Rolling in Rio

By on August 10, 2016
Lititz’s Alyssa Manley (right) and her teammates on the USA Field Hockey Team earned back-to-back upsets in their first two games in the 2016 Rio Olympics, defeating both Argentina and Australia by a 2-1 score. (Lititz Record file photo)

Lititz’s Alyssa Manley (right) and her teammates on the USA Field Hockey Team earned back-to-back upsets in their first two games in the 2016 Rio Olympics, defeating both Argentina and Australia by a 2-1 score. (Lititz Record file photo)

Through two games in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the USA Field Hockey Team couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Competing in Pool B at Deodoro Hockey Stadium, Lititz’s Alyssa Manley and her teammates jumped out of the gates with an early 2-0 record.

Impressively, the Americans, who are ranked fifth in the world, knocked off two higher-seeded teams, besting No. 2-ranked Argentina by a 2-1 score in their opener last Saturday, then carrying that momentum through for a 2-1 decision against No. 3 Australia on Monday.

In a press release on usafieldhockey.com, coach Craig Parnham said, “We’re in a good place now, but it’s crucial, very important, to keep focused on the next match ahead.”

That match was played against No. 10 Japan yesterday (Wednesday) after deadline.

Team USA has already surpassed its win total from the 2012 Summer Olympics, when they earned just one in London while placing 12th, and they are tied with No. 7 Great Britain atop the Pool B standings, each with six points and a 2-0 record. Those two squads are scheduled to play this Saturday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. on the USA Network.

Michelle Vittese scored late in the second quarter in the Americans’ win over Australia, on a penalty corner in the 25th minute, to give them a lead they never lost.

“We check off all of our boxes to ensure we’re well prepared before each match,” Vittese said. “We have this grit, this resilience because we have previously failed, because we’ve been in unfavorable positions. Regardless of our past or current ranking, regardless of our previous results, we play hard and I think the results of that show.”

In the 41st minute, Caitlin Van Sickle put Team USA up 2-0. Two minutes later, Australia halved the lead on a tally from Kathryn Slattery, but couldn’t get the equalizer.

For the second game in a row, U.S. keeper Jackie Briggs, of Robesonia, stepped up big between the pipes. Australia had a 10-7 advantage in shots, but Briggs finished with six saves.

“Similar to the Argentina game, today we defended what we needed to defend well,” Parnham said. “I’m really pleased with how we defended all around the pitch today, not just in the backfield. The midfielders and forwards did a great job in setting this tone as well. Because of this, we were able to create chances and cause Australia trouble.”

Last Saturday, Katie Reinprecht and Michelle Kasold scored in the 35th and 50th minutes, respectively, in Team USA’s 2-1 upset of Argentina. Both teams fired off six shots, but Briggs had nine saves, to three for Argentina’s Belen Succi.

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