Sunday, September 11, 2011

Windy City All Stars versus Kansas City Roller Warriors

CORRECTION: In Jam 4 of the second half, Windy City captain Jackie Daniels was penalized for an Out of Play Block after a No Pack was called. No further penalties were issued to Daniels. A second Windy City was penalized for Insubordination, but I was unable to determine who it was at the time.
Two regionally ranked No.1 seeds attacked the court at the UIC Pavilion, Chicago, on Saturday, September 10, 2011, in a bout that narrowed a point gap near the end only to disappoint the hometown crowd.

The Windy City All-Stars, ranked No. 1 in the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s North Central Region, invited the Kansas City Roller Warriors, No. 1 in WFTDA’s South Central region, back to Chicago for a chance at revenge for KC’s loss the only other time the two teams have met on September 20, 2008.

Kansas City won 111-92 in a bout surely to shape the Derby News Network’s power rankings for October 2011, well after the regional tournament season has started.

The Roller Warriors shaped the opening half with solid pack control and delayed jammer starts, stifling any tempo Windy City could muster despite a late game rally by Chicago.

KC would effectively wall in the back holding back Windy City captain Jackie Daniels, while Kelly Young nabbed lead and a grand slam, calling it before Daniels could enter the engagement zone to score, and setting the tempo for the remainder of the game.

Windy City dug a deeper hole in the second jam trying to get back into the game when Athena DeCrime was directed to the box for a major track cut penalty 0:32 into the jam. Chicago’s pack would answer – thanks to bridging from Sargentina --  holding KC’s Case Closed into the pack until she finally earned lead 1:10 remaining in the jam.

The third jam took the wind out of the Windy City, when Athena De Crime was released from the box, scored two grand slams in a power jam with Hall Balls serving time as the jammer, only to get called on a major Back Block. Daniels, too, was sentenced to 1 minute in the box for an Out of Play Block after a No Pack situation.

The UIC Pavilion crowd of 999 grew wrestles restless as several fans were complaining about missed calls against Kansas City, while lamenting the number of whistles coming in their players’ direction.

Zoe Trocious drew first blood in the Lead Jammer category for Windy City, nabbing lead after Roller Warriors Track Rat was called for a Track Cut. Trocious would not earn any points however, calling the jam with a 0-0 wash.

Despite the heightened anticipation from the crowd, two Official Time Outs were called after back to back jams. Chicago would try attempted to take advantage of two KC blockers in the box with a knee-down start, but Case Closed would play countered with some jammer defense to free her players from the box to and nullify the WCR pack advantage.

Varla Vendetta managed two trips to the box in Jam 9, giving Hall Balls a significant power jam. Balls would earn three scoring passes at five points apiece.

Chicago calls a timeout with 15:44 remaining in the first half, desperately searching for an answer to their woes.  KC took advantage of a power jam and a 4-2 blocker advantage with a knee down start. Kelly Young snagged lead jammer with 1:11 left in the jam. She would pick up 9 more points and call it before  a sprung Varla could begin earning points.

With a full-pack, Zoe Trocious, would earn lead and successfully call it with a 3-0 point swing, but not before teammate Yvette YourMaker would head to the box on her Four Minors.

After the third OTO of the first half, KC would jump on the opportunity to yank the momentum from Chicago’s hands. Their back wall, thanks to the help of Eclipse and Bruz-Her, would hold Athena DeCrime in the rear, while jammer Track Rat earned a Jammer Lap Point for 5 on her first scoring pass and 3 points (a pass, 2 Ghost Points) for an 8-0 swing in the Roller Warrior’s favor, 53-15.

YourMaker used excellent defensive positioning to knock Kelly Young Out of Bounds to force a Minor Track Cut; Young opting to come right in rather than yield ran straight into one of her own players , knocking her off balance and crumpling her into an awkward heap, much to the delight of the WCR fans.

Trocious would be the only WCR skater to pick up any more points before heading into the half time, earning Lead Jammer and 4 points against Case Closed. Meanwhile, penalties continued to plague Chicago, with Daniels boxed in two different jams, for a Track Cut in Jam 12 and a Back Block in Jam 17, both times as the Jammer but she would be released before First Half clock would run out.

Jammer DeCrime would also be boxed for a Track Cut in Jam 15.

The halftime score was 78-21 in Kansas City’s favor, lead mostly on their jammers’ ability to earn lead and points while capitalizing on Chicago’s inability to stem the bleeding to the box. Kansas City earned lead 14 times in the first half versus Windy City’s 3 (Zoe Trocious earned 3-0 in all three of her jams, earning her team 7 points for her effort). Even with Lead Jammer, Athena DeCrime was the only Chicago player to make multiple scoring passes, earing two grand slams in Jam 3.

Second half
Down by 57 points, Windy City would storm out of the locker room with Jackie Daniels taking the jammer line for Chicago. Daniels, shaking off her first-half penalty trouble would race through a weakened Kansas City pack (Eve-olution serving time in the penalty box) to pick up 9 points in two scoring passes, thanks to WCR’s defense holding Case Closed in the pack long enough for a Jammer Lap Point.

Wreck N Shrew, too, would respond  -- earning lead and four points (which had originally been reported as a 5 point grand slam. Faced with a 13-0 Chicago rally, Kansas City would call a timeout with 27:25 on the clock. A boxed Bork Bork Bork and Deb Autry would give the Roller Warriors the pack advantage, but Varla would still earn five points. Kansas City’s pack work looked sharp in Jam 3 of the second half. Eclipse worked hard at the front of the pack, with some tremendous blocking. KC would answer a Chicago 2-Wall in the front with their own 3-Wall in the back, managing to kill 2 minutes of game clock while only losing a 5-point swing.

