Upon reflection, 2015 turned out to be one of the most successful years in St. Louis women’s professional athletics as all four squads featured at Arch City Sports reached national recognition and concluded their respective campaigns with post-season appearances.
A capsule summary of the leagues featured here this past calendar year:
ST. LOUIS SURGE
The 2014 National Champion of the Women’s Blue Chip Basketball League (WBCBL) knew that they were going to have to compete at its highest level this past summer if it wanted to hoist back-to-back titles.
Following a season-opening road victory over Nebraska the first weekend of May, St. Louis saw its 12-game WBCBL winning streak snapped in a three-point road loss to Minnesota two weeks later.
Undaunted, the Surge re-focused and finished the regular season with eight straight dukes, which included an unblemished 5-0 mark at its home court at UMSL’s Mark Twain Center. Home victories included another win over Nebraska, a 20-point revenge against Minnesota and an overtime triumph over the Flint Monarchs, the defending champion of the Women’s American Basketball Association.
With its regular season 7-1 finish in the WBCBL, and a 9-1 overall record, the Surge received the top seed for the Midwest Division post-season tournament. The four-team tussle held at Missouri Baptist University in mid-July saw St. Louis post a 89-52 semifinal win over the Missouri Arch Angles and a 96-60 thumping over Nebraska to claim the divisional trophy and entry to the WBCBL National Championships.
Seeded third in the field of eight at the mid-August showdown in Greenville, South Carolina, the Surge powered up on the first day of the tourney and notched a 94-60 quarterfinal victory over San Antonio and later recorded an 82-79 nail-biter over second-seeded Auburn to advance to the WBCBL Championship.
In the finale, St. Louis stayed close to top-seeded, and undefeated, Charlotte but fell, 98-86, to finish second place nationally in the WBCBL. The setback resulted in a final 2015 record of 11-2 in the WBCBL and 13-2 overall.
Although the end of the season didn’t pan out the way the Surge had desired with a second straight title, the fact that they upset a higher-ranked franchise in order to reach the championship game was a significant benchmark for the squad and solidification as one of the WBCBL’s elite.
With numerous talented components slotted to appear next season, the Surge is primed to shock the competition in 2016 and set the template for another post-season run, if not another trip to the WBCBL’s trophy game.
The Surge’ 2016 campaign is set to begin with road contests in May and season tickets for its home games, where an all-inclusive package of five games are going for $75, are available by GOING TO THIS LINK.
For more information on the Surge, go to stlsurgebasketball.com.
ARCH RIVAL ROLLER GIRLS
With newfound enthusiasm boosted by returning veteran skaters and transfers with championship tournament experience, the St. Louis-based franchise’s All-Stars travel team accomplished historical benchmarks on an international level within the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).
Beginning the interleague season ranked #23 out of 238 international teams, Arch Rival raced out to a 12-0 record which included three-game invitational sweeps at April’s Skate To Thrill, May’s Spring Roll and June’s Midwest BrewHaHa. The streak of a dozen victories was punctuated by a 48-point victory over Detroit in early August at the teams’ home track at Midwest Sport Hockey in Ballwin. With the duke over Motown, St. Louis kept its undefeated travel team home winning streak unblemished at 19 games and with its hard summer sprint, the squad raised its respective WFTDA rank up to #11 internationally.
On August 8, a Floridian road trip resulted in Arch Rival’s first setback of the season, an 81-point loss to #9 Jacksonville. A 145-point win over #18 Tampa the next day salvaged a Sunshine State split and pushed the team’s final regular season sanctioned record to 13-1.
Arch Rival’s rankings traction was good enough to net the squad the third seed at the WFTDA Division 1 playoff round in Tucson, Arizona in early September. St. Louis strong-armed sixth-seeded Des Moines, 241-76, in the quarterfinal round to advance to the semifinals, where they succumbed to second-seeded Bay Area and were sent to the playoffs’ third place game.
In its bronze medal tussle against #14 Rocky Mountain, Arch Rival utilized a 61-0 second period rally and notched a 224-185 victory. With its third place finish, St. Louis earned its inaugural entry to the WFTDA International Championships, earmarked for the surviving twelve post-season teams.
At November’s premiere flat-track finale in St. Paul, Minnesota, St. Louis faced friendly rival Jacksonville in the opening round. The physically and emotionally-draining rematch saw Arch Rival possess a 21-point lead with four minutes remaining, but Jacksonville churned 27 points uncontested in the back stretch to overtake the lead and inevitably handed St. Louis a 149-141 setback.
Arch Rival finished the year 15-3, which set a new highpoint for wins in a season, and its post-season performance pushed the squad to a WFTDA rank of #10 internationally, also a new benchmark.
On the local level, the leagues’ three-team campaign concluded in June as 1,500 fans at Chaifetz Arena saw the Stunt Devils post a 164-85 victory over the two-time defending ARRG champion Smashinistas to collect its first local title in five seasons.
