PHILADELPHIA, PA – The second game of the 2017 International WFTDA Championships promised to be, if nothing else, nothing less than brutal with their slow and grinding play. Both Angel City (#4) and Minnesota (#16) are known for the punishment they subject their opponents to.
In the end, Angel City left with the win, 281-144, after carefully controlling most of the game and using the stickiness of their blocking to full advantage.
Coming into this game with missing teammates – Shiver Me Kimbers and Second Hand Smoke – was not a good start for Minnesota, especially with the addition of Fritz (formerly known as Hockey Honey) to the Angel City roster. Laci Knight and Lo Betancourt were notably absent from the track for Angel City (despite being present during warm-ups), which seemed to slightly even the playing field in this game. But the toll was heavy for Minnesota, and they slogged through play prioritizing damage minimization.
After an even up first 20-20, two-minute jam, a cut track in the following jam from Darby Dagger gave Jacked Pipes a chance to put some distance between Minnesota and Angel. But L.A. had other plans, and only allowed the opposing jammer a four-point gain. Switch Please – who had an amazing showing at Playoffs – came out for her first jam to grab jam lead and another four-point gain for their team. Switch Please was a consistent jammer for Minnesota, outdoing even Brickyard’s impressive jammer statistics, at 53 and 48 points gained apiece.
Offense was key from both teams, with Hurtrude Stein being doing a lot of heavy lifting as a Minnesota pivot opposite of powerhouse Tui Lyon for Angel City. Lyon’s timing on offense, coupled with defensive team awareness made her a constant pain for Minnesota.
A 24 point jam by Catch Mikachu pulled Angel City out and definitively into the lead, while in all her jams ACD’s Satan’s Little Helper spent most of her time on the track bouncing her way along the lines to pull away little by little.
Minnesota did an excellent job of keeping the point spread low per jam, overall. Star stashes and passes baited Angel into early call offs, such that rarely did L.A. take a chance on long jams when Minnesota was in a scoring position (unless Mikachu wore the star).
But penalties were definitely not helping Minnesota’s cause. The team earned 19 in the first half against Angel’s nine; with Diamond Rough earning six all on her own. At one point, Polly Punchkin was left on the floor on her own and delighted the crowd with a couple of key solo jammer takedowns, making the most of her mobility solo.
At the half, Angel City had sheer momentum on their side, leading 148 to 82.
Halftime’s recharge gave Minnesota some life, and extra focus. They busted out of the gates with 17 points going up quick in the first jam back, partially due to a jammer charging penalty on Angel City. Satan’s Little Helper responded in kind, arm jukes and all, putting 15 points up against Minnesota’s 17, leaving the aqua army up only 2 from that jam.
Angel City’s sticky blocking was a sight to behold in the second half. Juana Teaze and Rachel Rotten especially were able to plug up any and all gaps Tui Lyon and Fritz left when they would chase down opposing jammers; the four flowing around each other continuously, rarely letting the jammer move. In the other line, Soledad worked with Cheker and Death Down Under, relentlessly grinding the jammer to a halt and smashing them to the exterior of the track.
Angel’s key strength, however, was being able to take full advantage of Minnesota’s weakness. When a triangle would over-rotate, offense would somehow always be there to pop in. When Minnesota’s defense was rolling too much, Angel hit the brakes. And while Minnesota certainly never quit doling out their own power, with Madrad introducing herself to her fair share of jammers, and Brickyard pulling points, it was never quite enough to make up for those gaps.
Jacked Pipes spun her way into Minnesota’s top jamming spot by the end, gaining a 64% lead jam percentage and putting up 53 points. While Angel City’s top scorer was Satan’s Little Helper, putting up 100 points over 10 jams with a 70% jam lead.
Angel City takes their first win of the weekend, 281-144. They will be back on track Friday at 6pm EDT to face Victorian Roller Derby (#1). With the new structure, Minnesota is not done, and we will see them lace up on Sunday at 12pm EST, against the loser of Game 7.