Manley, Martin help Orange win NCAA title

By on November 24, 2015

 

Alyssa Manley (right) battles a North Carolina player for the ball in the NCAA Division-One championship game on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

Alyssa Manley (right) battles a North Carolina player for the ball in the NCAA Division-One championship game on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

From the time the Syracuse University field hockey team arrived in Ann Arbor, Mich. for the NCAA Division-One Final Four last weekend, there was a sense of calm surrounding the players.

“We just had this faith and belief in ourselves that we were going to be able to get it done this weekend,” said Alyssa Manley, a 2012 Warwick senior and a senior midfielder for the Orange.

Sure enough, Syracuse took the first step by defeating Connecticut 3-1 on Friday, punching their ticket to the finals for the second straight year.

Facing North Carolina for the crown on Sunday, Syracuse’s faith was tested when the Tar Heels rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to pull even 2-2 with just 14 minutes left to play.

But the Orange (21-1) answered the bell, as Zoe Wilson connected for the go-ahead goal with 11:21 to go, then Emma Lamison added an insurance goal five minutes later, and Syracuse captured the program’s first-ever national championship with a 4-2 win.

“I’ve been working for this for four years,” Manley said, “so to be able to get it done this year before we graduate is really great.”

Jamie Martin, a 2015 Warwick grad and a freshman midfielder at SU, described winning the crown as a dream come true.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “I never imagined I would be so lucky to be part of a team so hard-working and dedicated.”

While Martin is still in the early stages of her collegiate career, Manley became one of the rare athletes to end their NCAA career with a win. In fact, over her four-year tenure with the Orange, Manley joined classmates Jess Jecko and Emma Russell in compiling a 74-14 record, earning honors as the winningest class percentage-wise in program history.

“I’ve grown so much just as a person in general going to Syracuse and having all the experiences that I did while being there. It will be very sad kinda moving on in my life, but I’m very grateful that I get to continue to play hockey,” said Manley, a transitional player on the U.S. National Team.

One of those experiences included playing in the NCAA finals against UConn in 2014. Unfortunately for the Orange, they came up just a little bit short, dropping a tough 1-0 loss to the Huskies.

Jamie Martin is a freshman midfielder on the national champion Syracuse University field hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

Jamie Martin is a freshman midfielder on the national champion Syracuse University field hockey team. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

One year later, that defeat helped to fuel the Syracuse women toward their goal.

“That was the first time in program history that anyone has made it to the finals,” Manley said, “so knowing we knew what it was like to be in the finals, to be to get that experience for this year was definitely (advantageous)… Obviously it was heartbreaking losing it last year, but I think it helped us this year with that experience.”

Syracuse defeated UMass 4-2 and then shut out Princeton 5-0 to advance to the Final Four. There, the Orange topped UConn 3-1 to send them to the championship game against North Carolina &tstr; the team responsible for SU’s only loss of the year, a 2-1 decision in the ACC finals.

With the stakes much higher this time, the Orange would not be denied.

Martin played in three games in her rookie campaign and recorded two shots on goal before an injury ended her season. Forced to the sidelines for Syracuse’s post-season run, she was thrilled to see her teammates get rewarded for their efforts.

“Honestly, I love how hard my teammates worked and I was happy they accomplished what they dreamed of and worked so hard for,” said Martin, who is hoping to receive a medical redshirt.

Seeing how close the Orange was to winning a national title, coupled with her respect for head coach Ange Bradley, were key reasons that Martin signed with Syracuse.

“I knew (coach Bradley) would stop at nothing until she did (win an NCAA crown), and that’s what I wanted,” Martin said.

It’s also what Manley wanted, and her level of play earned her selection to the All-Tournament Team.

“Getting the individual things, they’re nice, but obviously winning is what you go there for,” said Manley, who finished the season with four goals, seven assists and 15 points in 22 games. “It’s kinda nice to get the recognition on the side showing your personal hard work throughout the tournament, but being able to get the ultimate team prize was the best feeling.”

Alyssa Manley is a senior midfielder on the Orange field hockey team which defeated UNC 4-2 to claim the program's first-ever national title. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

Alyssa Manley is a senior midfielder on the Orange field hockey team which defeated UNC 4-2 to claim the program’s first-ever national title. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics)

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