Manley earns spot on USA’s Champions Trophy roster

By on June 8, 2016
Warwick grad Alyssa Manley (left), shown here with former coach Bob Derr (right), received an autographed T-shirt and lots of warm wishes at the Warwick Junior Hockey Camp last Friday prior to leaving the U.S. women’s field hockey team to compete for the Champions Trophy. Photo by Stan Hall.

Warwick grad Alyssa Manley (left), shown here with former coach Bob Derr (right), received an autographed T-shirt and lots of warm wishes at the Warwick Junior Hockey Camp last Friday prior to leaving the U.S. women’s field hockey team to compete for the Champions Trophy. Photo by Stan Hall.

The dream is still alive for Alyssa Manley.

In less than one month, U.S. Women’s Field Hockey coach Craig Parnham will make the final selections for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Only 16 will get the call.

But Manley, a 2012 Warwick High School grad, got some exciting news when she was named to the squad’s 19-player roster which will compete for the Champions Trophy in London, England from June 18-26.

Prior to flying out of Newark, N.J. with her teammates last Saturday, bound for Holland where they will play a two-match series against the Dutch Women’s National Team, Manley was honored at the Warwick Jr Field Hockey camp Friday night.

“I was definitely very excited,” Manley said of her selection to the Champions roster, “because it kinda just showed that I still have an opportunity to play at the Olympics. So that was really nice.”

As a senior at Warwick, Manley was a key cog on the Lady Warrior team that suffered a tough 2-1 OT loss to Hempfield in the PIAA State finals.

WHS coach Bob Derr had an extra bounce in his step at Grosh Field last Friday while presenting Manley with a Camp T-shirt autographed by Warwick players and coaches.

“You’re just so excited and so proud to have a player get to this level of play and get so close,” he said. “I mean, she’s one of the top 19 women field hockey players in the United States, and then it’s only three away to make the Olympic Team. As a coach, you’re just so proud of her.”

This is just the latest reason for the Warwick field hockey family to be proud of Manley. Last summer, she helped the U.S. squad qualify for the Olympics with a fifth-place finish in the World League, held in Valencia, Spain, and then they won the Pan-Am Games in Toronto, Canada.

Just a few months later, Manley and the Syracuse Orange hoisted the NCAA Division-One championship trophy, beating UNC 4-2 in the finals.

And since January, she has been back training with the U.S. women at Nook Sports in Lancaster.

“It’s kinda been like a whirlwind,” smiled Manley, who is just one semester shy of earning her college degree. “All of a sudden, I was brought up into training with the National team which is something I’ve always kinda hoped for, but never really knew where I stood against the other girls in the U.S. So that was really cool. Then going back to school and winning the national title was amazing. It was such a high to end my college career. And then coming back into train, just hitting it as hard as I did when I left last summer after winning the Pan-Ams was really cool.”

Derr watched Manley play when the U.S. hosted Chile in mid-May and was very impressed by her growth and development.

“I’m thinking, ‘Holy crow, she has gotten really good. Oh my God,’” Derr said. “You don’t see any difference in her as far as emotion. She just plays all-out, all-heart and just goes 100 percent the entire game. There’s no slowing down. And her vision on the field, that’s the other thing that really impressed me. If you watch her play, her head’s up all the time … She’s not the player that’s, like, flashy. She just gets the job done.”

The U.S. women will now be looking to get the job done as they travel to Holland and then London. Standing between them and the Champions Trophy will be the likes of Argentina, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

“(The goal) is pretty much put the pedal to the metal and just keep going hard at them,” Manley said. “I definitely think the anticipation of the Olympics has some part to play in this. But also for me, at least, I’ve only played Argentina out of the teams that we are playing against there. So this is a nice opportunity to get more exposure to different countries’ style of play and actually get a chance to play against them. They’re some of the best teams in the world, so that’s going to be really great.”

Shortly after returning from London, of course, Parnham will make his selections for the 16-player roster that will travel to Rio for the Olympics.

“If I was trying to select … (Parnham) has a tough job,” Derr said.

Derr, though, believes that Manley’s versatility is a strength that could help her cause.

“I saw the last couple games (against Chile) and she played every mid position — sides and center, and also some side back,” Derr remarked. “I’m thinking, ‘OK, they’re playing her a lot of different places,’ and they’re going to have to do that because of the speed of the game. Just watching the game, oh my God, it’s so stinkin’ fast. Wow. They play 15-minute quarters now.”

Manley, when asked if she likes her chances, said, “You never really know in this environment. Everyone is so good and we’re all playing together, but in a way, we’re also kinda fighting against each other for the final spots because everyone wants to go. We’re also so supportive of each other. I wasn’t really sure (about being named to the Champions Trophy roster). I obviously hoped that I would. I was just playing my hardest and kinda hoped that helped me get onto the 19-player roster.”

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