COLUMBIA, SC – On Friday, #1 seed Rose City took a solid 372-point win over #8 Columbia, but today a much more chaotic game against #4 Atlanta kept the Wheels of Justice constantly on their toes. Atlanta held a better lead jammer percentage by the end of the game, and had fewer jammer penalties which gave them more opportunities to score against the reigning WFTDA Champs.
Ranked #16 in WFTDA, Atlanta’s braced tripod were able to slow down #4 ranked Rose City jammers, and were still effective when down to two blockers on the track. Rose City was still able to put up large scoring jams, however, while Atlanta struggled to match them and could only get up to two scoring passes. By the end of the game – which included a 23 minute break due to water leakage at the venue – Rose City took away a 206-133 win, confirming their place in the Championship game tomorrow.
In their first game this weekend, Rose City focused on a main jammer rotation of Loren Mutch, Scald Eagle, and Licker*N*Split, while rotating Frisky Biscuits and Starta Ruckus in the fourth spot. Today, the team rested Starta Ruckus, and, as Licker fell into penalty trouble, they had to rely more on Scald and Mutch but luckily had the depth of jammer bench to fill in with Frisky.
Atlanta also had some roster changes between games, and even though Trouble MakeHer was the second highest scorer in their game yesterday with 43 points, they chose to sit both her and Choke Cherry today, fielding Jean-Juke Picard and The Merchant of Menace (returned from retirement).
In the first jam, Brawn Swanson was committed to offense for Rose City from the start, and aided Loren Mutch to the first lead status. As she worked on a 19-point jam, Afro Dykee struggled against the remaining three blockers, and after a muddled star pass she was able to sneak in four points but the Wheels of Justice were still able to start the game off strong, taking the score to 19-4.
With Madditude Adjustment picking up her first penalty of her eventual seven, Rose City had a 4:2 pack advantage but Atlanta’s Queen Loseyateefa and Blaque Jac held Scald Eagle on their own for 15 seconds and then followed up to keep her at just four points. In the third jam, Licker*N*Split took her first penalty, and Jean-Juke Picard got Atlanta’s first lead status and added 2 more points.
The Merchant of Menace continued their momentum with another lead and a grand slam, but had to spend some extra energy to get out of the pack again after Licker stopped to play some defense and run her back to the pack. Four more points gave her nine, and Slams McKenzie followed up two jams later with eight more points after trading spots in the penalty box with Scald Eagle, which brought the score to 36-23, Rose City still leading, if only slightly.
In those first six jams each team accrued ten penalties which made it an already messy and chaotic game by that portion into it. Rose City showed during the regular season that their jammers have been struggling with penalties a bit, averaging about 8 per game while their blockers averaged 27 penalties. Atlanta was sure to take advantage of Rose City’s errors wherever they could, and with two consecutive power jams the team added 11 more points, and trailed Rose City 50-34. This was not the game many people had tuned in expecting, but it seemed that Atlanta’s tightening grip on defense and confidence to play offense helped them stay firmly in the game against the #1 tournament seed.
With an even 50/50 lead jammer status percentage, the two teams continued to trade scoring swings, and with Atlanta only located about a 3 hour drive away, their crowd of supporters was very vocal when the Dirty South Derby Girls made progress on the track. With ten minutes left in the first half though, Mutch erased some of their hard work with a big 18-point jam to push Rose City’s lead much further to 75-46.
Atlanta chipped away at the lead a bit in the following jams, but then a multi-player block call on Atlanta’s jammer Slams McKenzie gave Rose City a power jam. CurbStompin’ Cupcake helped lead effective recycling around Rose City’s offense, and worked at holding Licker. But Licker was nonetheless able to score two grand slams before Jean Slams tried to sneak back from the box, though Rose’s Tarantula caught her on the return.
Rose City had habitually held the back defensive line from the jam start, and would push back into the jammer after the whistle. Doing this again in the last jam of the half, they were able to hold Jean-Juke Picard at a slow roll, keeping her near the pivot line while Frisky Biscuits worked on multiple grand slams. Meanwhile, Atlanta pivot Madditude Adjustment earned her fifth penalty, but she returned from the box to receive a star pass from a trapped Picard. By halftime Rose City had extended their lead a bit further to 111-63.
After the first 30 minutes, Atlanta was doing a good job keeping Scald from big scoring jams by getting their own jammer out quickly when she had lead. Licker’s penalty problems was keeping her score down to 24 points, and Mutch held the most points at 46. Scald Eagle would have a better second half, but would only take top scorer by a slim two more points than Mutch by the end of the game, when last year she would normally have outscored the next highest scorer by double the points.
Having not played for Atlanta all season, The Merchant of Menace came back in the second half and added five more points to her first half total of 36 points. This was only after she had to fight a strong partnership of Brawn Swanson and Elicia Nisbet-Smith, however, who had held her from lead status for about a minute. The Rose City pack recycled through the offensive efforts of erykah ba-doozie, while Mutch sat for a cut penalty, and by the jam’s end Atlanta had inched closer with 68 points to Rose’s 111.
A 0-0 jam came after that, but the third jam of the second half was ended seconds after it started when a busted pipe leaked into the ref lane on turn two, and the game ended up stopping for 23 minutes while they dealt with the soggy results.
Coming back from the extra break, Licker picked up her fourth and fifth penalties, and Rose City sat her for the rest of the game. Only playing 12 skaters to begin with, the Wheels of Justice utilized Frisky as a consistent third jammer, but she required just a little extra offense from her pack to make it through than the other jammers seemed to need.
Atlanta picked up some momentum again as Rose City had to alter their plans, and they scored 19 points to Rose City’s 7. Afro Dykee took a jammer penalty for Atlanta next, but her blockers held tight to Frisky Biscuits who was forced to pass the star. Tarantula took on her new job effectively, and picked up 19 points while Afro Dykee returned and added eight. As they neared the 15 minute mark, The Merchant of Menace added two grand slams and Atlanta crept back up on Rose City’s lead, taking the score to 137-105.
Atlanta and Rose City continued to swap lead status and points, but Atlanta wasn’t able to pick up high enough scoring jams to really close the gap. They had sat Baller Shot Caller this game, who was resting her ankle, but Blaque Jac, Rebel Yellow and Nattie Long Legs were sure to cover any defensive gaps Baller had left.
On Rose City’s side Quigley worked the offense while Chestnut headed up the team’s defensive front, and they helped Scald Eagle score 29 points in the penultimate jam. By the time this long game finally concluded, Rose City had won 206-133.
Both teams proved themselves in the pack with strong defensive and effective offense, but with both being affected by penalty problems as well, it indicates that the last two games tomorrow could have some interesting outcomes. Tomorrow Rose City will play the winner of tonight’s Jacksonville vs Denver game, while Atlanta will take on the loser for 3rd place.