Manley helps U.S. top India in Send-Off Series

By on July 20, 2016

 

 

Lititz’s Alyssa Manley, a 2012 Warwick High School grad, speaks to reporters after helping Team USA defeat India 3-2 on Monday night in the Rio Send-Off Series at Spooky Nook Sports. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Lititz’s Alyssa Manley, a 2012 Warwick High School grad, speaks to reporters after helping Team USA defeat India 3-2 on Monday night in the Rio Send-Off Series at Spooky Nook Sports. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

It was another dress rehearsal for the U.S. Women’s Olympic field hockey team … and another first for Lititz’s Alyssa Manley.

Only three weeks removed from winning bronze at the Champions Trophy Tournament in London, Team USA hosted India in the first game of the Rio Send-Off Series on Monday night in front of a packed house at Spooky Nook Sports.

And on a night when Manley got her first taste of India’s style of play, the Americans got a sweet sip of victory, capitalizing on a goal by Kelsey Kolojejchick with 12:59 left in the fourth quarter to pull off a 3-2 victory in front of NBC cameras.

“I’ve never played India before, so it was definitely different going up against them. But it was very exciting,” said Manley, a 2012 Warwick grad. “I enjoyed it … With this being our last series before going into the Olympics, (the win) is definitely very big to keep our momentum going forward and keep learning from every game we play.”

“Tonight was good for us, good to see them up close,” added U.S. coach Craig Parnham, whose squad hosted India again last night (Wednesday) before closing out the Send-Off Series next Tuesday, July 26 against Canada. “They’re a little bit different in the way they play and we don’t get to see that much of them. So there were some nice learning opportunities from this evening.”

Among the 1,700 people at Spooky Nook &tstr; many of those supporting Team USA’s red out &tstr; were Alyssa’s parents, Don and Nancy Manley.

They are making the most of their opportunities to see their daughter compete with the Olympic team, having also traveled to the Champions Trophy.

“We’re just so proud,” Nancy said. “She’s the youngest member on the team, and she’s been working really hard. She’s been focused and sticking with the routine and very disciplined.”

Due to her commitments with the U.S. National team, Alyssa missed graduation at Syracuse and walking with the other Orange field hockey seniors with whom she was close. Plus, she was unable to attend the presentation for the Honda Sports Award which she received, due to being in London.

But the trade-off, of course, is the Olympics.

Asked if they are still pinching themselves sometimes, Nancy said, “Yeah, it is pretty exciting. We went to London and that was just awesome over there. They hype it up &tstr; the players run out of the tunnel to music and they line up on the field and it was just really cool. She just loves it. She loves the game, she loves to play.”

Her passion was evident on Monday night. With Manley dishing outlet passes from her screen position and knifing with the ball through India’s defensive alignment, the red-jerseyed Americans went on to build a 14-7 advantage in shots, while entering the circle 24 times, to India’s 13.

To India’s credit, however, it battled back from a 2-0 deficit to pull even at 2-all &tstr; on goals by Preeti Dubey and Deepika &tstr; with 7:36 left in the third.

Team USA, currently ranked fifth in the world, expects nothing less when they meet India in the fourth game of Olympic Pool B play on Thursday, Aug. 11. Others in that pool are No. 2-ranked Argentina, No. 3 Australia, No. 7 Great Britain and No. 10 Japan.

“They’re a great team,” Parnham said of India. “We know the threats, we know the challenges they’re going to bring us and we’re preparing for it and will continue to prepare for it because it’s an important game tonight, but the real business is in a couple weeks.”

After Team USA scored the only goal in the first half, courtesy of Kathleen Sharkey with 5:12 elapsed in the first quarter, the two teams combined for three in the third quarter. On the fourth of the Americans’ five penalty corners, Katie Bam connected on a rebound to make it 2-0.

“We just kept attacking them,” Manley said. “We were really trying to go at them and get the ball in the goal.”

With their key Aug. 11 date against India looming in Rio in the near future, Manley acknowledged that they left a lot out of the playbook on Monday night.

“Yeah, I guess so,” she smiled. “There’s definitely stuff that we’re waiting to use for the big show.”

“It’s like a game of cat-and-mouse,” Parnham said. “You need to keep a few things back.”

The one thing they showed which will no doubt be present in Rio is their hard work, and Kolojejchick’s tally &tstr; on a rebound &tstr; early in the fourth gave Team USA a lead they never relinquished.

“(Crashing the net) is an area of play that we need to continue to work,” Parnham said, “attacking those parts of the circle, and I thought Kelsey did a nice job on the first shot and sitting on the rebound.”

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