Sunday, June 10, 2012

Under the Boardwalk

Last night, Morristown’s Corporal Punishers women’s roller derby team in a home bout took on the Boardwalk Brawlers hailing from the South and Central Jersey Shore.

The Brawlers got off to a strong start with #17 Out-Break Meggo immediately breaking out and scoring 14 points in very first jam, while Brawlers blockers effectively held back the Punishers jammer. The third jam got off to a rough start as the opposing blockers tangled. Brawler #1337 FR3AK N’Rabbit, despite a hard take-down by Bruta Lee, pushed through as lead jammer. The Punishers pushed back with Maggy Kyllanfall #187 showing her characteristic talent for exploiting holes in the opposing defense, Heinz Catchup #57 showing her usual speed, and ASSault Shaker #AK 47 making the most of a power jam. It wasn’t enough to keep the Brawlers from expanding their lead and ending the first half with a commanding lead of 110-34.

The Brawlers showed off very good jammers, notably Lady Demeter, FR3AK N’Rabbit (not slowed by the rabbit ears on her helmet or her bunny tail), and Out-Break Meggo. Their blockers coordinated well, often forming a wall that was well-nigh impossible to break. Yet, this was not what gave them such a big advantage. After all, the Punishers have competent offense and defense, too. Rather, they were able to disrupt the Punishers time and time again by a perfectly legal but somewhat unorthodox tactic called Goating. The tactic exploits a derby rule that says “blockers may not block a jammer outside the zone of engagement.” The “zone of engagement” is no more than 20 feet behind the pack and no more than 20 feet ahead. The “pack” is a majority of the blockers. The Brawlers blockers would isolate and obstruct one Punishers blocker and then slow down, and those five thereby became the pack; the other Punishers suddenly would find themselves 20 feet in front of the pack and so were required by the rules to let the Brawler jammer sail past them and score points. The Punishers had been prepared better for shoulder-to-shoulder action than for this, and repeatedly gave up points on account of it. The Brawlers also used the Slow Start method to advantage (this uses up time when a key player is in the penalty box for a one-minute penalty), though this tactic is more common, and it is one the Punishers frequently use, too.

In the first jam of the Second Half the Punishers got off to a strong start with Heinz Catchup in a power jam. Blocking became more aggressive on both sides. Maggy Kyllanfall repeatedly racked up points, despite at one point taking a hard hit that sent her off track and into a wall. The Punishers were able to close the gap, at least in percentage terms, but the Brawlers maintained their lead. The clever tactics continued to be effective. Voldeloxx gamely skated as jammer for the Punishers the final jam as the clock ran out. The Brawlers prevailed 203-119. Skarlet Bekillyas (Brawlers) and Maggy Kyllanfall (Punishers) were MVPs.

As always, the bout was enjoyable to watch. I have a pretty good guess about what tactic the Punishers will be training to counter in their next practice session.

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