LOCALS HEAD INTO PLAYOFFS WITH EIGHTH SEED!
by the Grand Poobah, ARRG Bout Announcer
(PART ONE OF A TWO-PART SERIES)
After all the long-term planning, preparation and practicing -it’s almost time for the post-season.
And for the Arch Rival Roller Girls’ All-Stars, the long wait is nearly over – yet, the journey is just beginning. ARRG will have a chance to show the other squads of the WFTDA North Central region what it’s made of.
ARRG begins its playoff journey in less than two weeks at the WTFDA North Central playoffs – entitled “Monumental Mayhem” – held October 7-9 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN.
In the nationwide playoff system, each of the four WFTDA regions holds a weekend tournament featuring the top ten-ranked teams in their respective region. The top three finishers at each of the four region playoffs advance to the WFTDA 2011 Championships, held November 11-13 in Broomfield, CO.
In their first round match-up at “Monumental Mayhem,” ARRG – ranked eighth in the North Central – faces #9 Chicago Outfit on Friday, October 7.
As one of 28 teams in the North Central region eligible for post-season play, ARRG’s invite was satisfying enough. Through hard work and determination, the rollers from the Gateway City were able to steadily climb in 2011 to secure a post-season berth.
ARRG’s playoff journey in 2011 actually began in September 2010. At last year’s North Central region tournament, Arch Rival – then ranked eighth – went winless in the post-season, finishing tenth.
No doubt, the frustrations experienced at last year’s tourney provided enough incentive for ARRG to refocus, regroup and reorganize its methodology in 2011.
The task would not be easy for ARRG. A pre-season ranking of #11 in the North Central immediately saw the locals on the outside looking in. The rapidly-shifting parity of the region added obstacles for a potential return appearance.
Fortunately for ARRG, it was challenge that was immediately accepted and inevitably executed, as the All-Stars – who finished WFTDA-sanctioned bouts with a record of 8-3 – had one of its most-productive and successful regular seasons in franchise history.
“I feel like this season we have really dialed up the intensity,” said ARRG All-Star blocker Eli Wallop of the team’s progression. “The expectations were a lot higher. Everyone focused on developing their own personal game. We’ve been pushing one another to get better.
“I think the increased speed, the increased aggression and the increased competition has done great things for our team.”
ARRG’s reigning MVP is direct in her statements. Yes, the 2011 regular season saw ARRG methodically chip away at the other teams of the North Central in order to gain a top-10 ranking.
The 2011 regular season saw the locals post impressive victories over higher-ranked teams and commanding wins over lower-ranked teams in the region, which resulted in a North Central region record of 7-2.
First, a recap of the 2011 season for the ARRG All Stars…
FEBRUARY 5: NAPTOWN 152 ARRG 105
The locals’ season opener saw them in front of their largest crowd ever – a sold-out Indiana Convention Center in front of over 3,500. The bout against the hardest-charging team in the North Central – ranked fourth in the upcoming tournament – gave a glimpse of what to expect in 2011. The “pink and black attack” avenged a large deficit from the onset and finished the first half up 67-60. Indy went on 35-0 early in the second half to stop the momentum and cruise to victory. South City Shiner paced ARRG with 55 points.
MARCH 19: PIKES PEAK 101 ARRG 155
A long trip to Colorado in March netted an impressive win over a legacy team in the West Regional, ranked #10 at the time. The 54-point road win – which evened the WFTDA-sanctioned season record at 1-1 -let those know in the WFTDA that this was a team that was progressively improving in a short amount of time.
APRIL 23: DEMOLITION CITY 68 ARRG 197
The locals continued their play in the North Central against one of its newest-sanctioned members. The squad from Evansville, IN was no match for ARRG as the locals raced out to a 97-31 lead at halftime. ARRG would post 100 points in the second half to pick up their second straight win and even its North Central region record. Downtown Dallis netted 82 points for ARRG while Mighty Mighty Boston collected 53.
MAY 14: ARRG 147 OHIO 69
ARRG’s first home bout of 2011 saw them paired up in a competitive match-up against a team at the time ranked one spot behind in the rankings. At first, it seemed that ARRG -ranked tenth at the time of the bout – was in a funk as Ohio bullied its way to a 49-40 lead at intermission. The two would be tied at 59-59 with 20:00 remaining. ARRG went on a 30-2 run in the next six minutes to gain the advantage. A tired and short-handed Buckeye team was unable to keep pace as ARRG outscored Ohio 127-20 in the second half to pick up its third straight victory and improve to 2-1 in the region. Dallis scored 56 while Boston contributed 49.
