SANTA CRUZ, CA >> The Santa Cruz Derby Girls opened their 2017 season in a thrilling match, prevailing 200-138 over Bay Area Derby’s Berkeley Resistance at the Civic Auditorium on Saturday night.
The last time Santa Cruz’s All-Stars, the Boardwalk Bombshells faced off with the Resistance was in 2015, losing 150-196.
It was a rough start for the Bombshells in the very first jam. Resistance blockers managed to kill a jammer penalty and send two Bombshell blockers to the box, racking up a quick 10-point lead.
The Bombshells showed their resilience and took the lead in jam No. 4 when Yeti or Not Here I Come (Aylin Woodward), in her Santa Cruz Derby Girls debut, put the Bombshells ahead 18-12.
“It was the coolest feeling playing at the Civic Auditorium in front of these awesome Santa Cruz fans. It’s a feeling I’ve never had before!” said Woodward, a new transfer to the league from New Hampshire. “I’m so excited to be part of this team and city where everyone supports roller derby.”
The Bombshells took advantage of the momentum and slowly chipped away to open up the lead, and a power jam opportunity for Yeti allowed Bombshell blockers to capitalize, bringing the score up 55-25. The Resistance made some changes in their jammer rotation, successfully closing the gap and looking like the Resistance was about to make a comeback. However, the solid blocking of Shamrock N. Roller (Regan Eyman) at the front of the pack with the help of Weezy (Andrea Lilly), Chelsea Smile (Sabi Kendrick), Jem Jones (Jaime Shirley) and Ace Wenchura (Claire McCoy) squashed the Resistance momentum and went into halftime in the lead, 101-67.
With strong blocking and the quick feet of jammers, the Bombshells continued to keep the Resistance at bay in the second half, increasing the lead to 60 points. Resistance jammers suffered a total of nine penalties while the Bombshells had three jammer penalties.
“We are so fortunate to have so many versatile players, who allow us to make changes we need in a game to adapt to our opponents. I am proud of how well our team played tonight,” said Valerie Andromacha-Atha, who skates as Valcohol. “This first game gave us a chance to see what we need to do to improve for our first tournament of the season next month.”
The Santa Cruz Derby Girls are currently ranked No. 23 (Division 1) in the world by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) — the highest ranking the team has held in any season.
This year, for the first time ever, Santa Cruz will face Philly Roller Derby from Philadelphia, Kallio Rolling Rainbow from Helsinki, Finland, and Bay Area Derby’s All-Star team.
Teams compete throughout the season to increase rankings for a spot in the WFTDA Championship every fall, which brings together the highest ranking roller derby leagues in the U.S. and abroad to win the sport’s highest honors.
The Bombshells play again at the Civic Auditorium on May 13 against the Beach Cities Roller Derby Riptide Rollers.
**Article by Eileen Hill as printed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel**
**Photo Credit: Mark Nockleby ©2017**