Saturday night saw a rematch between the two teams who played for third at the end of 2015. Last October, the Richmond Wrecking Belles won the battle for third despite the San Francisco ShEvil Dead coming in with a victory in their previous meeting in August. Fans of both teams knew this game could go either way. Though Richmond won in their last match-up, the Belles were coming into the game with a very short roster of 11 skaters with ShEvil determined to reclaim a victory.
As expected, the game started with an intense and contentious shift. Richmond jammer #20 Eva Menace nabbed lead in the first jam but was sent to the box during her scoring pass which allowed ShEvil’s jammer, #212 Xpress Lane Jane, to pick up some points as well. At the end of the first two minutes, the score was 14 – 10 in Richmond’s favor. In the next jam, #22 Jirsa attempted to drive up the score for Richmond and was awarded 15 points. Meanwhile, ShEvil pivot, #29 Spiller, received a star pass from #89 Mean Burrito and was able to pick up 9 points of her own, putting the score at 29 – 19 Richmond. After an exciting and close start, Richmond took control in the third jam and didn’t look back. Over the next twelve jams, Richmond was awarded lead jammer status ten times which allowed them to steadily put up points and keep ShEvil to just 7 points by strategically calling off jams. In the fourteenth jam, Jirsa put her team solidly in the lead by scoring 19 unanswered points in a power jam against Mean Burrito, putting the score at 81 – 27. But the Zombies would not be thwarted so easily. ShEvil retaliated by tightening their defense and received an offensive boost of their own when #61 Pressure Cooker scored 13 points in one jam. At halftime, the score stood at 108 – 60 with Richmond in the lead.
The second half started just like the first with both teams scoring at a similar pace. In the first five jams, Richmond managed to score 10 points while ShEvil picked up 9, which did little to change the score differential. Although Pressure Cooker had another 13 point jam, Richmond jammers #11 Lex Pistol and #925 Sterling Archer both had a couple of multiple scoring pass jams, padding their lead at 172 – 98. A little more than halfway through the second period, Richmond ran into some penalty trouble when Sterling Archer received three penalties as a jammer, which spanned a period of two jams and resulted in her fouling out of the game. Here, ShEvil pulled out all the stops and made a valiant effort to close the point spread. However, Richmond’s formidable defense forced a jammer cut on Pressure Cooker, and after returning to the track, she passed the star to pivot Sweet Sherry Pie who picked up four points. The next jam began with a power start for Gori Spelling, who took the opportunity to rack up a grand slam. As time ran down on the game clock, Richmond claimed the win with a score of 181 – 115.
The highest scoring jammer by far for ShEvil was All-Stars team member Pressure Cooker. With 60 points, she scored more than half the total points for her team. Xpress Lane Jane was the second highest ShEvil scorer with 23 points in thirteen jams.
Richmond employed an interesting tactic for this game by rostering two hybrid players who split jamming duties between the halves. For the first half, blocker Jirsa wore the star and in the second half she switched places with Sterling Archer. Jirsa scored 48 points in seven jams, making her the highest point scorer for Richmond. Eva Menace was the second highest scoring jammer with 46 points in 13 jams.
Richmond’s win was decided by their overwhelming lead jammer percentage. ShEvil combated this by frequently passing the star, which they did seven times compared to Richmond’s two times. ShEvil struggled initially with penalties. In the first half, they were boxed 21 times but they cleaned up considerably in the second half of the game with just 14 penalties. Richmond’s penalties were consistent throughout the game with 13 in the first half and 15 in the second. With both teams having the same number of jammer penalties, the game really came down to the ability to rack up points slowly with consistent lead jammer calls and smart, timely call-offs.
Both teams are slated to play in the next double header on July 23, just weeks after this battle. ShEvil will take on the reigning 2015 BAD Champions, the Berkeley Resistance, and Richmond will play their longtime rivals, the Oakland Outlaws.