FACES OHIO IN WFTDA PLAYOFF OPENER THIS FRIDAY!
by Muckety Muck, ARRG Bout Co-Announcer – Photos by Bob Dunnell
Beginning Friday, ARRG competes at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) Division 1 playoff round in Ft. Wayne, Indiana at the Allen County War Memorial.
Arch Rival, seeded third in the ten-team tournament, faces sixth-seeded Ohio in a quarterfinal match-up that begins at 8 pm Eastern/7 pm Central. The winner of the contest earns a trip to the semifinals to face an opponent to be determined in a bout that is slated for Saturday at 4 pm Eastern/3 pm Central.
Fans can watch the entire three-day tournament online at wftda.tv for $12. Go to THIS LINK RIGHT HERE for more information. (Muckety Memo: A FREE audio-only stream is also available at the website.)
The top-three finishers of the ten-team tourney advance to the WFTDA Division 1 Championships, held in November in Milwaukee.
The St. Louisans (11-4 and currently ranked #11 in the WFTDA) know that the recent sweat-equity invested the past few weeks is imperative heading into the Ft. Wayne.
“We show up to practice, we put in the work and we truly operate as a team,” said ARRG blocker Rhino-Might recently. “Everybody truly has each other’s back and I don’t expect anything less. I expect us to go into Fort Wayne locked and loaded and ready to prove something.”
Rhino’s description of “team operation” has been a recurring mantra for the team in 2013. The squad notched its most significant victory to date in August with a 132-127 victory over WFTDA perennial powerhouse Minnesota, a team that has advanced to the WFTDA Championships the past three years.
“I’m really proud in the fact that we played every jam and had a strong finish,” said ARRG jammer/blocker Smarty McFly of the five-point nail biter. “We stayed out on the track and played for the last jam. We also managed the time, which was important.”
That win gave Arch Rival a good push of momentum heading into the post-season. Composed of a line-up that features seasoned playoff veterans and hard-charging youngsters, the team looks ready to impress the derby universe.
“Internally, I think our team has changed a lot this year even though we have lot of the same core players from last year,” said ARRG blocker Grave Danger. “We have focused a lot on team work and execution.”
This execution resulted in eye-popping results in 2013, including new team benchmarks in total wins during the regular season (11), points accumulated in a single bout (439) and winning differential in a single bout (+344.)
But keep in mind that none of these achievements would have been obtained if it weren’t for the team mentality that Danger refers to. One merely pointing out one or two players as the “star athlete” in today’s competitive WFTDA landscape simply doesn’t do a squad justice.
In short, ARRG is heading into Ft. Wayne as one cohesive unit. It’s has to be that way in the post-season for a team to achieve victory.
In the jamming rotation, veterans South City Shiner and Mighty Mighty Boston are joined by All-Star rookie Brickyard. The three arguably have had their most productive and consistent seasons as skaters. McFly is also projected to get a few rotations with the jammer panty.
Opening up the holes for offensively (and conversely, shutting down the opposition defensively) will be the most-impressive roster of blockers ever fielded by the travel squad. McFly, Might and Danger will be complimented by veterans Chewblocka, Science Friction, The Educator, Shimmy Hoffa, Pink Diamond, Eli Wallop and the “1-2 pivot punch” of May Require Stitches and Mayor Francis Slayer.
For the post-season, the team can bring a charter of up to 20 players. Also travelling to Ft. Wayne will be recent ARRG transfer Tupac Shank-her, Saint Lunachix co-captain Morgan LeFaetal, as well as playoff charter newcomers Professor Rumbledore, IDA the Living Dead and the Ginger Assassin.
A solid line-up? Ya betcha! Should the other nine teams competing this weekend by wary? Absolutely!
Is Friday’s quarterfinal opponent intimidated? Not a chance in hell! They faced ARRG in a similar playoff situation last year…and upended the locals.
Ohio (15-5 and ranked #21 in the WFTDA) upended a higher-seeded Arch Rival in the quarterfinals of the 2012 North Central playoff in Niagara Falls. The 142-132 victory sent ARRG tumbling into the consolation bracket. Meanwhile, Ohio finished the New York playoff fourth, its highest achievement to date.
ARRG found redemption this season as it thumped Columbus 179-108 on May 4 at Midwest Sport Hockey.
However, that lingering 10-point loss in 2012 at Niagara Falls still provides incentive and ammunition for St. Louis heading into Friday.
“I think last year we under-estimated Ohio and I can guarantee you that we will never under-estimate their abilities again,” reflected Danger. “They have amazing skaters and we have amazing skaters, but I think last year they wanted it more. This year I can promise you that we want it so much more than they do.”
And Ohio wants it as well. After all, this is a team that has followed a similar trajectory as ARRG.
Columbus began 2013 with seven straight wins. Following back-to-back losses to Charm City and Arch Rival, the team rebounded with victories over Blue Ridge, Tampa Bay and Pikes Peak.
Ohio posted back-to-back upsets over higher-ranked teams in June, a 196-147 win over #15 Detroit and a 232-106 slap down of #13 Naptown.
Columbus heads into Ft. Wayne with three straight victories, punctuated by a 432-29 shellacking of #50 Carolina three weeks ago.