MAY 21: ARRG 129 CHICAGO OUTFIT 72
Arguably ARRG’s most intense bout of 2011 took place on the opening day of the Midwest Brewhaha Invitational in Wisconsin. At the time of the bout, the #9 Outfit were one spot ahead of ARRG in the region’s rankings. After being in a donnybrook in the first twenty of the bout, St. Louis went on a 28-0 run in the first half’s waning minutes and posted a 75-30 lead at the half. A stubborn blocking wall held the Syndicate at bay in the second half and preserved a 57-point win, which opened the eyes of those who followed the national derby scene. Dallis scored 45 while Shiner contributed 23 in ARRG’s fourth win a row, boosting the team’s record to 4-1.
MAY 22: ARRG 147 BURNING RIVER 87
ARRG started day two at Brewhaha in a bit of a lull against then-ranked #15 Burning River. In the early-morning match-up, Cleveland’s best built up a 34-12 lead twelve minutes in. Aggressively, ARRG would tie the score 48-48 with 8:00 left in the first half. St. Louis would keep Burning River scrambling for the remainder of the half to lead 77-53 at intermission. ARRG went on a 22-0 run to start the second half and never looked back. The 60-point win enabled the locals to finish Brewhaha undefeated and extend the overall win streak to five bouts. Boston finished with 76 points while Dallis added 35.
JUNE 11: ARRG 181 NORTHSTAR 40
ARRG returned home to post a victory that sent a shock over the North Central region. Northstar – at the time ranked #7 – was a squad that was going through a restructuring process. Capitalizing on a line-up that was short on firepower, ARRG jettisoned early. After netting a 58-23 lead at intermission, St. Louis would post a 47-0 rally in the second half’s early stages to skewer the Minnesotans. Thanks to the blocking schematic up front, ARRG outscored its region counterpart 123-17 in the second half to pick up its sixth straight win and improve to 6-1. Boston scored 77 points for ARRG while Dallis netted 55 and Shiner contributed 31.
JULY 9: CHICAGO OUTFIT 164 ARRG 104
ARRG ventured into Chicagoland looking to sweep the regular season battle against its North Central rival. However, the hosts delivered the same first-half punch that was conversely delivered in their inaugural match-up. Thanks to a 37-0 first-half run, the Syndicate took a 76-43 lead into intermission. ARRG would never be able to tap into the insurmountable lead and would inevitably fall by 60 points, thus breaking a six-bout win streak. Dallis scored 48 to pace the locals, who fell to 6-2 with the loss.
JULY 16: ARRG 137 GRAND RAGGIDY 59
ARRG returned to Midwest Sport Hockey one week later to face a North Central squad that was also reloading and rebuilding. The locals raced out to a 38-1 lead over the then-ranked #14 team in the North Central. St. Louis held a 51-30 lead at intermission. With a 52-0 run in the second half’s first five jams, ARRG pulled ahead and outscored the Grand Rapids’ rollers 86-29 in the final frame to snatch its seventh win in 2011 and improve their North Central record to 6-2. Boston scored 64 points while Dallis netted 32.
AUGUST 13: KANSAS CITY 146 ARRG 80
The All-Stars went cross-state to face the top-seed in the ultra-competitive South Central region. Kansas City, the defending region champs, exploded out of the gates due to its superior firepower. A 46-0 rally early in the first half helped the Roller Warriors build up a 91-31 lead at the break. ARRG tried to keep up pace but the deficit was too much to make up. A late ARRG rally kept the match somewhat respectable. Boston finished with 39 to lead ARRG, who fell to 7-3 in WFTDA-sanctioned bouts.
AUGUST 20: ARRG 297 SIOUX FALLS 18
A rebound – and then some! One week later, ARRG returned to home cookin’ and posted its most lopsided victory in franchise history against the #16 team in the North Central. The locals posted the most points scored, the fewest points allowed and the largest margin of victory in its franchise’s WFTDA-sanctioned history. An unprecedented 96-0 first-half rally set the tone in this one. Up 137-4 at the break, ARRG outscored Sioux Falls 160-14 in the second half to finish the regular season 8-3 overall and 7-2 against North Central foes. Four ARRG skaters scored over 50 in the bouts, with Dallis leading with 77 points, followed by Boston’s 73.
In all, 2011 provided quite a turnaround for a team that finished 2010 with a record of 5-12.
So what was tantamount to the turnabout? There have been changes to the operation of the ARRG All-Stars in 2011 involving both the veterans and the younger crop of talent that has resulted in the upswing.
Infusion of new blood – As pointed out last week, ARRG has been blessed with the solid play of its first-time rookies, specifically May Require Stitches, Shimmy Hoffa and Stabby McCutcha. All three brought prior skating experience, which amped up the level of play at the blocking position. Add to that the progression of first-time All-Star Boston, who blossomed as a top-flight jammer, and Smarty McFly, who brought her “street smarts” to the flat-track.
