Coming off a major road win last week at Cincinnati, the Fort Wayne Derby Girls came home to play the Downriver Doll Stars from Woodhaven, Mich. at Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. Ranked No. 101 in the world in the latest rankings, the Fort Wayne Bomb Squad improved to 3-1 with a 292-105 win
Downriver took the lead but Fort Wayne caught up within the first 5 minutes. The score stayed relatively tight but the Derby Girls slowly increased their lead. Ashley Fish brought the score to 40-15 in a five-point Jam.
In a huge point increase, Downriver raised their score by 17 points in a single play to bring the score to 46-32 during Jam 8, but this close score did not last for long. Fort Wayne doubled their lead over Downriver in the next play, bringing the score to 66-32. There were big hits from both sides. Maddi Yoder took out several Downriver skaters allowing Fort Wayne to take lead Jammer. Strong defensive lines managed to hold back offensive skaters for half- to three-quarters of the track. Woodhaven held Tracie McBride back until Turn 3 and scored four points before calling off the play in Jam 12.
An impressive play in the next jam saw Downriver manage to get lead Jammer with only one blocker on the track before two Downriver skaters serving penalties returned to the track. Again, Yoder and Jodi Wood Chambers formed a strong blocking pair, working together to stop offensive skaters and push blockers out of the way to allow the Fort Wayne skaters to pass.
The Derby Girls continued to hold with lead and maintain a 2-1 point ratio. Their score became double that of Downriver with one minute left in the first half, 114-52. But there was time for one more Jam, and Fort Wayne put in all three of its former junior skaters — Ashley Crager, Maddi Yoder and Jessica Green. These skaters are normally on a different rotation so it was a rare sight.
After the half, Woodhaven was fast off the block but could not make it through the Fort Wayne defensive line. Downriver was able to achieve lead jammer status in over half of the plays, but gaining lead Jammer status does not equal additional points as passing opposing skaters increases team score.
Fast packs can be seen as Downriver attempted to outrace Fort Wayne skaters. Fast packs can be a disadvantage to both teams as all skaters' endurance diminishes. Fort Wayne's high endurance could be seen in their repeat Jammers — McBride and Fish. Downriver did manage to hold Fort Wayne to a no-scoring pass part way through the half, although only scoring one point themselves.
Fatigue could begin to be seen in Downriver skaters. During several plays, skaters attempted to pass to teammates but failed to complete the play. Some strong blocking from Kellie Adkins averted several of these plays. Strong skating continued for Fort Wayne as they increased their score to 223 points while holding their opponents at 73.
Both teams attempted to not give any points away. Very small score increases were seen as both teams called off the play as soon as the opposing skater approached. Several plays saw only one or two points per play. Downriver successfully held Fort Wayne within a point or two throughout the remaining plays. They even kept McBride from scoring any points in a play where Downriver scored two. This continued until there were only six minutes left in the game with the score 225-93.
Tensions rose in the final minutes of the game. A Downriver skater was tackled and possibly injured, pausing the game for several minutes. High contact and rough blocking escalated in the final five minutes.
Entering the final Jam, with under one minute left, the crowd was standing and roaring. Fort Wayne made three scoring passes before the game was called due to time.
Fort Wayne's next home game is at 6 p.m., April 29.