Don’t tell me that the only good Roller Derby happens between Top 5 competitors. Don’t tell that to the ladies of Mason Dixon and Mother State either.
Sunday night, at Turner’s Skate Palace of Hagerstown, Maryland, the Mason Dixon Roller Vixens faced off in their second home bout of the season against Mother State Roller Derby of Richmond, Virginia. This is the second time that these two teams have faced off against each other, and Mason Dixon was looking for a bit of redemption having lost to MSRD last season.
A little bit of back story… Mother State Roller Derby was founded in 2010, it is a league that splintered off of the WFTDA league, River City Roller Derby. The ladies and coaching staff of MSRD take an approach to derby that adheres to a more traditionally athletic viewpoint. They use real names, and the match pretty impeccably in their uniforms, ideals, and work ethic. Just watching a warm up by this team, an outsider understands that they are a force to be reckoned with. They walked into Turner’s with only eight skaters (they had rostered nine, but one was missing), and an un-erring confidence. I made the remark that it is more intimidating to see a team of eight fully confident skaters ready for warm up, than a full team of 14 that is not fully coordinated.
Mason Dixon is a good team, I have skated with them and against them. I have seen them play several very good teams over the past two years. I knew that this was going to be an excellent game, though at first I was not sure how MDRV would do without vets like Bite Sized Bruiser and Poison Princess, plus they were debuting a new skater: Babyface Bandit.
My fears were erroneous.
From the first whistle, you could see that Mother State was not going to let their lack of numbers effect the intensity of their game play. They were not concerned with wearing themselves out too quickly. MDRV and MSRD traded lead jammer back and forth for the first several jams, with neither one ever coming out more than a few points on top. Strong blockers in the back for MDRV and excellent jammer decisions on both sides kept the point spread close for the whole game. So did the major penalties. Both teams seemed be plagued by a case of jammer back-blocks and cut tracks which kept some jams in a constant rotation of jammers in and out of the box!
In the first half, MDRV was never able to capture a lead greater than 20 points. MSRD’s #32 Casey Bianco was a force to be reckoned with on the jam line; though the pairing of #22 Lucretia McEvil and #12 Liz Dexic contained the MSRD jammers most of the time. Meanwhile, rookie #709, Babyface Bandit, continually hopped, slid, and ducked her way to lead jammer and grand slams. Every jam was a table turner, every start was a possible lead change.
Thanks to power jams by #75 Lisa Kincade and #13 Nikki Tower, MSRD was able to close the gap with about 8 minutes left in the fisrt half. Mason Dixon had been very strong in the first fifteen minutes, switching between offense and defense effectively, while dominating the inside line. However, as the first half proceeded, the strong walls at the front of the pack, and the steam picked up by MSRD kept thwarting Mason Dixon jammers. #55 Morgan Hanson gave Mason Dixon a particularly hard time.
For the last five jams, you could see the Mason Dixon blockers begin to panic a little bit. Pack cohesion lessened, and previously strong teams of blockers broke their own walls and tried to operate on their own. It allowed the nimble MSRD jammers slip to a lead at the half of 83 - 80.
The second half proved to be an even tighter game than the first half. By now, MSRD had settled into a rhythm and skaters like Towner and #31 Lis Macrum were making strong hits and big holes. It took a few jams for Mason Dixon to find their rhythm again, calming down enough to counter the sheer athleticism of Mother State. Despite a deficit, they got their plans back together.
#2113 Slambellina continued a strong record of achieving lead jammer, while #5366 Hatchetface was putting a hurt on anyone wearing an MSRD jersey. It was great watching Slambelinna and Bandit taking on Kincade and Bianco - you just didn’t know how things were going to turn out when any of these athletes put on the star. (Though Biano and Kincade were not afraid to bash up some girls as pack players when not jamming.)
As the second half proceeded, plagued by major penalties and the confusing dances of jammers going to and from the box, MDRV nicked away at Mother State’s lead. #6 Hittsburgh made sure her presence was known to the Mother State blockers, while #242 Rebel Rose and #BR33 Paisley Painbow were also making things happen within the pack. MDRV was able to take advantage of a few power jams. Slambellina obtained a 22 point jam thanks to a stop game to rival Denver, and extreme control of a Mother State blocker by Captain McEvil.
It eventually evened out to 143 - 143, with no more than 3 jams possible. They only got in two.
I must be honest, in the two jams leading up to this tie, I was paying less attention to exactly who was doing what, I also couldn’t tell you what the score was going into the last jam. I know the score was separated by 4 points. I also know that there was a blur of knock-you-off-your-feet hits on both sides (I almost got run into by 2 MDRV girls and a Mother State player who took a two knee fall and slid for a quarter mile), and jammers skating harder than I thought possible after a game that intense.
The last jam was a poor time for Mother State to let up on their rock-strong defense in the front of the pack, but that is exactly what happened. At the whistle, MSRD went all offense, forgetting the inside line, and letting MDRV’s jammer slip through almost undetected. In the final jam, though Mother State was able to pick up a few points, the final jam went strongly in favor of Mason Dixon; they squeezed out a final of 173 to 155.
This recap has not done justice to the effort of both teams, the skill on the track, the control and power of all players, and the general electricity felt through the crowd as the lead changes took place every few jams in the second half. Thank you to Mason Dixon Roller Vixens and Mother State Roller Derby for showing the crowd once again that you don’t have to be from New York City to put on a good show!
Check out both these teams!