return kept Gotham to just 4 more points.
Starting at the pivot line, Jamie True fell back to cancel out OMG WTF’s offense, and the space allowed Scald Eagle to go wide and then spring through the apex for lead. After splitting OMG and Fisher Twice and knocking Bonnie Thunders out for a grand slam, Scald returned for 3 more points, making it 92-81, still in Gotham’s favor.
Rose City’s split pack start didn’t work well for them in the next jam as Mutch got stuck behind a solid Gotham wall. With her momentum completely stopped and getting knocked out, she recycled further back to pick up speed and try to jump the apex. A pack of Sexy Slaydie, Violet Knockout and Roxy Dallas denied her though, and while trying to recycle back she picked up a track cut. A combined ShortStop and Bonnie Thunders power jam yielded 22 points, and at the half Gotham led 114-81.
The break did Rose City well, and returning to the second half the Wheels of Justice blockers locked onto Bonnie Thunders while Gotham lost two blockers to the box. Scald Eagle began lapping the pack and after 25 points Thunders finally escaped after stashing the star. The WOJ bench signaled Scald to call it off at the very last second, but Thunders was able to get around the Rose City wall for 4 points, but 29 points by Scald closed the gap to 118-110.
After a long initial pass, Mutch was able to earn lead and brought it to a 4-point game. Licker*N*Split lost her star while trying to push through the pack next, but after returning it to her helmet, and some help from Serelson she escaped for lead status. In the meantime, Jamie True, Elicia Nisbet-Smith and Griffin were working on Thunders, and Licker picked up 4 points, bringing the game to a 118 tie. Two quick points by Scald followed, giving Rose City the lead with 24 minutes left in the game.
For the next 10 minutes the lead continued to change hands. In one jam Scald Eagle got out of the pack, but not with lead and when Maven passed the star to Fisher Twice the jam went the full two minutes. Both started scoring but the jam ended with Eagle in the penalty box on a back block.
Rose City was able to hold Bonnie Thunders from getting lead 50% of the time, and when her bendy jamming style wasn’t getting her out first, it was keeping her from being ran back as she rarely was taken all the way to the line. Mutch’s jamming game was all speed, but she was also able to stick her footing on tricky jumps and her size helped her duck under a block by Slaydie. With 12 minutes left there had been 6 lead changes in the game, and at this point Gotham led by 2 points, 149-147.
Rose City’s blockers started to fall victim to penalties again and this let Gotham start to pull away with 5 straight lead calls and 24 points. With 6:55 on the clock, Rose City took their second timeout and had already used their official review after the first jam of the second half.
Resuming play, Rose City calmed down their game and the strategic Wheels of Justice that we saw against London returned. Licker picked up a grand slam but was forced to call after Violet Knockout returned and sprung Thunders from the pack. Scald Eagle got the lead next, but with Maven on the track and a few blockers in the box she let the jam run long with the clock ticking under 4 minutes. It ended in a 13-8 gain for Rose City, putting the score at 179-166 with Gotham still up.
Loren Mutch and Bonnie Thunders took the line next and with Gotham losing 2 blockers to the box, Mutch was able to pick up lead, but OMG and and Roxy Dallas got Thunders out to put pressure on Mutch. With two blockers for each team on the track and plenty of space, Mutch jumped the apex and called it for 4 points. With under 2:21 on the clock and up by 9 points, Gotham let the lineup clock nearly run out before they called their 2nd timeout.
Bonnie Thunders returned to the line and this time it was against Scald Eagle. With lead, Eagle again let the jam keep going, risking Thunders scoring on another 2:2 blocking pack, but Rose City was able to get Thunders slowed down by knocking her out of bounds. In the meantime Scald continued scoring and tied up the game, forcing Thunders to pass the star to Fisher Twice. Prior to this, Fisher had already started the jam in the box and returned to it for an illegal procedure, and then saw it one more time with a forearm, and this time while wearing the star. With time ticking down, Rose City was now in the lead and Scald Eagle let the jam time run out, concluding with a 28-8 jam and the Wheels of Justice leading 198-187.
Gotham took their last timeout and put Bonnie Thunders on the track as pivot and then Rose City took their final timeout as well, putting Loren Mutch on the jam line. In a chaotic power start, Mutch managed to get out of the pack but not with lead status but Thunders sat with a multi-player block. Fisher Twice returned to the track and picked up lead but Mutch was already scoring.
With the full 2-minute jam, Serelson worked to get Mutch through the pack and Chestnut hit Fisher out of bounds. Things continued in a frenzy and upon Thunders returning to the track, she received the star and was sure to put it on and pick up points. The period clock was winding down however, and as both teams had already picked up 8 points, Loren Mutch calmly let the time run out with Rose City ahead, 206-195.
The Rose City Rollers became the first team to beat Gotham in 5 years, and take the Hydra in a thrilling final matchup that became the first Championship also aired on ESPN3. After scoring 133 points, Scald Eagle also took home tournament MVP, her second this season.