Manley, U.S. women make statement by winning bronze

By on June 29, 2016
Alyssa Manley (right), a 2012 Warwick grad, helped the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team win the bronze medal at the Champions Trophy Tournament in London, England. Photo by Suzette Wenger

Alyssa Manley (right), a 2012 Warwick grad, helped the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team win the bronze medal at the Champions Trophy Tournament in London, England. Photo by Suzette Wenger

The last time the USA Women’s Field Hockey Team medaled at the Champions Trophy Tournament, Alyssa Manley was just a toddler.

That was in 1995.

Last Sunday, the 2012 Warwick High School grad was a key player for the Americans as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to knock off Australia 3-2 in a shootout in the bronze-medal match at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

It’s their first Champions Trophy hardware since taking bronze 21 years ago in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

“It was definitely very big and it was a really nice statement in the lead-up to the Olympics, showing that we can compete with these teams,” Manley, a midfielder, said. “Coming from 2-0 down, that shows how resilient we are as a team that we play for the full 60 minutes and don’t quit.”

On Monday, after leaving their hotel at 5:30 a.m. in London and traveling all day, the U.S. players and coaches were greeted with a hero’s welcome at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster.

“None of us were expecting it, and it was nice seeing all the people there with the support after a long, tiring day of travel,” Manley said. “I think by the time I went to bed, it was going on almost 24 hours. So it was a long day.”

Long, but fruitful might be the best description of the U.S. Women’s journey, in which they split in two games against the world’s No. 1-ranked Netherlands, then battled to ties in the Champions Trophy against Australia and New Zealand, who are ranked No. 3 and 4, respectively, and defeated Great Britain and Australia.

“Those teams are the best in the world, so it was just great getting to play against teams that are so smooth with their playing,” Manley said, “and they’re fit, athletic, they’re technically sound in their play and that was really nice to see and play against that. I personally loved playing against such high competition … With my hopes of getting selected to be on the Olympic Team, it’s good to have that experience under my belt in case I get the opportunity to go up against them again in the next coming month.”

Thanks to their finish in London, the U.S. Women jumped from seventh to fifth on the International Hockey Federation’s World Ranking system.

Although Manley didn’t figure in any of the scoring in the Champions Trophy, she still made her presence felt, including breaking up a Great Britain pass late in a 2-0 shutout last Thursday.

“I felt very confident in what I was doing,” she said. “We were trying to focus on things — (being) strong on the ball and really helping the team out.”

Their 1-1 tie against New Zealand on Saturday propelled them to Sunday’s bronze-medal match.

U.S. coach Craig Parnham credited his team’s defense for stepping up against New Zealand to earn a key point in the standings.

Going back to her days at Syracuse, with whom Manley won the NCAA title last fall, she has been accustomed to a more defensive style of play.

With the National Team, she is working on trying to get into the attack more.

“I think ever since I’ve gotten onto the National Team, I’ve kinda grown with moving up in the attack more,” said Manley, one of 12 finalists for the Honda Cup, which is presented to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year.

Since returning from London, Manley and her teammates have been given three days off to recover, although they are still doing light conditioning to maintain their level of fitness.

On Friday, Parnham will make the final selections for the 16-player roster which will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“Definitely nervous,” Manley said of her emotions leading up to the final cuts. “You never really know how it’s going to go. So I’m definitely nervous and excited to find out whether I’ve made the cut to go or not. But no matter how it goes, whether I make it or not, I’m going to be so supportive of the team and the girls that get to go.”

 

 

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