Much like Arch Rival, Ohio contains a balanced mix of veterans and youngsters. Leading the “greenclads” in the jammer rotation are the stealth-like The Smacktivist, hard-charging multi-position specialist Phoenix Bunz and veteran Kitty Liquorbottom.
Pacing the blocking schema are talented veterans Pippi RIpYourStockings, Bratislava Bruiser, Amy Spears and Lorraine Acid.
Friday night’s finale in Ft. Wayne is eagerly anticipated by both. The winner retains its respective dream for post-season success and a potential trip to the WFTDA Championships. Conversely, the team that suffers defeat immediately gets bounced to the consolation bracket and its Hydra Cup expectations immediately cease.
“I expect it to be a cut-throat game and I expect both teams to be super-charged,” says Danger.
100% agreed. We’ll find out more as the weekend progresses!
Arch Rival and Ohio are just two of the 10 talented teams battling for post-season glory this weekend at the Allen County War Memorial. Here’s a look at the other eight squads in this weekend’s playoff round.
(1) DENVER (WFTDA #2, 6-6) – The cream of the crop from Colorado finished third last year’s WFTDA Championships. The Ft. Wayne top seed faces the winner of the Bleeding Heartland/Cincinnati quarterfinal play-in bout Friday afternoon. The “Mile High Club” pummeled ARRG 390-115 at Rollercon last month. Denver also posted wins over #4 Bay Area , #17 Minnesota , #21 Kansas City, #22 No Coast and #27 Wasatch. A return trip to Champs is a safe bet.
(2) MONTREAL (WFTDA #8, 10-4) – The “New Skids on the Block” pushed their way up the WFTDA rankings in 2013. Montreal, fifth place finishers at last year’s West region playoff, is looking for its first trip to a WFTDA playoff semifinal this weekend. Montreal plays the winner of the Wasatch/Grand Raggidy quarterfinal play-in bout. The team has pummeled lower-ranked opposition, but its only win over a WFTDA Top-20 opponent was a 43-point win over #20 Charm City in June. Is the team’s second seed misleading? They’ll look to silence the critics this weekend.
(4) LONDON (WFTDA #16, 3-3) – If not for a whirlwind US trek made during one week in June, “London Brawling” wouldn’t have met the required number of WFTDA sanctioned bouts to meet post-season play eligibility. That being said, this is a very, very, very good squad. UK’s finest posted a 215-139 upset over #12 Rat City and stayed close in losses to #3 Oly and #10 Windy City. Could the Union Jack grab one of three coveted spots? It’s not a far stretch.
(5) ROSE CITY (WFTDA #19, 5-2) – After making its first WFTDA Championship trip in 2011, Portland lost the third place bout at the 2012 West region playoff. The highlight of 2013 thus far was an 18-point win over #9 Rocky Mountain. They get the tough task of facing London in the quarterfinals. The 4 vs. 5 match-up is a stomach turner, because either London or Rose City is going to see its respective WFTDA Champs dreams quashed immediately, even though both would be worthy participants in Milwaukee come November. If they survive London, they could be a potential top three.
(7) WASATCH (WFTDA #24, 4-4) – For the confused, Wasatch hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. For the educated, the Midnight Terror is a solid squad against comparable competition. They posted a 214-148 victory over #28 Sacred City in May. This will be Wasatch’s second WFTDA playoff appearance. Ninth place finishers in the 2012 West region playoff, the squad faces tenth-seeded Grand Raggidy Friday afternoon for a quarterfinal berth.
(8) CINCINNATI (WFTDA #32, 10-3) – A resurgence for the other Buckeye team competing at Ft. Wayne this weekend. A team that had been in disarray for the past two years posted impressive victories in 2013, including wins over #30 Jacksonville, #33 Nashville and #39 Toronto. The key was propelled by the return of veteran Sadistic Sadie, a physical and emotional presence. When she’s on and plays clean, the Black Sheep are a solid squad. Conversely, her aggressive play and her ensuing penalties puts this squad in a funk. Can one player truly make or break a team’s success in the post-season? That might be the most important question for Cincy this weekend.
(9) BLEEDING HEARTLAND (WFTDA #35, 6-7) – If ever there was an “Exhibit A” of the WFTDA’s newly calculated rankings system benefitting a squad, the Flatliners certainly fit the bill. A team that had been historically on “the outside looking in” within the complexion of the former WFTDA North Central region, Bloomington gets its first-ever post-season bid based upon strength of schedule and results. Wins over Cincinnati, #40 Grand Raggidy and #44 Brewcity helped them earn their first-ever post-season bid. BHRG also held tight in a 251-189 loss to Arch Rival in May. They have Cincinnati in a quarterfinal play-in bout on Friday. A win would be monumental for this scrappy team.
(10) GRAND RAGGIDY (WFTDA #40, 3-6) - Welcome back to the WFTDA playoff dance, Grand Raggidy! Out of the post-season picture since 2009, GRRG also benefitted with its strength of schedule. The team posted wins at Midwest Brewhaha over Paper Valley and Babe City to help its cause. They are projected to struggle against seven-seeded Wasatch on Friday. However, one still has to feel good that an original member of the WFTDA made it to the playoff round after sitting on the sidelines for so long.
Muckety Muck and Magilla Guerilla are bout co-announcers for the Arch Rival Roller Girls. Check back in this section on Mondays for the latest in ARRG news and information.