With the WFTDA playoffs in their sights for the first time in three years, the Cincinnati Rollergirls are gearing up to take on Minneapolis’s North Star Roller Girls in CRG’s second-to-last home game of 2016 on Saturday, May 21 – Armed Forces Night – at the Cincinnati Gardens. Tank sets the stage for the matchup.
In the world of sports, there’s a game every season when your team encounters a real test. It’s not a first game of the season. It’s not a tune up game. It’s not a friendly or a scrimmage. It’s a test. A game where you’re matched up against another team that, on paper, you’re not supposed to beat. By the numbers, the other team is better on every level, and it’s been a long time since you actually gave them a real game.
That game for the Cincinnati Rollergirls’ Black Sheep happened on April 30, 2016. Going into last month’s bout against the Naptown Tornado Sirens, there were a lot of questions about how good this Black Sheep team actually was. At the end of the first half they led the 25th-ranked WFTDA team on the planet by a score of 91-74. The Sheep ultimately lost the game 140-170, but they made the statement that this CRG team is headed in one direction: straight up the in the rankings.
The Sheep are currently ranked as the 59th-best WFTDA team on the planet, which means that if WFTDA were to send playoffs invites today, the Sheep would get one to the Division 2 tournament. So the odds are in their favor this Saturday night, when they take on the 75th-ranked North Star Roller Girls of Minneapolis, Minnesota at the historic Cincinnati Gardens.
I love the offensive firepower this Sheep have this year. Jas Hubbard has become an unstoppable force of nature this year, as she is constantly looking for any excuse she can find to bury her shoulder into an opposing player’s sternum. Her strength is incredibly deceptive and she can easily gore through anyone who stands in her path.
Wheezy and Royal T continue to work on their finesse game as I recently saw in a video of them running and jumping on their toe stops during practice. It was like watching Spider-Man jump and swing through Manhattan. Both of them also have the ability to squeeze through the smallest spaces imaginable and then immediately kick on the afterburners to rocket out of a pack.
On a team of big-name stars, Kitten Kicker has carved out a spot for herself as an incredibly important cog in the CRG blocking machine this season. Kitten is constantly looking for walls and tripods to insert herself into and never shies away from contact. I’ve watched this young woman skate since her first game and I am very excited for her future as she starts to hit her prime. The same can be said of I, Caramba!, who always knows where she should be at any given time. She is constantly in the trenches either forming walls with her teammates or moving opposing players out of position so that they cannot make a play on her jammer.
Speaking of important blockers, let’s talk about Anne Bones, who has really flourished this year as a pivot. It is the perfect position for her with her past jamming experience and her ability to get wide and take up a lot of real estate on the track with her long legs. This team is really starting to stockpile talent at every position on the floor.
I am very interested to see the Violent Lambs this Saturday night. Last month, the Lambs dropped their biggest game of the season, losing to the Naptown Warning Belles 117-264. Obviously the Belles were the better team that night, but I wonder how the game would’ve played out if the Lambs had put more focus on the fundamentals of pack play.
There were a number of times during this bout where the Lambs only had a simple, single wall without anyone playing as a safety valve at the front of the pack or even on the outside if the Belles’ jammer was to get past their wall. There were multiple times when the Lambs would form tripods to block with but wouldn’t move them to engage jammers. They also allowed the Warning Belles to control the inside line throughout the entire game and sometimes just left it wide open for some inexplicable reason. I hope they have been working on lane discipline in practice before this bout against North Star’s Northern Lights on Saturday night.
This game will be interesting for the Lambs as a third of the roster will also be skating for the Sheep (Chainsaw, I, Caramba!, Poppy Chulo, Ragdoll Ruby and Tru D. Vicious). I like this strategy, as it gives many of these players a chance to take the things they have learned on the A team level and bring it to the B team level to hone those skills.
Sista Shovechild looked comfortable in her new skates (which she has dubbed Purple Reign) in the last game, and I am expecting to see her in top form after having multiple weeks of practice to get even more familiar with them. Cherry Choke was very successful as a jammer in the last game and I wonder if we will see her wearing the star more in this game. Coco is also beginning to show some flashes of promise as a jammer. Finally, I am interested in seeing which pack players step up in this game to take a leadership role on the floor to correct some of these pack issues the Lambs recently experienced.
After what I saw on April 30, I think both the Lambs and the Sheep will have a successful Saturday night. The Lambs have historically been a winning team and I think they will rebound to have a great game against the Northern Lights. The Sheep have proven that they are for real this season, and if they don’t overlook North Star Supernovas and play with the same level of intensity that they have this entire season, then they should win by triple digits.
So come on out this Saturday night and cheer on both teams as they try to sweep the North Star Roller Girls.
Click here for more information about Armed Forces Night.
Cincinnati Black Sheep vs. North Star Supernovas (6 p.m.)
Black Sheep: 77 Anne Bones // 80 Chainsaw // 23 ¡I, Caramba! // 135 Jas Hubbard // 30 Kitten Kicker // 66 La Bruja // 93 Macrum // 86 Nuk’em // 27 Poppy Chulo // 42 Ragdoll Ruby // 533 Royal T // 92 Sailor Scary // 19 Tru D. Vicious // 43 Wheezy // Alternate: 0 Cherry Choke
Supernovas: Cyclone Ally #8 // Gigi Whiz #15 // Ida Kildher #99 // JacKILLope #44 // Juris Prudence #115 // Katarina Hit #1300 // Killroy #622 // Misa Ornery #37 // Pop Roxie #11 // Rosalind Shanklin #12 // rudebarb #314 // Salty Maude #58 // Scarlet Raven #45 // ShE.coli #1057 // Slasha Veinforya #19 // Stabby Kat #245
Cincinnati Violent Lambs vs. North Star Northern Lights (approx 7:45 p.m.)
Violent Lambs: 91 Annie Tomical // 80 Chainsaw // 0 Cherry Choke // 48 Coco // 1138 Darla Vader // 23 ¡I, Caramba! // 41 Karli Hustle // 27 Poppy Chulo // 42 Ragdoll Ruby // 29 RedRum // 18 Scrappy Sue // 2 Sista Shovechild // 50 Sk8 Crime // 19 Tru D. Vicious // Alternate: 93 Macrum
Northern Lights: The Fawkes #763 // Kitinboots #80 // Cyclone Ally #8 // Red Hot Toddy #17 // Kill Valentine #9 // Baller #23 // Rosalind Shanklin #12 // rudebarb #314 // Salty Maude #58 // Juris Prudence #115 // Katarina Hit #1300 // Pop Roxie #11 // Slasha Veinforya #199 // Stabby Kat #245 // Misa Ornery #37 // Killroy #622