CLEVELAND >> The Santa Cruz Derby Girls’ Boardwalk Bombshells — the No. 1 seed at the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association’s 2015 International D-II playoffs — was upset 165-137 by the No. 5 Demolition City Dynamite Dolls of Evansville, Ind., in the semifinals Saturday at the Cleveland Public Auditorium.
The Bombshells face No. 6 Houston Roller Derby for third place on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I am confident in my team’s ability to bounce back from the huge loss we’re feeling today,” said Santa Cruz coach Valerie Andromacha-Atha, whose skating name is Valcohol. “We plan to deliver a severe beating to our opponent to make up for today’s upset.”
Demolition City faces No. 2 Kansas City Roller Warriors in Sunday’s championship. By reaching the Cleveland final, both teams qualified for the 2015 championships on Nov. 6-8 in St. Paul, Minn.
Kansas City beat Houston 249-196 in the other semifinal.
“We will come back together as the strong team we are, to bring home third place for Santa Cruz,” said Santa Cruz captain Regan Eymann, who goes by Shamrock N. Roller. “It’s not what we had come into the weekend aiming for, but we are going to reset our expectations and play our hearts out.”
The game leaned in Demolition City’s favor quickly as they earned the first two lead calls. The first lead call for Santa Cruz came four minutes in, but Demolition City’s jammer forced the call off.
What followed was a series of jammer penalties against Santa Cruz that spurred a flurry of blocker penalties from key players, such as pivot Eymann.
The Dynamite Dolls played solid defense throughout the semifinal, maintaining their formations and reforming quickly when needed.
“We have the utmost respect for Demolition City and the game they brought today. They were fierce on the track and played a great game,” Eymann said.
In need of a spark, Santa Cruz moved Cora Olson, aka CoraZone, into the jammer rotation. Cheri Bell, aka Queen Litigious, finished off the half with the fourth lead status call in a row for Santa Cruz. The Bombshells began a slow climb back, including the last five jams where they had a 16-0 run.
The start of the second half mirrored the first. The jammer penalties continued for Santa Cruz, even when Demolition City left the Bombshells on a power jam. Santa Cruz could not seem to make it through a jam without a penalty.
As Santa Cruz mounted a comeback, a low block called on Olson allowed Demolition City to take an 11-point lead.
Eymann fouled out with 17 seconds to go for a high block, in an attempt to hold back the jammer. With the final two power jams Demolition City pulled away again to end the game.
“Roller derby will challenge you physically, mentally and emotionally,” Eymann said, “and today we were challenged as a team and we put together the best game we could bring to the track.”
**Article by Kristen Garfield as printed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel**