By Thomas Gerbasi
First, the Manhattan Mayhem put a dent in Queens’ hopes for a return trip to the Gotham Girls Roller Derby league championship game. Then on July 16 at Abe Stark Arena in Coney Island, the orange-clad ladies put the stamp on their own ticket to the title bout with a 140-119 victory over the Bronx Gridlock.
The win capped off a 2-1 regular season for the Mayhem and sets up a showdown with the defending champs, the Brooklyn Bombshells, for the Golden Skate trophy on August 27 at John Jay College in NYC.
“Brooklyn vs. Manhattan is always a very physical game, but I think that the winner of that game will come down to who wins the mental game, which team remains the most calm,” said Manhattan MVP Veronica Ache. “During the season opener with Brooklyn, our team really struggled with penalties. We have been working throughout the season to clean up our game and stay out of the box. Our last two games, our penalties significantly dropped and no one fouled out during our last game. Hopefully, we can carry that on to the championship bout.”
In that season opener, Brooklyn outlasted the Mayhem 153-148 instant classic. The Bombshells went on to win their next two and wrap up an unbeaten season, while Manhattan was forced into must-wins in their final two bouts. They fulfilled their end of the bargain, with the win over the Gridlock cementing their championship game slot.
“The key to our victory against the Bronx was our ability to focus on playing our game and not be ruffled by their offense,” Ache said. “We knew that the Bronx had been playing a great deal of offense all season long, especially off the line. So, we knew we just had to ignore their offense, step in front of it, give them a little bump back and focus on maintaining our strong four wall to contain their jammers, so that our jammers would have time to work and get free. Also, our chance to go to the championships was on the line during the bout, and I think that drove everyone to push harder and really lock it down.”
Jumping out to a 20-0 lead thanks to Bruzin Brody’s efforts in the first jam of the game, Manhattan soon had to hold off a ferocious charge from the gutsy Gridlock, who were seeking their first win of the year. Kate Sera Sera put the Bronx ahead 33-24, but penalties would eventually allow Manhattan to soar ahead and stay there.
There would be one more big push in the second half, as the Gridlock cut the Mayhem lead to two thanks to a 43-10 run, but Manhattan got back on track and locked things down defensively in order to secure the victory. The loss put the cabbies at 0-3 for the 2016 regular season, but they never stopped fighting.
“Gridlock's biggest takeaway from 2016 is our incredible potential,” said team MVP Fast and Luce. “We have had a taste of the success that comes with teamwork and dedication, and we definitely want more. The fight and heart that was with us every second of the season is exactly the spirit we are ready to lead with moving forward. We are ready to come into our own next season, building upon the solid foundation we have laid down throughout the year. I'm confident when I say we are more unified than ever before, which is going to be a key factor in the Cabbies' rise to power.”
Unlike previous seasons, the teams that didn’t earn a place in the title game will get one more shot in this Saturday’s third-place bout, with the Gridlock facing the Queens of Pain.
“Fans can expect a fast-paced bout with a well-matched defensive performance,” Luce said. “Queens is an excellent opponent, and we look forward to the rematch.” Then three weeks later, it’s another rematch. This one is for all the marbles. Just the way Manhattan likes it.
“I am really glad how it played out,” Ache said. “It feels great to go into the championship bout and have a rematch against Brooklyn.”
MANHATTAN vs. BRONX STATS
Manhattan 83 57 140
Bronx 62 57 119
Manhattan MVP – Veronica Ache
Bronx MVP – Fast and Luce
Leading Manhattan Scorers
Bruzin Brody – 47 points (11 jams)
J Rod – 42 points (12 jams)
Em Dash – 41 points (10 jams)
Leading Manhattan Blockers
Roxy Dallas – 22 jams (+48)
Bonita Apple Bomb – 22 jams (+21)
Sunshine Skate – 21 jams (+19)
Leading Bronx Scorers
Kate Sera Sera – 63 points (10 jams)
Legs / Cite – 21 points (5 jams)
Big Banger – 19 points (10 jams)
Leading Bronx Blockers
Fast and Luce – 19 jams (-33)
Caf Fiend – 19 jams (-34)
Cherry Napalm -17 jams (+11)
1 2 F
Minutes in Box: 34 Jammer Box Trips: 5
Minutes in Box: 46 Jammer Box Trips: 10
Stats compiled via Rinxter