DALLAS, TX – After Minnesota’s thrilling two-point finish against #5 seed Atlanta on Saturday, they slogged through a second bout later that day against #1 Victoria, losing 329-36. Meeting them in the 3rd place game, Arch Rival had a solid 339-123 victory against #6 seed Queen City, and then messed with Texas and fell 209-119.
This game was a highly anticipated matchup between two midwest teams who knew each other very well, even trading players over the years. Last year it was a semifinal Playoff game that pitted them against each other, and it was Minnesota who won, 174-155. Both teams were out key jammers this game and were forced to make adjustments, but Arch Rival’s cleaner game helped lead them to a 186-91 victory and a bronze medal.
The first two jams were quick, with jammers chasing each other down and neither side getting a full scoring pass. It was this brief moment that Minnesota held the lead 3-1 before a power jam for Arch Rival took them over the top. K. Woodward pulled a track cut on MNRG’s Switch Please, and then ARCH goated a blocker to aid Harmony in her scoring passes. A star pass finally forced the jam to be called, but Arch Rival had already added 16 more points to their total.
Reptar, a recent addition to Arch Rival’s lineup took the star next but, but the jam was called with zero points with Jacked Pipes out of the pack as well. Swanson and Bolt Action gave a four-jammer rotation for Arch Rival as Bricktator wasn’t playing due to an injury the previous day. Another full cycle of this lineup got them four more lead statuses and 14 more points, holding Minnesota scoreless and leading 31-3.
While there were key offensive moments, this game was soildly a defensive one, especially with no penalties going to blockers for the first five jams. Arch Rival didn’t pick up any at all until the 7th jam and ended the first half with only five total. With a full four on the track most of the time, it was a hard fight for Minnesota to get their jammers out of the pack. They had solid line coverage, the place where nimble MNRG jammers liked to sneak through, and where Cloak N’ Drag-her blocked and ran Second Hand Smoke back into a track cut.
Once Minnesota kept their jammer out of the box, they were able to earn lead status more often, but couldn’t pick up the big scoring passes they needed to catch up. This weekend was the first sanctioned experience for Switch Please on Minnesota after transferring from DC, and proved herself against Atlanta with deft footwork and 70% lead status. Brickyard had been out all weekend with a previous injury so Second Hand Smoke had helped fill in with Shock Therapy as fourth in their lineup.
For most of the first half, it came down to which jammer could get out of the pack first, as the opposing jammer would get out fairly soon after. Arch Rival continued to have more success with that, but Minnesota would quickly skate to the front of the pack to protect their points. As it neared the ten minute left in the half, Arch Rival led 45-14.
In another race to return to the pack for points, Pipes hit the pack and grabbed a single point before calling it off, but also earned a forearm and started the next jam in the box. Solid defense by Minnesota’s Hurtrude Stein and Polly Punchkin had been holding them off from even scoring full four-point passes, but with the jammer in the box, ARCH was able to open up scoring again. With the clock at 9:15 and ARCH leading the score 57-15, they called an official review to try and penalize some Minnesota blockers. While their bench coach Code Adam had a good track record with OR’s over the weekend, the no call stood and they lost their review.
In addition to their solid defense, Arch Rival more often started the jam with their offensive player in the mix of Minnesota blockers, while MNRG started with a four wall at the back before sending a skater up to help their jammer. Sometimes that strategy burned them, as they didn’t always cover the empty space and ARCH’s jammers snuck out for lead status.
It was Second Hand Smoke who was finally able to earn a grand slam and then spun around two more blockers to add a 7-point jam. This put the score at 66-24, but it was one step forward and two steps back when Switch Please took a forearm penalty with over five minutes left in the half. After ten points by Reptar, Jacked Pipes sailed over the apex to get four more for Minnesota.
In the second to last jam of the half, things got a little chaotic after no lead status was earned. Strong defense held Bolt Action from even passing the pivot line in the first thirty seconds, but after she recovered and exited the pack, she didn’t earn lead. In the meantime, Shock Therapy had pulled the star off in anticipation of a pass, forcing the jam to go a full two minutes instead. Bolt was able to make a couple scoring passes, although denied an apex jump by Trudy, and an eventual star pass helped MNRG pick up six points. A final four points by Harmony Killerbruise closed the half with Arch Rival ahead 90-34.
While Arch Rival picked up more penalties in the second half, including four by their jammers, they still held solid control of the game with a 66.7 lead jammer percent. They also had more grand slam opportunities while still holding Minnesota to many scoreless jams. Defense remained the name of the game with at least one jam taking nearly a minute before either jammer could get out of the pack.
In the second half, Minnesota narrowed their rotation down to three and moved Second Hand Smoke to defense. Typically seen jamming, Vicious Van GoGo -a recent transfer to Arch Rival was seen blocking instead. With 15:15 left in the game, Minnesota called a timeout with the score at 136-53.
After only scoring 19 points so far this half, Minnesota caught a break during a power jam when Reptar sat with a track cut. Taking on the ARCH blockers one on one, Minnesota opened up the pack for quick passes by Switch Please. As they hit the 10-minute mark, it was 152-72.
Things picked back up for Arch Rival, although Minnesota saw one more big jam late in the game, 15 points by Pipes. As the clock ran out, Bolt Action called off the last jam and Arch Rival won 186-91. Bolt had an excellent game with 65 points and zero penalties. Jacked Pipes took the most points for Minnesota at 34, followed by Switch Please with 24. Both teams will be headed to Philadelphia in November, but this win earned a medal for Arch Rival.