by Thomas Gerbasi
For the home teams of the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league, it’s a whole new world after the Manhattan Mayhem’s 192-187 victory over the Queens of Pain at John Jay College on June 11. Expected by many to pick up their second win of the season and sail into an August championship showdown with the unbeaten defending champions from Brooklyn, Queens instead met a team unwilling to see their dreams of a title end in June.
Now it’s all down to this Saturday’s Coney Island doubleheader to determine which teams move on to the title bout and which start focusing on next season. And Manhattan (1-1) and Queens (1-1) are both eager to get a win and make a statement.
“I can't wait to play against Gridlock,” said Manhattan’s Em Dash of her squad’s showdown with the 0-2 Gridlock. “They're a team of really excellent skaters, many of whom are taller and bigger than my teammates, so it's always a really intensely physical game. That said, our jammers are used to being beaten up. Mayhem beats up our jammers every Sunday, and not a lot of people hit harder than Bonita, Violet, Sunny, and Roxy. And as you might have noticed, Cork Rebel was back on skates (on June 11), so with any luck we'll have our full team for the July 16 bout as well. It feels so much better to have our whole team skating.”
“The team is looking forward to skating against Brooklyn,” Queens jammer Shortstop said. “They beat us twice last year so we are looking to change that this time around. The game against Mayhem has made us even more hungry to take a win.”
Despite losing last season’s championship game to the Bombshells, Queens have been one of the most dominant teams in the league for a long time, and their season opening win over the Bronx only cemented that reputation. But the Mayhem, which lost a three-point heartbreaker to Brooklyn in their first bout of 2016, were ready for the challenge, with team MVP Dash thrilled about her squad’s performance.
“We played a calm, happy game and exhibited great teamwork,” she said. “Our jammers stayed focused and used incredible footwork to zip through tiny holes in Queens' defense. Overall, our team played one of the cleanest games I can remember; it's easier to play well when you have a full pack and a jammer on the track.”
And while a small difference of five jammer box trips to Queens’ seven, and 35 penalty box minutes to their opponent’s 42 may not sound like much, in a close game, it can speak volumes.
“I don't believe anything went wrong against Mayhem, but our penalty times are something we can improve for our Brooklyn game,” Shortstop said.
Nip and tuck throughout, both teams let their offenses do the talking, leading to the highest scoring bout of the year thus far, with Queens MVP Shortstop leading the way with 102 points and Bruzin Brody putting up 63 points on the board.
The veteran Dash, who is approaching the one-year anniversary of the publication of Derby Life, a book readers have come to consider the flat track derby bible, chipped in 57 points, and she makes no bones about it – a high-scoring game is a lot more fun for the fans and the jammers.
“I cut my teeth on a version of derby that was a lot faster and more chaotic than the current version, so I love a fast pack and a bit of offense,” she said. “Juking around a talented blocker is one of the best feelings in the world.”
Appropriately, it was Dash who was on the track for two pivotal jams in the second half, first scoring 14 points to turn a seven-point Queens lead into a seven-point advantage for her squad.
Then three jams later, Dash added 25 points in a single jam that put Manhattan up 148-121. Shortstop and Suzy Hotrod made a late surge for the ladies in black, but came up five points short, setting the stage for a photo finish in one of the most interesting seasons in GGRD history.
QUEENS vs. MANHATTAN STATS
1 2 F
Queens 82 105 187
Manhattan 91 101 192
Queens MVP – Shortstop
Manhattan MVP – Em Dash
Leading Queens Scorers
Shortstop – 102 points (21 jams)
Suzy Hotrod – 60 points (16 jams)
Kitty Roadkill – 14 points (7 jams)
Leading Queens Blockers
Puss ‘n Glutes – 31 jams (+34)
Livvie Smalls – 29 jams (-24)
Chopstick Murphy – 26 jams (-14)
Leading Manhattan Scorers
Bruzin Brody – 63 points (14 jams)
Em Dash – 57 points (13 jams)
J Rod – 46 points (14 jams)
Tickets for the 7/16 doubleheader in Coney Island are available here.