For more information on the Arch Rival Roller Girls, whose home-based docket continues at Midwest Sport Hockey at Queeny Park this Saturday with the M-80s (1-0) battling the Stunt Devils (0-1), go to archrivallrollergirls.com.
ST. LOUIS SLAM
The Gateway City’s representative in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) returned to the field in April after a season of inactivity. Under new ownership, the SLAM set its sights on re-establishing itself as a major player in women’s professional tackle football with its plethora of veteran talent and rising rookies on the charter. Its promotional mantra this past season was “Unfinished Business,” a reference to its re-emergence in the football complexion.
It didn’t take long for the SLAM to make those take notice as victories over Minnesota and Tulsa quickly set the tone. A setback to cross-state rival Kansas City in the first weekend of May dropped the team to 2-1, but St. Louis responded by churning four straight wins. Victories over Minnesota (50-39), Derby City (16-8), Tulsa (52-19) and Kansas City (35-22) pushed the team’s record to 6-1 and helped St. Louis claim the top spot in the WFA Great Plains Division.
A loss to WFA powerhouse Chicago Force resulted in the SLAM’s 6-2 regular season finish but the locals’ overall output was strong enough to net the squad its fifth playoff appearance in the last seven WFA post-seasons. This was especially impressive considering that the team, non-existent on the gridiron one year prior, was now one of 16 teams competing nationally for a trophy.
In its opening round match-up on June 27 against Dallas, a team that inevitably finished second overall in the WFA, St. Louis suffered a 54-3 loss and finished its campaign 6-3, a monumental achievement for a franchise that dangerously teetered on the brink of extinction one year prior.
The SLAM is primed in 2016, its thirteenth year of operation, to follow through on the upward trajectory. With a solid core of veterans returning, and new faces potentially found via open tryouts held late this year, the squad looks to keep its orange and black-clad momentum rolling along. In short, the SLAM’s “business” aims to pick up once again at a high-level in April. Season tickets for home games are on sale right now for under $40 by GOING TO THIS LINK.
For more information on the St. Louis SLAM, go to stlslamfootball.com.
ST. CHUX DERBY CHIX
Arch City Sports’ other reported roller derby franchise entered 2015 with high hopes and nervous anticipation. A first-time appearance last season at the aforementioned WFTDA international post-season at the Division 2 level gave the St. Charles County-based rollers incentive to make a return trip. They accomplished that this past year, but in order to do that, they had to mightily face numerous obstacles.
From the onset, St. Chux tackled its most aggressive schedule in the team’s six year history. A 2015 docket that consisted of a pair of games against higher-ranked Division 1 teams and a multitude of tussles against Division 2 squads, who inevitably appeared at the WFTDA D2 Championships later in the year, meant that the caliber of play was going to reach upper-echelon levels for the Pack In Black.
St. Chux, who started the season ranked #39 internationally by the WFTDA, launched its campaign 1-2 after a highly-competitive How The West Was Won invitational in early-March, where they notched a win over #59 Brewcity.
The home campaign at St. Peters’ Matteson Square Garden debuted in late-March with a 14-point setback to Nashville, who eventually finished second at the WFTDA Division 2 Championships. The squad continued to push its efforts against higher-ranked franchises as the season progressed. Setbacks at its hosted Skate To Thrill Invitational in April to Naptown and Demolition City, also WFTDA D2 Championship finalists, as well as No Coast, a team that advanced to the D1 post-season, dropped the team’s record to 2-7.
With a 47-point setback to Oklahoma Victory at home in June, St. Chux concluded its regular season 2-8. However, its strength of schedule played earned the Pack In Black a return trip to the WFTDA post-season, where it received the seventh seed at the Division 2 playoff round held in Cleveland, Ohio in mid-August.
Following the frustrations encountered during the regular season, St. Chux played its most-inspired, and successful, derby at the Gopher State-based tournament and finished the August 22 weekend higher than where it was seeded. A first-round tussle against eighth-seeded Brandywine resulted in a 10-point win. The Pack In Black fell to second-seeded Kansas City by 69 points in the tourney’s quarterfinals but were able to re-focus on the weekend’s second day and collect a 206-135 win over eighth-seeded Jet City to earn a trip to the weekend’s fifth-place game.
In what turned out to be a nail biter in a re-match against first-round opponent Brandywine, SCDC posted a 216-215 win to finish the weekend 3-1 and conclude the year on a high note by finishing the weekend two positions higher than when it started.
In short, the league’s goal of making a second WFTDA playoff was achieved and notching more wins in the post-season tournament than what it had collected altogether in a highly-competitive regular season was a nice boost.
For more information on the St. Chux Derby Chix, whose 2016 campaign begins in the first third of the new calendar year and home games return to St. Peters’ Matteson Square Garden, go to stchuxderbychix.com.
Once again, 2015 was one of the best years, across the board, for women’s professional athletics in St. Louis. Arch City Sports was on-hand, and on-site, for exclusive coverage and will return for in-depth game previews, recaps and features for all four franchises in 2016.