About a thousand fans walked through the gates at the University of Pennsylvania's Class of 1923 Arena on Saturday to witness the Butchers stake an early claim to the 2012 Warrior Cup by knocking off the defending Britches by a 213-87 score.
“We were really pumped and really played together,” said Butchers' new co-captain Eileen U. Scream. “We sensed we had some unity before the match and we had a lot of faith in ourselves.”
It showed on the flat track as the Butchers raced out to a 118-50 halftime lead and never looked back. In beating the Britches, the Butchers proved they are back in stride for contending for the top spot in the league.
“It's a great start,” said Butchers' Devoida Mercy who took MVP honors in the bout. “But you can never relax on them. We were ahead at halftime but 30 minutes is a long time. It's like a whole new game.”
In the second half, the Butchers continued their dominance by reeling off a 25-8 run to begin the second stanza. The Britches countered with the next 10 points before the Butchers buried the contest with 27 of the next 32 points. It was then obvious that the Britches will have their work cut out for them if they plan to regain their swagger and defend the 2011 crown.
“It's a good experience for us,” said Britches captain Castro. “We haven't trailed by a deficit like that before. It was good to get some new talent out there because to keep running Belles out there wouldn't be very productive for anyone.”
Castro said some good signs began to show in the second half despite the lopsided score.
“Score aside, the second half had some really good things,” she said. “There was some good aggression and we look forward to playing them again.”
In the opening bout of the evening, the Heavy Metal Hookers scrapped hard, but were unable to pull out a victory over visiting Queens of Pain from Queens, New York.
The New York squad, which is associated with national powerhouse Gotham Girls Roller Derby, triumphed with a 198-91 victory over the Hookers.
The Hookers trailed 107-43 at halftime, and despite a gritty second half, were unable to break through the Queens' solid blocking.
“They were tough,” Hookers co-captain Goldy said. “Their walls were solid and their jammers were able to break through our blocking a lot easier than we could get through theirs.”
The Queens' second half lead ballooned to 132-44 before Goldy led a charge to knock nine points off the deficit. But the Queens answered quickly and spiked the lead back up to 90 before the Hookers' next significant run. By then, the match was decided, putting a damper on an MVP performance from Hookers' Copper Top.
“We may not have won but we played with a lot of intensity,” Goldy said. “We played like it was never going to end.”
Hookers co captain Miss Fortune said she wasn't disappointed with her team's performance.
“A couple of jammers like myself got in some penalty trouble early and everyone else really stepped it up,” Miss Fortune said. “Overall I'm pretty happy. We kept fighting.”
It was Miss Fortune's first game back after missing the last two seasons to injuries.
“It felt great to be back,” she said. “I was a little nervous at first because it's been so long but I was happy to be back out there.”
Fortune's return to the lineup was just one instance of a number of new faces in the Hookers' lineup. Seven other players made their debut for the green and black.
“We have to work on teamwork a little more in practice,” Goldy said immediately after the match. “We just spoke about it in the locker room because we have a lot of new skaters. It's a matter of learning to trust each other.”