Impact of the transfers – Although they were late-additions to last year’s travel squad, both Chewblocka and Party Foul found significant responsibilities at the blocker position with a full travel season under their belts. This would lead to more balance in the pack rotations.
Repositioning of veterans – Some inside and outside of ARRG nation might have questioned the decision of moving 2010 scoring leader Artemischief into a blocker position to begin 2011. In hindsight, this movement actually provided great results. It added another layer to the blocking rotation and it kept one of ARRG’s smartest skaters out there for numerous jams against tough competition. Artemischief’s move to the front wall provided the space for Dallis and Boston to excel at jammer position. The movement of The Educator to a more predominate role of blocker also provided another solid skater up front without sacrificing scoring.
Less time in the “sin bin” – Late-bout penalties were cause of numerous setbacks in 2010. That was heavily slashed this season. Also, ARRG was able to capitalize on numerous first-half power jams in 2011, resulting in quick early sprints that evolved into comfortable leads.
Returning veterans’ smarts – No one questioned the workload of multi-year vets Wallop, Mayor Francis Slayer and South City Shiner, who continued their consistently solid level of play. One more year of seasoning resulted in productive years for all three.
The braintrust on the bench – Regardless of the sport, it’s often advantageous to have numerous sets of eyes assessing the game play and to provide guidance as time progresses. This eliminates the burdens associated with a one-person coaching staff. ARRG brought to the table in 2011 a very solid and diverse set of bench coaches, each with their own specialties. Magnum P.I.M.P. – a lynchpin of the STLGatekeepers, the MRDA’s #1 team – returned to the fold full-time in 2011. Hi-Refinition, a highly-respected official who knows the in’s and out’s of the sport, brought invaluable knowledge to the bench. High Pains Drifter, another officiating vet and key figure in local men’s flat track derby, contributed in numerous aspects. And Grave Danger, while nursing injury in the first-half of the travel season, brought her knowledge to the youngsters. This quartet divvied responsibility well and provided the “voices of reason” that assisted the progression of the squad.
As one can see, it’s not just one factor, but many that were instrumental in ARRG’s upswing in 2011. Although ARRG finds itself entering the North Central playoffs with the exact same seed as 2010, one will have to admit that the squad looks very promising to eliminating the setbacks experienced in the post-season one year ago.
The pieces of the puzzles are there. It’s a matter of making them fit perfectly in Indianapolis, which is precisely the modus operandi of ARRG in less than two weeks.
NEXT WEEK IN PART TWO OF OUR SERIES: We’ll look at the other nine squads on quads competing at “Monumental Mayhem” and what to expect from ARRG in its first-round round “rubber match” against Chicago Outfit.
ARRG TO APPEAR AT GROVEFEST THIS WEEKEND!
The Arch Rival Rival Roller Girls will be performing exhibition bouts at the sixth-annual Grovefest, held this Saturday in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis.
ARRG will perform a pair of exhibition bouts in the parking lot of The Gramophone (4243 Manchester, St. Louis). The exhibitions take place at 4:30 pm and 8 pm. Admission is $5 for each 40-minute bout.
Grovefest is a FREE yearly and uniquely fun, edgy neighborhood street festival featuring live music, live and interactive art, fashion shows, tattoo competitions, street performers, and of course, local food and drinks of the Grove’s and St. Louis’s finest establishments.
To find out more about Grovefest, go to this link RIGHT HERE!
ARRG ROOKIE RIVALS FALL IN ST. CHARLES
(ST. PETERS, MO) The ARRG Rookie Rivals – the league’s developmental squad of unrostered skaters – fell to the St. Chux Derby Chix Hells Belles 173-48 at Matteson Square Garden Saturday night.
The Rookie Rivals fell to 2-2 in 2011. We’ll keep you up to date on any future bouts with this promising group here at archrivalrollergirls.com!
OLY ROLLERS WIN WFTDA WEST REGIONAL
(PORTLAND, OR) In the second of four WFTDA regional playoffs, the Oly Rollers defeated Rocky Mountain 143-106 in the finals of the West Regional “Bridgetown Brawl” on Sunday.
With their finishes, both teams gained a berth to November’s WFTDA 2011 Championships in Colorado.
Joining the two in the upcoming national finale will be Rose City (Portland), who defeated Rat City 186-134 to claim third place.
The WFTDA post-season continues with the third stop on the four-region playoff circuit, the South Central playoffs. “Show Me Derby-Q” begins this Friday in Kansas City, MO.
The Grand Poobah and Hells LaBelle are bout announcers for the Arch Rival Roller Girls. Check back in this section on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news/information.