The SoCal Kraken began the 2019 season with five WFTDA sanctioned games played over the course of two tournament weekends: Dust Devil Invitational and Melee in the Mountains. The Kraken started this season ranked 137th in the world. Additionally a few fresh faces were added to the travel team. Thanks to a deep bench and integrated training program, the addition of new teammates felt seamless.
A last minute invite to the Dust Devil Invitational Tournament in Tucson, AZ this March provided SoCal an opportunity kickoff the competitive season against some higher ranked teams. The first bout of the weekend against Humboldt Roller Derby (ranked 111) was a long anticipated rematch. Both teams traded off Lead Jammer and low scores during the first few jams, leading to a tied score of 16-16 in jam number 5. Humboldt managed to hold the Kraken scoreless for several jams after that and seemingly ran away with the score. A jammer penalty called on Humboldt’s Atreyu half way through the first period resulted in a momentum shift in the form of a 14 point power jam by Isabelle Ringer, the highest scoring jam of the game for SoCal, which closed the gap to 86-47. SoCal tightened up their defensive walls for the remainder of the game, and kept Humboldt scoreless for 13 jams in the second period alone. SoCal continued chipping away at the point spread, with Ringer, Ryl’d Up, and Hartlyn putting up points to end the game at Humboldt 179 – SoCal 130.
Next up SoCal played FoCo Roller Derby (ranked 117) from Fort Collins, CO. Striking hot and fast, Isabelle Ringer put up 19-0 points in the first jam. Because SoCal jammers acquired lead jammer status 50% of the time, FoCo was held scoreless for several jams until SoCal skaters started rotating into the penalty box. It seemed as though FoCo was poised for a comeback with their pack advantage, and took the opportunity to catch up by the half FoCo 92 – SoCal 99. Jammer penalties continued to plague SoCal in the second half of the game, while FoCo managed to take the lead in the first few jams and started to make a run for it. During the last 15 minutes of the game, Ryl’d Up, Hartlyn, and Ringer all managed to respond with double digit scoring jams, closing the gap and taking back the lead with a couple of jams to spare. SoCal came out on top with a 221-211 win.
In the last game of the tournament, some unexpected lineup changes left SoCal with little room to adjust their pack and jammer rotation against Duke City Derby (ranked 110) from Albuquerque, NM. Slamurai debuted as a SoCal jammer, however losing her left Kraken defensive packs trying to fill the gap she left behind in the defensive walls. Duke City was able to keep SoCal’s jammers in the packs, allowing them to run up the score very quickly, while they held SoCal scoreless for several jams. The teams left off with a halftime score of Duke City 129 – SoCal 40. SoCal managed to bring some of their offensive plays into action during the second half, and started seeing more success from veteran SoCal jammers. SoCal managed to trade lead jammer status with Duke City for most of the second half, which allowed them to stop the bleeding and finishing up with a score of Duke City 224 – SoCal 110.
Despite one close win and two hard fought losses over the course of the weekend, the Kraken rose 10 spots to 127 in the March 2019 rankings based on their performance against higher ranked teams during Dust Devil Invitational. With time to make adjustments before the next tournament weekend, SoCal set new goals in the weeks leading up to Melee in the Mountains. In the first matchup, SoCal was set to face the host league, 10th Mountain Roller Dolls, who were expected to be closely matched at a rank of 126. In her debut game as a Kraken jammer, Brynn Diesel, a recent transfer to SoCal, filled the hole in the jammer rotation after Dust Devil. The first half of the game saw 10th Mountain and SoCal trading off lead jammer status and a few points here and there. A 10th Mountain Jammer penalty early in the second half allowed Ringer to run a dominating 28-0 jam, giving SoCal a solid lead. Following her example, Hartlyn and Brynn Diesel followed through with 15-0 and 12-0 jams, respectively. SoCal ultimately defeated 10th Mountain by a score of 176-125, setting them up to face the Boulder County Bombers (ranked 105) in the Championship Bout. With some tweaks to the pack rotations and extra relief jammers on hand due to the altitude, SoCal steadily matched Boulder County’s points, keeping the game close through most of the first and second periods. Double digit scores from Ringer, Hartlyn, and Slamurai allowed SoCal to pull slightly ahead and focus on running down the clock by running jams long and putting up points for points when Boulder had lead jammer status. SoCal beat Boulder County by 183-168 in one of their strongest performances against a higher ranked team this season. At the end of April, SoCal climbed another 5 positions to 122, continuing to reach toward their goals for the 2019 season.
“It was amazing to get to go to my home state and play the sport I love in front of my friends and family. It was even more incredible playing alongside each and every one of these ladies. The kraken has really come together and found a great groove to their game play and the wins we are bringing home reflect that. I’m so proud to be apart of this team!” – Reckem Ralph
Contributing Writer: Margaret Bleed