by Genevieve Berrick
On March 3rd, the Scarlets took on the Charm City Roller Girls from Baltimore, Maryland. This was the first time that the Scarlets had ever taken on the Charm City All Stars, and the teams reside in opposite competitive regions: a battle of East vs. West.
From the moment Charm City Roller Girls turned their steely focus onto the Scarletâs warm-up scrimmage, it was obvious that this would be a fascinating, and strongly contested game. With the just-released March WFTDA rankings placing formerly eighth-ranked Western Region ACDG much closer than expected to the #3 East team, CCRG, both teams had something to prove. Also, the new WFTDA âtop 40â Division One structure replacing the previous âtop 10 of the regionâ four regional playoff structure, put these two teams in clear and direct competitive line for the 2013 Championships. This was quite the bout to watch!
Both teams had a clearly differing line-up of players from the one they had ended the 2012 season, among note: Charm playing newly-transplanted Australian import, Susy Pow in her first WFTDA-sanctioned bout, and dual jamming-defensive force, Laci Knight for ACDG. It soon became obvious that the Scarlets, (despite missing the now Texas-affiliated 2012 Westerns MVP, Fifi Nomenon, and injured jamming superstar Ghetto Fabulez) had a deeper jammer rotation than CCRG, ensuring that ACDGâs jammers could both display their blocking/pivoting talents and maintain their relentless pace throughout the bout.
The first half started with Cris Affliction and I.M.Pain neck and neck, but it took Chicaâs jamming to put the first points on the board, into an ACDG lead. At this point, CCRGâs Holly GoHardly claimed herself the dubious honor of first into the penalty box for the bout. The lead started to widen thanks to Mickispeediaâs jamming talents, and then was surpassed by the stellar efforts of Charm Cityâs Nuckinâ and I.M. Painâs jamming exploits in particular, but was then reclaimed by ACDG. The lead changes early in this first half were to set the pace for the rest of the bout, with each team vying neck-and-neck for points with every closely-matched jam. Throughout, the effects of the ability of ACDGâs Jane Wilkins and Duchess Von Damn to quietly and persistently put themselves and other players in the right defensive position at exactly the wrong time for Charm, should never be understated.
This half was then punctuated by an unfortunate head injury for CCRGâs OâChit, who fortunately, after being checked for head and neck injury, got up and skated away with a cold pack held to her chin. Phew!
The rest of the half ended after the power defensive duo that is Laci and Krissy Krash, with the help of Soledad and Checker repeatedly held back CCRG long enough to pull ACDG into a 119:92 lead by half-time. Unfortunately the penalty board also weighed heavily in ACDGâs âfavorâ, with the Scarlets maintaining almost double the penalty minutes of CCRG by the half-time whistle. Whether this might be related to the new penalty rules in play for this new season, one can only speculate.
After that engaging a first half, it seemed unlikely that the second would surpass it for tense and engaging play, but it really did. While ACDG has in recent years proven to have a bounty of really engaging superstar players, in this game they proved that really exceptional teamwork coupled with a commitment to developing the full range of playing abilities in each player pulls the whole team up to that same level of play, and they then maintained that quality of engagement for the rest of the game.
Jammers repeatedly were bounced in and out of the penalty box to abruptly switch team powerjams, creating a wonderful visual paradox of fast-paced offense-defense-switching and racing jammers, coupled with incredibly slowed packs, as teams tried to make the most of each powerjam.
CCRGâs Allie B. Back then performed the most delightfully tactical and visual jammer manouver as she ducked out of a hit and swooped in and out of bounds and back in on a single foot crouch, avoiding a hit and then a cut-track penalty from three feet high, on only one skate.
Possibly the single most heart-stopping moments occurred when for three breathless jams the teams were tied at 151, and then 154, before CCRG snuck into the lead. This wasnât to last, despite CCRG trying to repeatedly earn lead jammer status and use it to call jams off before any further ACDG points got onto the board. Chica pulled out all the stops, and switched the lead yet again, to 174:159 in ACDGâs favor. Chica Go Lightening was also consistently notable, along with Laci and Shanks, for the visibly strong blocking and defensive play they initiated, along with their stellar jamming roles.
The Scarlets lead then strengthened and weakened, always remaining within a gap that the tense observer couldnât help but note that one single high-scoring powerjam might have erased. The tension was incredibly high, and only further heightened by multiple official time-outs in the last few minutes of the game â nail-biting indeed! But the game really came down to those final moments when Cris Affliction got every last scoring possibility out of the very last jam of the game, as she brought ACDG into a final 210:193 victory. What a win! And what an upset for the start of the 2013 seasonâ¦ Angel City is certainly a team to watch this year!