It’s a rebuilding season for the Durango Roller Girls, and if Saturday’s bout with Albuquerque Roller Derby is any indication the rebuild is going pretty well.
The Roller Girls overcame a massive deficit in the second half, taking the lead with 6:45 left in the bout – the team’s first lead since the opening minutes in the first half – before falling to Albuquerque 144-141 at Chapman Hill Ice Rink.
The close loss was tough to take, but considering DRG trailed by as many as 51 in the second half, and Albuquerque already beat the Roller Girls by triple digits earlier this summer, the excitement around Chapman Hill was as high as ever.
“We’re in a rebuilding season,” said DRG jammer Eager Beaver. “A lot of us, like myself, are new. But we practice hard and we practice together, and I think the cohesion is getting better. We’re learning each other and how we play. I think that’s why we did better than we did two months ago.”
Albuquerque was in control early and held a decisive lead through most of the first half. On a few occasions the Roller Girls made a run to get within 20 points, but every time they began to threaten a penalty would derail the run.
But as the bout wore on, a shift became evident.
DRG coach D-Bone said the Roller Girls skated more cleanly and avoided penalties in the second half. But maybe more important than the Roller Girls’ skating was how tired the Albuquerque skaters became.
Only eight ladies made the trip for Albuquerque. A couple were ejected during the bout, weakening the team’s already thin bench. Then fatigue began to set in.
Down 118-67 with 20 minutes left, the Roller Girls made their move. They outscored Albuquerque 40-10 over the next 10 minutes while the hometown crowd grew louder with every point.
Eager Beaver weaved in and out blockers, lapping the group several times before one final pass gave the Roller Girls a 130-129 lead, whipping the crowd into a frenzy so loud some younger spectators were forced to plug their ears to quiet the roaring cheers.
“I feel like I get this second boost of energy and adrenaline (from the crowd),” Eager Beaver said. “That one time I was just going around and around, all the cheering, I kind of felt numb from adrenaline. It was pretty intense.”
The Roller Girls maintained the lead until the final minute. But up 141-137 with less than a minute to go, Albuquerque had one last burst to retake the lead and hold on for the win.
“It’s great to see them improving,” D-Bone said. “I was super proud of the way they came back in the second half. Things were getting a little chippy and we kept our cool, and it worked.”