A flat-track derby streak and status is simultaneously on the line this weekend for the primary travel squad of the Arch Rival Roller Girls of St. Louis.
ARRG, currently ranked #21 internationally by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), hosts #33 Mad Rollin’ Dolls of Madison, WI this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. The twin-bill of derby action, which includes a B-team contest between the two leagues, takes place at Midwest Sport Hockey in Queeny Park (570 Weidman Rd., Ballwin, MO.)
Since moving to the West County facility three years ago, the team has never lost a home bout against a visiting league. Its 13-0 local record includes a 131-121 victory over MRD’s Dairyland Dolls in March 2012.
Arch Rival looks to maintain both its home-track dominance and current WFTDA rank with a 2014 roster that contains a healthy amount of fresh faces in the mix.
Due to retirements, transfers and internal adjustments, ARRG’s line-up is almost 50% different compared to the squad that competed at last season’s WFTDA playoff round.
But even with the turnover in personnel, the team still possesses plenty of firepower that can propel the team to success this Saturday.
“We do not view this as a ‘rebuilding’ season, even though we have a very new team,” said Arch Rival co-captain Mayor Francis Slayer. “Our goal is still to win every game we play and earn a strong seed at playoffs. Winning against Madison will be a great sign that this is an attainable goal.”
ARRG (0-1) was handed a 171-98 road loss by #8 Windy City in Chicago three weekends ago. Despite the defeat, those in attendance will admit that the St. Louisans played very solid against the perennial WFTDA powerhouse. Penalties were down compared to past team outputs and game play trended upward.
“The team as a whole was really excited about our performance,” said Slayer. “That game demonstrated that even though we have a very new team, our teamwork and execution of strategy is on the right track for a successful season.”
“I was blown away by the way we were able to form and maintain strong walls,” adds ARRG co-captain Brickyard. “The intensity and teamwork our blockers portrayed throughout the bout was amazing.”
She’s more than aware of her blocking sistren as they helped her collect over 30 points against a stubborn Windy City defense. She’ll be joined in the jamming rotation Saturday by veteran Mighty Mighty Boston and All-Star addition Annie Swanson (IDA the Living Dead.)
Blocking will be paced by Slayer and returning starters Shimmy Hoffa, Emily Rinehart (Rhino-Might) and Kayla Seiber (Tupac Shank-Her.) Arch Rival veterans Downtown Dallis, Eli Wallop, Party Foul and Chokehold Chanel return after sabbaticals, A-team newcomers Girl Fawkes, Shear Ra-Powers, Cloak-N-DragHer are expected to make an impact, and travel team sophomores The Ginger Assassin and Vanessa Tutka (Prof. Rumbledore) look to compliment.
The balance of new and returning talent to the Arch Rival roll call has immediately caught the attention of the co-captains.
“Although I feel like everyone has really stepped up to fill spots on the All-Star roster, I have been extremely impressed with both IDA and Tupac,” said Brickyard. “They have both been working extremely hard at practice and have been giving us great performances during bouts.”
“And it’s exciting to have Party Foul and Dallis back on the team this season,” adds Slayer. “Believe it or not, we feel confident that the 2014 roster might be the strongest we have seen.”
ARRG will have to be at its collective best against the Madison squad that almost snapped the home streak two years ago but fell by ten points in St. Louis’ come-from-behind victory.
“I remember it being a tough, hard-fought game by both teams,” reflected Dairyland Dolls’ co-captain Hello, Sailor. “The loss was a bummer, but we were able to even the score and get redemption.”
Indeed, Madison got the last laugh in 2012 as they upended Arch Rival, 217-119, in the seventh place bout of the WFTDA North Central Playoffs in Niagara Falls, NY.
In other words, Saturday’s visitors know full well how to hand Arch Rival a setback.
The Dairyland Dolls (1-1) held steady at #33 in Wednesday’s updated WFTDA rankings and began its 2014 season with a 194-122 thumping of #64 Brewcity in February.
“It always feels great to win against Brewcity because they are our sister league,” said Sailor. “The DDs played smart and calm, focused on playing with each other and on our strategy rather than letting things get to us.”
The 72-point duke kept its historical record against the Bruisers from Milwaukee perfect at 7-0.
“It was nice to continue our undefeated streak against them,” Sailor said. “We also figured out opportunities for development that we need to work on, and that’s something that is always super important to identify to grow and evolve as a team.”
Madison was stumped by #25 Jacksonville, 237-105, this past Sunday but continued its upward trend with solid efforts.
“The team is really coming together,” assessed Sailor. “On the track, it’s been great to have Lips Macker block and find her fit in our packs and to have Sequin Destroyher and Splatter Alice jam with a lot of power and heart for the charter.”
Veterans Mack the Knife and Tango de Muerte, both MRD first-time captains, are effectively providing the leadership off the track, according to Sailor.
Familiar faces permeate the charter, including jammers Mouse and Magic Missile alongside blockers Allie Gator, Hazed and Contused, Gene Lane and Darling Nikki.
“MRD is a great, established team that has always been impressive,” said Arch Rival’s Slayer.
There’s also incentive for Madison in its current placement in the WFTDA rankings. Even if they suffer a setback Saturday, the Dairyland Dolls want to keep the differential tight against the St. Louis league that’s currently a dozen positions higher. Keeping pace will potentially keep “the milk wagon” rolling upward.
“It is important to do well against Arch,” said Sailor. “They’re ranked higher than us, so it’s a chance to get some points and potentially move up. A win would get us back on track after our loss to Jacksonville.”
Historically between the two leagues, Madison leads the series 2-1. According to Sailor, the Dolls anticipate another high-impact match-up this weekend.
“It’ll be exciting to play in St. Louis again and to play against some strong skaters,” she says. “I feel it is going to be a good match-up.”
In the end for Arch Rival, they have a collective blueprint in place for Saturday. Perhaps keeping with league colors, it’s more of a “pink and black” print. Regardless, the quad-skated architects don’t plan on the pre-disposed “R” branding them this season. An outright victory is the missive.
“After seeing how well we’ve been playing together, I think we should throw the term ‘rebuild’ away,” said Brickyard. “An ARRG win over Madison would not only give us a positive mental boost, but would also show the WFTDA world that we plan to make major waves this year.”
The derby double header also features a B-team nightcap as ARRG’s Saint Lunachix (0-1) face MRD’s B-team, who is currently undefeated.
For more information on the Arch Rival Roller Girls, which includes a link to discounted tickets to this event, go to archrivalrollergirls.com.