D1 Champs 3rd Place: Victoria Unsettles London, 122-99.

D1 Champs 3rd Place: Victoria Unsettles London, 122-99. Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography. facebook.com/donnaOphoto/

ST. PAUL, MN – In a game that was tense and close for the first half of play, and then started to feel inevitably in Victoria’s hands by the final quarter, blocker penalties and sheer braced intensity ultimately decided the fate of the game. Victoria showed the world that the tables had shifted since the last time the two teams met in Champs play last year, when London took home the win. In the end, Victoria claimed the win in this game, with a score of 122-99, leaving the tournament with 3rd place and becoming the first non-U.S. team to medal at WFTDA Championships.

On the first whistle Christy Demons battled up the front and then emerged as lead, while Lexi Lightspeed fought into the back of the pack and raced out rapidly behind Christy. Victoria claimed the first points and the lead, 3-0. In the second jam however, Mary Fagdalene took a penalty, leaving the double threat force of Stefanie Mainey to claim points, but not jammer lead, on a powerjam. The full two minute jam resulted in a 13-1 addition for London, and gave them the lead.

When in the next jam, Trisha Smackanawa landed her own penalty, Giles started to inch in points, with some key offensive assists by Smashin’ Pop as Smackanawa returned to play. The 9-4 jam in VRDL’s favor started to level up the teams’ score, 17-13 with London still leading.

London started focusing on busting up Victoria’s defensive triangles and diamonds, while creating their own around them. Victoria continued their trend of holding their swirling defensive lines right up to the front of the pack, and dropping bridged blocker after bridged blocker to catch and hold the opposing jammer right into the final foot of the pack definition.

A team time-out at 37-22, with London in the lead, meant Victoria seemed to be more about giving the team pause to rest and reset than anything else. And when the defensive response from Victoria held the London jammer for a full two minutes, Rogue Runner was only able to squeeze in a 5-point pass.

A massive recycle all the way back through a fast-reversing pack on Lexi Lightspeed kept her scoreless in the face of massive additions from Christy, which yielded 17-0 for Victoria. The game score narrowed significantly to just three points, at 42-39, with just over 11 minutes remaining in the game half. When Victoria next inched up the score with just 4 unreplied points, it took them over London’s score into a game lead with a margin of just one single point, at 43-42.

By the time a visibly tiring Mary Fagdalene took a further 15-0 points for Victoria, the lead had widened a bit more to 60-42, with Victoria holding the lead. London had now been held unscoring for some time, despite fielding the usually successful Mainey in this time.

With just 3:30 remaining in the period, the Victorian star popped off Giles’ helmet during a particularly shoulder-heavy push through London’s defense, and she struggled to return it to her head while London stood guard over it. Unable to earn those extra points in that time, even with her lead, Victoria was held back from adding much to their standing game lead.

With mere seconds remaining in the period, Mary Fagdalene once again claimed lead jammer status, while Stefanie Mainey got stuck in the pack on a long and exhausting initial pass. With the resulting 4-0 addition, Victoria entered the half in the lead with 66-47.

The first jam back into the game started with the classic braced front and rear walls, with Christy Demons crucially recycled back by the whole London defense, so that Lexi Lightspeed could take lead and 4-0. When in the next jam Mary Fagdalene took lead with a final spin around London blocker DieDie, London was left to pass the star gaining them zero points.

After talking almost a full minute to break through the pack, Lexi wound up in the box, and Swish Cariboom busted out to a full two minute jam, and 6-4 additions in Victoria’s favor.

Mary Fagdalene’s frequent star stashes, and quietly effective jamming style paid off in this game, while London was regularly almost completely stymied by Victoria’s sheer defensive power. London took regular trips to the box, losing many of their blockers in the second half.

This combination allowed Victoria to continue to pull away as the third game quarter ended, taking the point spread to 99-69, before Victoria used an official review on a claimed out of bounds block between jammers. The officials team hadn’t any corresponding evidence, so the claim was lost, as well as their review for that period.

With just 13 minutes remaining, the 11th jam of the second half displayed epic engaged defensive walls, as it took all but the final 7 seconds of a full two minute jam for Mary Fagdalene to break out of the pack for lead jammer status. She made it back through a scoring pass only beats after the 2 minute mark ran out the jam – the score didn’t budge.

When in the following jam the London pivot lost their helmet cover, London was denied any chance of a star pass out of Victoria’s defensive lines, but managed to play for points regardless – taking 9-4 out of the jam.

Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography.

Photo by Donna Olmstead Photography.

The final 5 minutes of play saw point inching on both sides, even with occasional jammer penalties giving some opportunity for additions, that was solidly shut down. Play stayed defensive and controlled but quickened, while jammers responded to feeling out of time with explosive movements and juking play.

London took their first team time-out at 2:05 remaining in the game, with the score hovering at 118-94.

When Christy Demons pushed into the scrum pack neck and neck with Stefanie Mainey for the penultimate jam, Victoria spared blocker Bone Shaker for offensive assists, clearing out London blockers, but ultimately returning to hold Mainey just prior to Christy breaking out of the pack for lead.

With only three seconds remaining on the game clock, the jam was called, and a time-out called instantly for London, freezing the clock at 122-97, followed immediately by Victoria taking a final time-out and creating space for both to rest and one final jam. When Rogue Runner took lead jammer, but was bounced to the outside and recycled back and back by the Victorian jammer, Mary Fagdalene, Victoria visibly knew they had time to burn.

As the jam clock ticked off the final seconds of play, even offensive assists by Kid Block wasn’t going to get Rogue Runner through enough to equalize play. And so, with only 2 unreplied points added, London had to admit defeat, while Victoria took the 3rd place position out of the tournament with a final score of 122-99.

Find recaps and scores from the whole weekend at our Champs Central.

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