SANTA CRUZ >> The Santa Cruz Derby Girls went through some extensive changes during the offseason by adding a trio of new, elite teams made up of top-notch players from throughout the league.
In the end, it came down to the Redwood Rebels and the Steamer Janes squaring off in Saturday night’s Home Team Championship at the Civic Auditorium in Santa Cruz.
The teams may have been new but the faces and intensity was still the same as the Janes defeated the Rebels, 185-146, in the league’s first-ever title match. Krista Corwin, who skates under the name Skirt Vonna-Gut, helped lead her team to its first championship run.
“It feels great, let me collect my words,” Corwin said after Saturday’s title win. “I’m really proud of this league because Home Teams was sort of an experiment and I think it turned out amazingly awesome.”
Corwin said that although most of the players know each other rather well, it was still a competitive season between the Janes and the Rebels.
The league went through a major facelift before the start of the season, taking skaters from its A, B and C teams to create three evenly matched squads. The Rebels and Janes played in Saturday’s championship bout, while the third team in the league, the Organic Panic, finished 0-4 in its inaugural season.
The Janes were riding high on a three-match winning streak coming into the championship, while the Rebels saw their winning streak of three disappear to the same Janes team in a 187-128 loss in May.
“We’ve gotten a chance to study them,” Corwin said. “The Rebels always bring it on game day, so what’s interesting is when we scrimmage them we learn a certain style. But when they come to game day they always give it 100 percent.”
Corwin finished with a total of four grand slams on Saturday, including two straight early in the bout that gave the Janes an early 19-16 lead. Frisky Bisquits went on to add another grand slam with less than 20 minutes in the first half to extend the lead to 39-24.
“The blockers on the Janes are super-strong on offense,” Corwin said. “So mostly I focused on pushing Rebels up the middle. But also the Rebels have this really unmovable force. They’re difficult to move, so instead of just pushing up the middle I’ve been trying to juke a little bit more, use my shoulders to push them out of the way a little bit more.”
The Rebels had trouble keeping players out of the penalty box and it resulted in a scoreless drought that allowed the Janes to take a 30 point lead, 56-26. Corwin and the Janes had a commanding 109-50 halftime lead as they took advantage of 5-on-3 matchups in the first half.
“There were just some mistakes,” said Rebels captain Eileen Hill, who skates under the name Sharon D. Pain. “The other team was really skilled, pulling cuts on us where they would hit us out and cut them and get a penalty. It was hard because we weren’t playing clean; I think some skaters were being a little sloppy.”
Hill and the rest of the Rebels almost made a comeback as Cashmere scored five points on a grand slam and another four points to make it 153-103 with less than 10 minutes to go in the bout.
“Our coach really talked to us at halftime and really fired us up,” Hill said. “We knew they had a big lead but it was just still a couple of power jams away of coming back. We really wanted to try to pretend the score was zero to zero and get back into it.”
Hill added they made some changes in the lineup and worked on staying on the track instead of the penalty box. But the Janes were too much to overcome as Corwin and the rest of her teammates regained composure.
Corwin said they were experimenting with some new lineups as well and were trying some new things on the track, but the team realized after the Rebels were within reach they had to buckle down and go back to its original style of play.
“It was fun, and then we decided to put it back to our old strategy so that we could cinch the lead,” Corwin said.
**Article by Juan Reyes as printed in the Santa Cruz Sentinel**
**Photo Credit: DPO Photography ©2015**