WINNING REGULAR SEASON SET NEW HIGHS FOR LEAGUE
(PART ONE OF A TWO-PART SERIES) by Muckety Muck – Photos by Bob Dunnell
When the Arch Rival Roller Girls All-Stars concluded its 2011 post-season with a sixth-place finish at the WFTDA North Central playoff in Indianapolis last October, the blueprint – or should we say “pink and black print” – for the 2012 interleague campaign was immediately implemented.
“Finishing sixth was bitter-sweet for us,” says ARRG blocker Shimmy Hoffa of last year’s result. “We came into that tournament ranked eighth, so we improved our ranking, but losing the fifth place game (against Chicago Outfit) at the end of it all was difficult.”
Even with the setback, the St. Louis flat-track rollers knew that the season had been a fruitful one – a 10-5 record overall. The two-spot jump from where they began the Indy playoff provided some comfort.
The incentive was most certainly there to achieve. And with a fully-seasoned roster of returning starters in place for the upcoming season, the All-Stars knew full well that they could potentially experience the same highs enjoyed in the past, if not surpass them.
Little did anyone know at the time how successful 2012’s regular season would become, considering the parity contained within the region.
“Our focus in the past has been on building up our individual skill and our footwork,” said ARRG blocker Eli Wallop. “This season has been about reining it in. We’ve got a much more disciplined team now than we’ve had in past years.”
That discipline – and more importantly, team cohesion – resulted in benchmarks never achieved before during the course of North Central play in 2012. Arch Rival collected upset wins over the squads ranked regionally third, fourth and fifth at the time.
The league also netted matching outcomes against similarly-ranked leagues from the comparable WFTDA South Central region as the summer progressed.
The end result was a 10-2 regular season record for the locals, which includes a current four-game winning streak and its highest regional ranking to date, a fourth-seeded position heading into the 2012 WFTDA North Central playoff, held two weekends from now in Niagara Falls, New York.
“I wish I could tell you that there was some magic formula,” said Arch Rival blocker Grave Danger of the team’s hard charge. “But no, we’re working together as a team, we’re training as a team and everybody’s hard work is coming through together. It’s an exciting time for the league.“
As Arch Rival prepares for its first-round playoff battle against fifth-ranked Ohio at “Thrill of the Spill,” here’s a look back at arguably the league’s best travel season historically.
MARCH 3: ARCH RIVAL 131 MADISON 121
The season opener held at Midwest Sport Hockey saw the locals prevail over the region’s tenth-ranked team in a barn-burner that foreshadowed the North Central’s eventual parity in 2012.
Madison utilized a 28-0 run during the middle stretch of the first period to open up a 34-10 lead and later pushed the advantage to 46-16 with 11:05 left.
Madison collected a similar 29-pointer in the early stages of the second period that gave the visitors a 93-72 lead with 20:00 left. The Rollin Dolls’ extended the advantage to 101-72 one jam later.
Arch Rival chipped away at the deficit as the period progressed and whittled Madison’s margin to 107-91 with 10:49 left. On the next jam, ARRG’s Black Market Baby netted a 16-point punch and tied the bout 107-107.
Madison went on a 14-0 rally afterwards, resulting in a 121-107 Rollin Dolls’ edge with 4:50 left.
In a bout that had been earmarked by numerous uncontested rallies, it was fitting that the final one made the most difference as an Arch Rival 24-0 run deep gave the locals a 131-121 advantage.
The locals staved off a last-jam effort by Madison and collected the ten-point win en route to picking up its first victory of the season.
“I feel like a derby dinosaur out there sometimes,” said Danger- a six-year vet – afterwards. “It takes a lot to get my adrenaline to get super-pumped, but games like this will do it.”
Boston paced Arch Rival scoring with 74 points followed by Black Market Baby’s 25.
MARCH 10: ARCH RIVAL 158 CINCINNATI 118
Arch Rival’s first road bout of the season, held in front of 3,500 at Cincinnati Gardens, saw St. Louis face the then-ranked number eight league of the North Central. ARRG’s 46-0 run from the bout’s onset immediately silenced the hometown contingent.
