New York Skate of Mind
Texecutioners fall to Gotham in Windy City
By Richard Whittaker,
1:29PM, Sat. Nov. 6, 2010
It wasn't the result they wanted, but if the Texas Rollergirls had to go out of Women's Flat Track Derby Association nationals to anybody, there were far worse teams to go out to than the Gotham Girls.
With their second day of opening bouts at the Uproar on the Lakeshore in Chicago, Texas came in battle-tested after yesterday's defeat of the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls. But the New York wrecking crew were rested after a first-round bye.
In warm-up, Texas looked glad to be there, with Crackerjack giddy and Belle Starr doing her trademark sideline dance. On the track, it came down to a difference in tactics. Texas clustered around the Gotham jammers, recycling and hoping for some heavy hits. The East Coast plan was simple but effective, with one wall at the front and one wall at the back. While Texas came in with a strong opening, Gotham soon struck back with with a jammer rotation that's the envy of most leagues.
Unlike the Bay Area bout, Texas got hit hard with penalties, leaving some small packs for Gotham captain Bonnie Thunders and Hyper Lynx to attack. A power jam gave Olivia Shootin' John a chance to pull closer, but with a halftime score of 65-39, it was going to be an uphill struggle.
The second period was the real heart breaker. While Gotham got on the right side of a couple of vital power jams, Texas got wedged on 42, having only scored three points for most of the second half. They got hurt when OJ got sent to the box for an elbow that no one seemed to see. (That's not home team kvetching: Even the Gotham fans on the floor were booing that call.)
It was really a battle of the defenses. Belle re-enforced her rep as the jammer killer, while Luce Bandit left the Gotham jammers befuddled about why exactly they couldn't get past her. Built like a lean positional blocker, she takes a hit and shakes it off like a powerhouse.
Finally shaking off the no-score blues with a four-pointer, courtesy of Bloody Mary, the Texies started the slow slog to the final whistle. With the slow rate of scoring, and defensive play by both teams, a win seemed unlikely, but the 151-52 final score kept them under that psychologically significant century differential.
The big takeaway remains that Texas, after arguably their hardest travel season ever, brought a tough defensive game to the highly-touted Gotham team, who came into the weekend as a firm favorite to get to the finals.
So now it's back to the drawing board for the 2011 season. On the home front, the big news is the move to the Austin Convention Center, but with some big name returnees and this year's rookies turning into a sterling sophomore class, the intra-league season looks more wide open than it has in a while.
On the travel team front, no one is denying that the 2010 season has been strewn with hard knocks to Texas' reputation as the indomitable force within WFTDA's South-Central region. But the undoubted growth over the season, the added cohesion, and the flourishing of the next generation of MVPs like Luce and Short Cut, promise a new-look Texecutioners with an eye to bringing the Hydra back home.
The Texies will undoubtedly miss the Angie-Christ, who heads to Houston in the New Year. Few skaters have held the front of the pack so well, and her unnerving ability to use positional blocking to gauge the 20 foot rule to the inch has deprived opponents of dozens of points in her tenure. That said, Austin's loss is Houston's gain, and a gain for the South-Central region. With Nashville and Atlanta both causing upsets in regionals, and a resurgent Kansas City team, the coastal powerhouses could see some serious competition from south of the Mason-Dixon next time around.