(Story by Brian Ledford – Photos by Bob Dunnell)
(MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA) Finding themselves in the semifinals of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) global tournament Saturday night, the Arch Rival All Stars knew they had a heavy task ahead, a meeting with defending Hydra Cup possessors, the undefeated Rose City Rollers Wheels of Justice.
It was quite a challenge and St. Louis was certainly game. In the first half, the locals had rebounded from two deficits and only trailed by a dozen at intermission.
Inevitably, Rose City was able to show those live at Complexe Sportif Claude-Robillard why winning back-to-back titles. A 91-43 second period performance propelled the Wheels of Justice to a 155-95 victory over ARCH.
The setback pushed ARCH into Sunday’s bronze medal game at 2 pm Eastern (1 pm Central) against Victorian Roller Derby League.
Even in loss, there were plenty of positives to take away from the game for ARCH. For starters, they were able to stay toe-stop to toe-stop early with a squad that had not been defeated in 11 sanctioned games. The final differential (-60) was also the tightest by a Rose City opponent this season. Finally, ARCH defense held the Wheels of Justice to their lowest point total of the season.
This blocking battalion, paced by Vicious VanGoGo, Kayla Woodward, Shear-Ra Powers, Cloak N’ DragHer, Smarty McFly, Bolt Action, LuxFurious, Thestral, Splatter, Dad Bod and Cruella, would be instrumental in a first-period tussle that had the derby universe abuzz.
Trailing 27-14 after five jams, ARCH produced a 21-0 rally that resulted in a lead change. A power jam in Jam 6 resulted in an eight-point tally by Loki Doki that shored the score to 27-22. On the ensuning power start, Annie Swanson gained lead and posted seven, which resulted in a 29-27 lead change in favor of Arch Rival with 16:00 left.
Rose City (9-0) countered with fifteen straight, collectively achieved by Loren Mutch, Bonnie Thunders and Beyond Thunderdame, and regained the lead, 42-35 with 8:40 left in the half.
Following a 4-4 push in Jam 14, scoring was silent for two rotations and the seven-point differential remained. With roughly four minutes left, Thunderdame scored six that extended the Wheels of Justice’s lead to 52-39.
ARCH countered with a two-jam frenzy as Bricktator’s seven points scored with two minutes left was followed by Doki’s six on the penultimate jam and the baker’s dozen sprint resulted in a 52-52 tie heading into the final rotation.
A rare Arch Rival miscue resulted in a power jam for Rose as the period clock approached goose eggs and Thunders and company made the most of it with a dozen points collected within jam clock time. The late swipe of points resulted in the Wheels of justice’s 64-52 edge at intermission.
What made matters worse was that Thunders called off the jam while the ARCH jammer was still in the penalty area, resulting in a Rose City power start to start the second period of play. Taking full advantage, Mutch quickly claimed lead in the second period’s launcher and rounded out a ten point tally that pushed the lead to 74-52.
This began a 22-0 run for Rose and ARCH found themselves on the ropes. When the dust had settled, Rose City widened the lead to 86-52 after Thunders’ three-point pass in Jam 5.
Arch showed flashes of offense as the period progressed but was not able to string together a large enough amount to crack the 30-point barrier.
Rose City inevitably clinched the game with about twelve minutes left as Thunders score a dozen points that push the score to 124-70. The WoJ outscored ARCH 91-43 in the second half en route to the 155-95 semifinal win and Hydra Cup showdown with Gotham Sunday afternoon.
Both Bricktator and Loki scored 24 apiece for ARCH, who will make their first bronze medal game appearance Sunday against VRDL. The pair met earlier this year at La Classique Georgia W. Tush Invitational in June and Victorian survived a 132-115 throwdown.
With their performance Saturday night, one can already assume that ARCH is ready to gain the equalizer and, in the process, claim a medal.
ARCH INDIVIDUAL SCORING: Bricktator 24, Loki Doki 24, Annie Swanson 23, Jedi Knight-N-Gale 8, Vicious Van GoGo 8, Bolt Action 4.
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