ARRG maintained a 33-point advantage at intermission, 85-52. The Black Sheep would narrow the deficit to twenty points with 20:00 left in the bout, but penalties would help Arch Rival stretch the lead to 150-93 as the period progressed.
Despite a late-bout Cincy rally to keep the differential respectable, ARRG recorded the 40-point win that improved the squad’s record to 2-0.
MARCH 11: OHIO 168 ARCH RIVAL 115
The following morning during the weekend trip in the Buckeye State saw Arch Rival suffer a closed-bout setback that inevitably resulted in a tumble in the region’s hierarchy.
Ohio – ranked two spots behind Arch Rival at the time of the bout – powered its way to a 66-9 lead midway through the first half. A 40-7 St. Louis run as the period progressed whittled the deficit to 73-49.
Ohio maintained control and sported a 101-60 lead at intermission. Aside from a 16-point power jam from Arch Rivals’ South City Shiner, St. Louis posted points few and far between in the second period.
ARRG was outscored by Columbus 67-55 in the final frame, resulting in the team’s first loss of the season. Boston scored 47 for Arch Rival, followed by Downtown Dallis’31.
APRIL 14: ARCH RIVAL 238 MEMPHIS 29
Perhaps the misfire in Columbus provided incentive for the locals. One could have not predicted the onslaught that occurred on the road against Memphis, then-ranked sixteenth in the WFTDA South Central.
Arch Rival kept the pressure consistent as the first period progressed and built a 128-12 lead at intermission.
The bout was highlighted by the blocking workhorses of St. Louis, paced by Chewblocka, Party Foul, Shimmy Hoffa, Science Friction, Grave Danger, The Educator, May Require Stitches and a host of others, which kept Memphis scoring to barely double-digits in both halves.
With a 46-0 run to start the second period, ARRG outscored Memphis 110-17 in the second half to collect the 209-point victory. Four St. Louis jammers collected 40-plus points apiece in the bout, paced by Boston’s 68, followed by Black Market Baby’s 66.
“We just wanted to get the game going and start putting points on the board,” said Hoffa afterwards. “We started the game intense and wanted to maintain that intensity throughout the rest of the game.”
MAY 5: ARCH RIVAL 173 BLEEDING HEARTLAND 58
The stubborn defense that showed its presence in Memphis returned home against the hard-charging team ranked #12 at the time within the North Central.
Arch Rival – who had now tumbled to number eight in the region as a result of the March Ohio loss – utilized a 41-0 rally early to gain the advantage. Boston’s twenty was followed by Dallis’ fifteen to give the locals a 42-4 lead ten minutes into the bout.
A 17-0 stretch for Arch Rival deep in the frame extended their lead to 68-23 at intermission.
Boston scored another 20-pointer early in the second half, which propelled a 61-2 second half run for the locals.
Arch Rival outscored BHRG 105-35 in the second half to pick up the duke that improved their North Central region mark to 3-1 and 4-1 overall.
“After seeing us play for about ten minutes, I wasn’t surprised because we were playing so well,” said ARRG blocker Scinece Friction following the bout. “I’m really happy that we were able to keep pushing through as a team for the whole game and putting that many points on the board.”
Boston scored 82 points for Arch Rival, followed by Dallis’ 43.
JUNE 2: ARCH RIVAL 186 DETROIT 130
St. Louis started the month of June by picking up its most prolific win at the time. In its first bout at Midwest Brewhaha 2012, Arch Rival pounced on the region’s fourth ranked team, who were at the time playing its first bout of the interleague season.
Detroit whittled the deficit and tied the score 40-40 midway through the period.
Following a 19-9 run that pushed Arch Rival’s lead to 59-49 deep in the frame, a power jam – which included a star pass to pivot May Require Stitches - netted 18 points and extended St. Louis’ lead to 77-53.
Propelled by Boston’s power jam in the first half’s finale, ARRG stretched the margin to 101-65 at intermission. She added a nine-pointer on the second period’s opening jam to push the lead to 110-65.
Detroit chipped away at the lead as the half continued and posted a 24-2 run that tightened ARRG’s margin to 112-89.
