PORTLAND, OR – This was both a tense and dense game for the #3 and #6 WFTDA-ranked teams, as they traded game leads throughout play, and their strategy was marked by relentless braced walls that jammers had to press through to take passes. Both teams fielded swift-footed jammers who applied unrelenting pressure on blockers, gathering every point inch by inch. But ultimately it was Rose’s blockers and their key offensive assists that earned Rose their final score advantage, and they took the win to play into the semi-final, 186-172.
The first jam started with Loren Mutch taking the star, and standing on the line next to Texas’ Fifi Nomenon. Solid, grinding braced four walls brought both to an effective standstill as they pressed into their opposing blockers and looked for any inkling of give. A minute in, when both teams exchanged offensive hits, it was Rose City who proved more effective and their lead grabbed them a quick game lead also, at 4-0. Texas quickly brought on 4-0 in the following jam against Scald Eagle, to even the game score to 4-4.
Bloody Mary, due to retire, was contained at the rear, while Licker *N* Split managed to battle through the front, shedding the final two blockers. But then a track cut called on Licker gifted Bloody a powerjam but after a swoop to the outside on the turn turned out poorly, she got stuck behind the pack long enough that Licker was able to catch up and sweep through for points. The two jammers, after a star pass to Smarty, gathered point for point, but ended with 18-13 as Texas snuck in just one more scoring pass.
The game continued neck and neck, with slow-moving packs, strong defensive braces, and repeated close lead switches.
The second game quarter entered with Freight Train taking on point after point while Licker languished in the box, along with both teams’ pivots, and ended 14-0 to Texas. By this point, at 55-38, Texas started to solidify their game lead, and kept this push up with a lead claim by Bloody Mary, who promptly lost it with a penalty.
Texas used strategically placed blockers for sweeps away from the edges to create opportunities for their jammers, but these were often foiled with penalties gathered by the very same jammers. By the time Smarty Pants emerged with lead and claimed a slim unreplied 3-0, her spin escapes and fast-moving feet had the crowd riled to loud exclamations, and 82-60.
Scald Eagle emerged with lead, but then a steamrolling Freight Train followed her so closely up the back, that it had to be called off for a 0-0 jam. An official review was called by Texas with only 45 seconds of play remaining in period 1, asking for a review of a cutting call on Bittercup, but may also have been an excuse for their players to gain extra rest time before entering what was to be the ultimate half jam, burning the official review that was due to expire and earning them fractionally more time on the track. But it was to backfire for them as a tactic as Licker emerged from the front of the pack to claim lead, and 11-4, to take the teams to 111-90 with Texas ahead at the half-time break.
Back into the game, play seemed to have slowed even further – it took close on the full first minute of the second jam in for Scald Eagle to emerge from the pack after pushing into an unmoving Texas blocking braced four wall, with Freight Train still trapped only to emerge far after, the jam ended up 14-3. But then Scald went on to mirror that feat and push up the next jam, 17-2, sneaking Rose City back into the lead by a mere 3 point differential, 122-119. Texas responded immediately with a team time-out to reset.
Dense play followed, with defensive walls reforming and globulating around their opposing jammers, but Rose City would incrementally pass the Texans on points, holding the game lead. At 17 minutes remaining, as Licker emerged from the box, Olivia Shootin’ John wasn’t to be dissuaded from her jamming role and kept skimming through the pack before slamming into a Rose City front three-brace of blockers. But it still added enough points in that jam to push Texas back into the lead at 138-135 by the end of the third game quarter.
But then Scald Eagle was to take lead soon after, and gather herself 15 unreplied points thanks in part to solid blocking walls and a hit and long run back from Jennings on Freight Train, to switch the lead once again to Rose City’s court, 150-143 this time. But Bloody Mary couldn’t let this stand, and pulled out an 18-4 jam, finishing with relentless pushing into braced packs, and taking the score to a slim 161-159 lead for Texas.
With yet another lead switch and under five minutes remaining in play, another dense start saw less frequent jammer Frisky Biscuits take lead for Rose City. The last ten minutes especially saw Jennings take a connecting role, with bridging and running offensive hits falling on her, as she actively facilitated jammer and blocker strategy. With just 1:30 remaining in the game, Rose City was up at 181-168, and Texas pulled out the second of their team time-outs as Bloody Mary took the track, but was only able to squeeze in 4-0.
Texas quickly burned their final time-out, arresting the game clock at 44 seconds remaining. But when Mutch emerged from her initial pass with lead jammer, her 5-0 addition gave her time to saunter through some lateral cuts as she burned the final seconds on the clock to call the jam and the game to take home the win for Rose City, 186-172.
With this win, Rose City will reconvene for their semi-final game at 8:30pm PDT tonight, and the promise of playing in the Championship game tomorrow.