NC Playoffs: 2NC Minnesota Tips 10NC Madison, 202-125
NIAGARA FALLS, NY--Minnesota and Madison played out a surprisingly close 202-125 game that was much more reminiscent of some of their older clashes than more recent form. In the first half, Minnesota kept their penalties under control and were able to control Madison's jammers at the back of the pack almost throughout, but Madison edged the second half as Minnesota slipped back into some penalty-heavy habits from earlier in the season. It wasn't enough to snatch the win--but it was enough to show their massive win over Cincinnati earlier in the day wasn't a fluke for the Dairyland Dolls, and may be indicative of the start of a return to form for the North Central's number ten seed.
Minnesota got lead in the first two jams but were limited to two points as Madison broke their jammer out just behind, doing a great job racing to the front and holding it there. Jam three saw the first lead change as Busta Crimes and Thrill Show held up Medusa in the Madison pack for almost 90 seconds, letting Magic Missile put up three natural grand slams and push the Dairyland Dolls into a 16-2 lead.
Harmony Killerbruise cut the deficit to 16-6 before Juke Boxx put up Minnesota's first grand slam of the bout with just over six minutes gone, and added four more points with Wildberry Punch stuck at the rear as Minnesota took control of the back of the pack. L’exi Cuter restored MNRG's lead in the next jam, before Medusa made much easier work of her second jam as her pack again held the back, making the score 28-16 with a little under ten minutes gone.
Minnesota edged a run of scrappy jams into a 49-24 lead with a little over ten minutes left in the period. They succeeded when they could hold their walls together at the back, whereas Madison were able to pick up lead jam calls once they laid on some offense to break up those rear walls. A 4-1 pack advantage for L’exi Cuter let her extend the lead to 67-25, before Madison took a time-out in an effort to restore their early-game fortunes and arrest Minnesota's momentum.
Second Hand Smoke and Harmony Killerbruise made sure that didn't work, though, giving Minnesota a fifty point lead with five minutes to go. Juke Boxx and L’exi nickle-and-dimed the lead a little further before a low block call on Sugalumps handed Medusa a powerjam with almost no Madison blockers on the track to stop her running amok. Minnesota held a 117-37 lead when Magic Missile lined up for the last jam of the half against Harmony Killerbruise; Missile got lead, but was reabsorbed and forced into a 0-0 call.
In the second jam of the half, Juke Boxx got Minnesota's first jammer penalty of the night, letting Wildberry Punch put up her first big jam, reducing Madison’s deficit to 121-62. Sugalumps got lead in the next jam, but was forced into a call thanks to a perfectly timed hit by a chasing Second Hand Smoke just inside the engagement zone. Mack the Knife made it three lead calls from three as Minnesota started to fill their box, but the jam ended scoreless after she, too, was forced into a call.
Harmony tomahawked her way to lead jammer status to stop the rot as the Dairyland Dolls found some penalty trouble of their own--and she put up a natural 19-0 over Wildberry Punch. That didn't snuff out hopes Madison might have had of building on their early half momentum to mount a comeback, as the penalties swung the other way in the next jam as Magic Missile put up 25 on a power jam while Minnesota struggled with a 4-2 pack disadvantage and passive offense from Madison.
Minnesota's penalty trouble continued as Madison pulled themselves up to a 157-95 deficit. Minnesota then got their penalties back under control and started to run the clock and extend their lead bit-by-bit, although still letting Madison score occasional points as time ticked down. An extended official time out with a little under five minutes to go let both teams collect their thoughts and left Minnesota with a 190-111 lead to defend.
A few low-scoring clock-running minutes later, Minnesota had a 197-111 lead when Medusa was on the wrong end of a low block major wearing the star as MNRG's blockers filled the box. Wildberry Punch put 19 points on the board for Madison to close the gap--but was boxed with seconds left in the game after Medusa was released.
The final score was 202-125 to Minnesota, meaning Minnesota advance to play Naptown in the second semifinal at 4pm tomorrow. Madison move into the consolation bracket with a bout at 8pm tomorrow against the winner of The Chicago Outfit and Detroit.