Both squads continued to trade blows, with Detroit slowly but surely inching back. With 14:00 left, Motown whittled St. Louis’ lead down to 127-111.
But then Arch Rival turned on the jets and capitalized on Detroit penalties on the next two jams, resulting in a 28-0 complexion-shifting run. Shiner and Boston scored back-to-back 14-pointers that extended St. Louis’ lead to 155-111 with 10:30 left.
After that, it was all about maintaining the cushion. ARRG outscored Detroit 31-19 in the final ten to pick up the 56-point upset win, improve its record to 5-1 and open eyes in the national derby scene.
JUNE 3: ARCH RIVAL 229 CINCINNATI 102
The St. Louis/Cincy rematch held on day two of Midwest Brewhaha gave the Black Sheep an opportunity to avenge the 40-point March setback, but Arch Rival would not let that happen with a dominant performance.
ARRG would then play Bo Peep…and lose the Black Sheep. Shiner began with a 10-pointer at 17:30 to extend the advantage to 24-10. Dallis scored 25 later that pushed the lead to 49-15.
Boston barreled out 25 points and extended St. Louis’ lead to 78-19 with 11:00 left in the period and eventually net a 111-30 lead at the half.
Points continued to roll for Arch Rival in the second period, who extended its lead to triple digits with the scoreboard reading 163-61 with 18:00 left to play.
St. Louis would shut the door and widen the margin down the stretch. Boston scored 19 on a power jam to make the score 189-74 with 11:00 left. Shiner added an additional fifteen two jams later, extending Arch Rivals’ lead to 208-86.
ARRG outscored Cincinnati 118-72 in the second half to pick up the 127-point win, sweep both bouts at Brewhaha, net its fourth straight win, boost its North Central region play to 5-1 and improve its overall record to 6-1.
JUNE 10: TEXAS 210 ARCH RIVAL 106
One week removed from the Brewhaha sweep, Arch Rival proceeded with a Texan doubleheader that saw bouts played within the span of eight hours, yet covered 240 Lone Star State miles.
In the morning battle against Texas – the top-ranked league of the WFTDA South Central – St. Louis fell behind early and suffered a 104-point loss in a closed bout held in Dallas.
The bout was ARRG’s first against the legacy league- which would earn the top seed later in the year for the South Central playoff. The loss dropped St. Louis’ record to 6-2.
JUNE 10: ARCH RIVAL 159 HOUSTON 138
The four-hour trek later in the day on Texas I-45 South saw Arch Rival eventually erase the setback experienced earlier with an upset over then-ranked #4 Houston.
The 21-point victory at the Bayou Music Center netted St. Louis its second win over a WFTDA region’s fourth-ranked squad and improve its record to 7-2 overall.
Houston would continue to charge hard as the season progressed and inevitably grab the third seed in the South Central region playoff.
JULY 7: ARCH RIVAL 206 NASHVILLE 64
St. Louis continued its trek against South Central teams in a July match-up in the Music City against the league then-ranked third in the region.
Following an early-bout deficit, Arch Rival utilized a 28-0 run to help them build 40-19 lead with 12:00 left in the first period.
Few would have projected the shutdown that changed the bout’s overall complexion early in the second half as Arch Rival proceeded with a 90-0 quad-stompin’ rally. After Shiner posted a 20-pointer at 25:00 that extended the lead to 93-41, Black Market Baby tallied twenty of her own two jams later. Shiner then added 24 at 16:50 to stretch the margin to triple digits and BMB finished the rally with a 10-point power jam at 14:00.
When the dust had settled after the onslaught, a once-workable differential for Nashville had become insurmountable and Arch Rival held a commanding 163-41 lead.
Arch Rival’s defense was tight throughout the second period, holding Nashville scoring to a dozen points until the bout’s final two jams. St. Louis outscored Music City 135-27 in the second half en route to the 142-point victory and improved to 8-2.
“I felt like we were playing some stellar defense and then our jammers were able to capitalize and put up points,” assessed Arch Rival blocker Chewblocka afterwards. “That’s a great combination to have. We wore them down with our strategy and with our game play.”
