All-Stars played four games in the Big O tournament in Eugene, Oregon in May 5th-7th, and won every single one of them. They belong to the top, that’s for sure! All-Stars wrote a recap and shout outs of the games.
Day 1. Game against Windy City
We left to our first game against Windy City feeling confident and happy since the rankings had been released the previous week and we climbed all the way up to the 16th place. The week and travelling went well (more or less even though some of us enjoyed i.e. Iceland for little bit more than enough because of snow storm and flight delay..) but we started to get anxious to play already – because that’s why we’re here for right!
We had been in many same tournaments with Windy and wanting to play them for a long time. It was nice to finally be able to do that. We had watched them develop and renew their charter to really play high in D1-level again so we were waiting for a tough opponent. And that’s what we got.
Our game started ok, but we took quite many penalties and struggled with the sports court floor a bit. Windy led almost the whole first half of the game, but as we warmed up, started to overcome our troubles, got used to sports court and started to adjust to the fierce game play of Windy, we started to gain the momentum in the last jams. The first period ended just in time us leading with only five points.
The second period we led by an inch the whole time. We played better together but so did they. Eventually the last couple of jams were ours as we got the momentum just in time to score some big points, big jams and then managed to go home with the first win in the tournament! With point differential of 60 points game ended 202-142 for us but Windy definitely showed everybody that their rebuilding phase is long gone and they are strong D1 team you better watch out.
We definitely want to give shout outs to Essi Rönkkö! She did awesome job skating there as blocker and jammer.
Day 2. Game against Sydney Roller Derby
Saturday started bright and shining, even though the weather was on our side. We were lucky not to have the first game of the day, so we got to have nice and peaceful morning with second breakfasts. (As we all know, breakfast is the best part of the day, so why not have two instead of one!).
We were about to face up with an unknown opponent – Sydney Roller Derby League. We did have a few missteps during the Windy game but after going through them together, we were ready to face those fast skating Australians. In the end we managed to stay cool and controlled the game ending up winning with the score 266-162.
Shout outs to the whole team. You could see and feel them grow from day one it was a whole different team on track. Really nice to see more upcoming forces from Oz!
Day 3. Games against 2×4 and Rat City
With a very nice vibes and good feeling we went to this game against South American team 2X4. It was nice to face a team that we had not played against before. We expected hard hitting fast skaters and definitely not an easy game.
2X4 was full of really talented skaters. They looked like they live with their skates on. They were fast and furious. Good recycling with our jammers and amazingly quick and wise star passes. Their fast tempo affected our slow and strong styled game play. It took a while to adjust our game to this type of playing. In the end we were able to pull it together and won the game 213-113.
Shout outs to coach Yago; the way he shines positivity and passion for the sport and his team is unbelievable. Shout outs also to the whole Team of OSOM – they played osom team work and have definitely earned their spot in top 20.
We went to rest and eat. Then it was time for the last day of the event, last game of the day. The wonderful Rat City. At this point we pass the pen to coach Jori. He wrote about our last game.
It was the fourth time we met on track and one after another it has been more enjoyable. Rat City is a smart, strong team with a great coaching staff. Versatile and fast, hard hitting, and they know your game in and out after 10 minutes of play. Such a great team to play.
We had never before beaten them on track. It has been tight at times, but the score never turned to our side in the end, not that close even. Today felt different. Today it felt like all the pieces just clicked to their place.
We started the game with a nice 3 second lead, and kept the jam running. Showing some trust for our blockers earned us a 9-4 start for the game, followed by a 9-0 jam. At this point Rat took a timeout. Usually that is something worrying, knowing Vito and how he reads the game they usually come like a train from timeouts. And they did. A quick lead for Jax, but with a well executed starpass we kept the jam only 3-0.
Next jam was a wrestle. It took almost 90 seconds for the lead but it was in our favour. 5-0 jam. So they got us there for a moment, but one of the biggest reasons this was our game; focused, stand our ground. No matter what they try. We will shut them out.
The game continued a bit on our side. Rat got leads, we got leads. But our offence got our own through pretty quickly so we kept them on one scoring pass most of the time, while getting more ourselves, not letting their O bother us.
Note: Rat City offence is fierce. They have some strong experienced skaters, and sometimes you just don’t see it coming.
Halfway of first half the score was 50-11 for us. Against Rat City this is nothing, but I knew if we kept them at a low score for 1/4 of the game it would be something else than before. We got the momentum, and we have time to adjust if we lose it.
And boy did they turn up a notch for the rest of the half. Both got leads, both scored, but they kept us in low scoring jams when we got leads, while having few big jams themselves. A good fight, half time score 67-53. They were getting closer, but it was our half.
To me, if there is a moment when you need to worry most about Rat City, it’s this. The start of second half. They know everything about you. They have always adjusted in a way that it’s hard to keep up. Fierce.
This time we said no to that. We had our game, and today nothing will stand in our way.
Second half is mostly a blur. I remember moments. I remember Crime City chanting in the audience. I know there were tons of lead changes in the half. I remember Luna Negra having many good jams. Getsome showing us how you can be amazing at everything. I remember looking at Vito and wondering if he still has stuff up his sleeve.
But what I do remember clearly is my team. I remeber the smiles, and the high fives. How everyone was there for everyone. The focus on everyones eyes. How I barely had to talk to my fellow coaches, we just read each others minds. How we loved every second of the game.
The score was close for a long time. No idea how many lead changes, but many. Beyond comfortable.
It took me until the second to last jam for me to understand that we got this. That jam was 24-7 for us. The Rat’s backbone was broken. We are going to the last jam with a 51 point lead and the opposing jammer in the box.
Even at this point all I can see is focus in our skaters eyes. The game was not over yet. We are one jam away from winning.
14 seconds on the game clock, we take lead, we wait for the time to run out, and we call it.
177-126. We did it.
“We f#%*ing did it” was the loop in my head when I fell on my knees and cried.
I just couldn’t believe how that hard work paid off. How we had just won all our games in the tournament. 4-0. Damn.
And I definetly will not forget that taste of happiness when the skaters piled up over me, me crying like a baby on the floor. You guys need to wash your gear!
And oh the shout outs:
Vito; you are the smartest. I hope to meet you on and off track soon. Carmen Getsome; one of my alltime favourite skaters. Any position, any time, any situation, you cover it like a pro. Luna Negra; never give, up never surrender. Your performance on the second half nearly killed us.
Also Crime City; thank you for being there for us, your chanting gave us power!
Helsinki Roller Derby; short but sweet <3
Helsinki All-Stars, coaches & skaters; this weekend shows what we can do. This weekend defines the word TEAM in so many levels. I am so proud of us! I love you fishes, and we sure as hell didn’t come this far to only come this far!
The final scores:
All the photos by awesome Marko Niemelä.
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