Track Rat managed a 10-0 point swing in KC’s favor, despite not clearing the pack on her first pass until a minute-plus of jam clock had ran down. Jackie Daniels exhibiting some fierce blocking at the top of the pack, but get’s called on an Out of Play Block after a No Pack Call and an Insubordination after arguing her case with the referee. A second Windy City player was given an Insubordination penalty, but I couldn't make out to whom the penalty was awarded. I couldn’t tell if she was given a third, because the action happened on the far side (the straightaway between Turns 3 and 4. Unfortunately, a full Windy City box meant Daniels had to remain on the track to await an open seat.

KC Pivot Toto Basketcase displayed sharp positioning tactics holding the front inside line, often holding the opposing jammer back long enough  to reabsorb her. With a sixth sense about the pack behind her, she managed to engage the Jammer in the engagement zone, keenly aware of her positioning and not get called on Out of Play penalties.

Varla’s skill in the sixth jam orchestrated a comeback, with the help of a power jam. Track Rat took an intentional fourth minor, and Varal capitalized on a weaker KC pack. Designated Not Lead (due to a minor cut) with 1:46 left in the jam she picked up 3 grand slams before being sent to the box for a High Block Major.

I don’t see jammerless pack starts very often, but penalty hierarchy dictated that both Varla and Jade Lightning had to serve a full minute before being released. Both teams jockeyed for control, hoping to draw the other into penalty trouble or disadvantaged position. Varla would enter the track and earn lead with 0:58 left in the jam, with Lightning not far behind her. Windy City managed to stuff the KC jammer long enough for a grand slam and 2 points on her second scoring pass.

The referees called an Official Time Out with 16:02 left in the game. Windy City’s hopes of pulling out a win rested on the outcome of the next 15 or so minutes. Wreck N Shrew enticed the crowd to get into the game, rallying the fans around her. Harnessing the crowd’s energy Shrew managed to earn 3 points for Windy City, bringing the game to 93-64. WCR was down but not out, and the house was chomping at the bit with the taste of comeback in their mouth.

Another OTO with 14:15 left, KC would pick up a single point, thanks to Track Rat sprinting ahead forcing Lead Jammer Zoe Trocious to call it to quell a drastic point swing in Rat’s favor.

A visibly upset Windy City Co-Captain Ol’ Drrrty Go-Go came out to the infield to personally deliver some choice words to one of the jam refs, but bench coach Justice Feelgood Marshall coaxed her back to the Chicago bench before she got into any trouble.

After successfully poodling Kelly Young in the jam prior, Kansas City would fail to capitalize allowing Zoe Trocious to pick up a 5-5-4 jam after Track Rat was boxed for a Back Block Major. With their opponent’s jammer in the box, Windy City’s pack slowed the pack down to allow Trocious quick passes. She would earn Lead Jammer in 12 seconds, her first five in 30 seconds and her second five in 16 seconds. Time was definitely not on WCR’s side, but their pack work took advantage of what time they had left. The chants for Zoe were deafening.

Kansas called a timeout with 10:13 remaining the gap narrowed to 95-83, and an opportunity for Windy City to take the lead near. Track Rat managed a 2-0 point swing after getting the game clock rolling, Fueled by the chants of Zoe, Trocious answered with a 4-0 jam in the 13th, quickly calling it. Within 10 points, WCR called a timeout with 7:27 game clock remaining. In what appeared to be a lineup mistake, WCR’s pivot Jackie Daniels instead hands her cover to a teammate, and switching into jammer position relieving Wreck N Shrew.

Chicago would take a knee down start but Hall Balls would earn Lead Jammer, beating Jackie out of the pack by a second. Balls nabbed two points before calling it. Young, further complicating things for a Windy City bench, earned lead with a fantastic spinaround move with 1:20 to go in the jam against Trocious, who’s famous footwork and ragdoll juking looked to tire. Kansas City’s pack amazingly plugged the center lanes forcing Trocious into the high-risk inside/outside lanes.

The gap widened to 102-87, YourMaker managed a grandslam against Track Rat, again bringing the score within 10 points, 102-92

Windy City managed a front 3-Wall against KC jammer Balls, as Evolution worked furiously to free her jammer. Balls scored four points for her effort against Deb Autry.

With less than 2 minutes in the game and a 106-92 Kansas City lead, Windy City looked to throw a tired Zoe Trocious on to the track for a Hail Mary. Trocious with a phenomenal game had to be WCR’s go-to player of the night – if anyone could get through the pack cleanly for multiple passes it would have been Zoe.

Kansas City paired her up against veteran jammer Kelly Young. Pitting Experience against the Chicago jammer’s agility paid off for the Roller Warriors, as Young would earn lead with 1:36 left on the jam clock. With a 14 point gap to be mindful of, Young just had to skate clean and make sure Trocious didn’t outscore her. With 40 seconds left in the jam and the game clock experied, Young called the jam with five more points before Trocious could begin scoring.

The Kansas City Roller Warriors improved to 8-1 on the season, heading into the South Central Regional Tournament as the No. 1 seed and holding their ground as the Derby News Network's No. 7 ranked. Windy City All-Stars slip to 10-2 (both losses to higher ranked teams) and heading to the North Central Regional Tournament with their No. 1 seed.