Boston topped Arch Rival scoring with 68, followed by Shiner’s 56.
JULY 14: ARCH RIVAL 191 CHICAGO OUTFIT 100
The following weekend saw the locals face at Midwest Sport Hockey the squad that upended them in last year’s fifth-place bout at the North Central region playoff.
Both teams traded points as the first period progressed. Dallis’ 24-point power jam with 9:30 left was countered by an Outfit 20-pointer deep.
Arch Rival held a 77-65 advantage at intermission but then blew the doors wide open as the second period progressed. A 57-0 Arch Rival rally resulted in a 158-72 lead with 10:00 left.
The ARRG block contingent put the clamp on Outifit scoring in the second half, holding the Northern Illinoisans to seven points recorded in twenty minutes.
Arch Rival outscored Chicago Outfit 114-35 in the second half en route to the 91-point win and improve to 6-1 in the North Central and 9-2 overall.
“This was a really big deal for us,” reflected blocker The Educator after the bout. “We wanted this kind of momentum going into regionals. This adds more fuel to our fire.”
Boston topped Arch Rival scoring with 79 points while Dallis added 49.
AUGUST 4: ARCH RIVAL 115 NAPTOWN 99
The hard summer charge of St. Louis vaulted them up four positions in the North Central rankings. Arch Rival – now ranked fourth – played arguably its best interleague derby ever against the league from Indianapolis, ranked third in the region and looking for a return trip to the WFTDA National Championships. The ARRG home bout in Ballwin had plenty of interest within the national derby community.
Naptown posted a 23-13 lead with 15:00 left in the half, but then Arch Rival capitalized on back-to-back power jams, resulting in 26 unanswered points. Black Market Baby’s seven-point bump was followed by Dallis’ 19-point thump, which gave St. Louis a 39-23 lead with 11:15 left.
Scoring was tight as the first period reached its conclusion, yet Arch Rival had managed to extend its margin to 53-30 at intermission.
Naptown charged hard in the opening stages of the second and went on an 18-3 run in the period’s first four jams. Indy whittled the deficit to 56-48.
ARRG’s Shiner extended St. Louis’ advantage to 70-53 with 21:40 left. After Naptown scored five on the next jam to whittle the margin to a dozen points, Arch Rival went on a 38-0 rally in the second half’s middle stretch that altered the complexion of the bout. Shiner’s 14-point power jam at 10:10 put the exclamation point on the rally, which gave Arch Rival a 108-58 cushion.
Naptown made a late-bout surge to make the contest a nail biter, racking up 31 points uncontested and whittling the once-50-point margin to 108-89 with 4:30 left.
Arch Rival killed the clock while keeping Sirens’ scoring at bay. The 16-point upset over the region’s third ranked squad resulted in the 16-point win. ARRG finished the regular season with four straight wins, a North Central region record of 7-1 and an overall record of 10-2.
“Our heads are spinning,” beamed Arch Rival jammer Downtown Dallis following the victory. “We’re really trying to make a statement. We’re really doing it together as a team and encouraging each other. This is something that we have never experienced before as a league. It’s so humbling.”
Dallis paced Arch Rival scoring with 39 points, followed by Shiner’s 34.
Overall, Arch Rival’s 10-2 record netted the league its most regular season interleague wins in the franchise’s WFTDA history. Its current North Central region ranking of fourth is also a new league high.
The St. Louis rollers look to keep that momentum rolling at “Thrill of the Spill,” beginning Friday, September 14.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about this team’s potential,” says Wallop.
A victory over fifth-ranked Ohio (20-1) in the opening round would also net Arch Rival another achievement, its inaugural trip to the North Central playoff semifinals.
But that won’t be an easy task, for the obstacle in the way is a talented group of green-clad rollers that set historical benchmarks themselves in 2012.
Next Monday, we continue our two-part playoff series with a preview of Arch Rival’s first-round bout vs. Ohio, as well as a look at the other eight squads competing at “Thrill of the Spill.”
Live web coverage of “Thrill of the Spill” will be provided by the Womens Flat Track Derby Association. More information on the webcast coverage will be presented next week.