“Sometimes a good ass-kicking can bring you up,” said Belles' jammer Shenita Stretcher. “They're No. 1 in the world right now and it gave us an awesome learning experience. I think we learned a lot from being out there with them and I'm really excited to build on that.”
The No. 1 ranked team played like the No. 1 ranked team on Saturday, giving the Belles an extremely small window of opportunity to score points. After taking the first 30 points of the match, Gotham added huge chunks of points when Philly was vulnerable to penalties and the New York team's defense seemed impenetrable during the few opportunities when roles were reversed.
An 11-3 Belles’ run 12 minutes into the bout provided the first Philly points of the game and cut the lead to 33-11, but Gotham scored the next 78 points to build a 98-point lead with 2:45 left in the half.
The Belles answered with a six-point jam by Shenita Stretcher and an eight-point score by Persephone to enter the locker room on a positive note. But Gotham regrouped and started the second session with a commanding 60-point run and didn't allow a point over the first 12 minutes of the second half.
Gotham was leading by 150 and, at that point, it was all about playing for respect for the proud Philly Roller Girls all-stars. It ended 272-61.
“At one point we thought we could take it,” Shenita said. “Then they put it out of reach pretty quickly. We knew how good they were. They are our big sisters and we look up to these girls. We learn a lot from them.”
Respect was returned by the victors and current rulers of the roller derby universe.
“They play really hard,” said Gotham's Suzy Hotrod, gazing up at the scoreboard after the match. “It doesn't feel like what the score says. It feels a lot harder than that. Every pass out there is hard and they're a really aggressive team. I like that.”
The Belles' Devoida Mercy credited Gotham’s chemistry as a deciding factor.
“The one thing about Gotham is they have played together so long,” Mercy said. “It's second nature to them. They play really well together.”
She said the Belles had opportunities, but the bigger, stronger New Yorkers were able to answer each Philly surge.
“When we put up a few points, they did come unglued a little bit,” Mercy said. “They had to play a little different but they were pretty good at adjusting to what we were doing.”
The hundreds of fans that hoped to see a national upset were treated to a trending story of local dominance during the second half of the double header.
Britches (in blue) Olivia Face #668 and Deb, Seriously #9 get ready to smash Hookers' jammer, co captain, Miss Fortune #99 before she can break out of the pack.
The Heavy Metal Hookers continued their storybook season with a convincing 182-94 win over the Warrior Cup defending champion Philthy Britches.
It was the second straight win for the upstart Hookers who had won just once in league play before this season. It didn’t take long, however, for a winning attitude to become infectious in the Hookers' locker room.
“We've always had a really good attitude even though the Hookers have been used to losing in years past,” said co-captain Miss Fortune. “We've always been in good spirits, but we've just always fallen apart.”
The Hookers have shown no such signs of crumbling this season with a win over the Broad Street Butchers last month, followed by Saturday's triumph over the Britches. The Hookers were fueled by big early jams by V-Diva and Wendy Whiplash, who showed little signs of fatigue despite skating for the Belles earlier in the day. The Hookers led, 71-12 midway through the first half before Olivia Face stopped the bleeding with a nine-point jam. The Hookers retaliated with a 24 point run of their own before Savidge Booty put 20 on the board for the Britches. Despite the Britches' late rally, they trailed, 105-42 at halftime.
“We really wanted it today,” said Hookers' rookie Masten, who received MVP honors in the bout. “We're all really clicking together and we're working our asses off.”
The Britches opened the second half with a 10 point score but the Hookers followed with three straight jams and upped their lead to 126-58. The Britches answered with a 25-point run to close the gap to 56 points with 10 minutes left. They rallied again on an 18-point jam by Long Jawn with five minutes to go, to close the lead to 143-94, but the Hookers landed the final punch, scoring the final 39 points.
“Honestly, I thought we played pretty well,” said Britches co-captain Belle Diablo. “We need to work on our teamwork a little more. No team ever wins without teamwork.”
The Hookers are 2-0 in league play (2-1 overall) and are currently frontrunners for the Warrior Cup — a prize they have never won. Miss Fortune said she wasn’t too surprised that the Hookers are now in prime position.
“We got a lot of fantastic players in the draft,” Fortune said. “Before the draft, we got together and said who would be a good fit and we got them all. We stress teamwork and trust and right now, it’s working.”
The Britches fell to 0-2 on the season and will have the toughest task to climb back into contention. Britches co-captain Castro promised the Britches would be back on top soon.
“Other teams are pretty happy we are losing right now,” she said. “It will only be for another five minutes so they better get it in while they can.”