Syracuse field hockey’s Laura Hurff attempts to fill void of ‘legend’ Alyssa Manley

first_imgAlyssa Manley is a Syracuse legend, according to SU field hockey midfielder/forward Serra Degnan, and there are statistics to back that statement up.Manley was the only player on the entire 2016 Olympic field hockey roster for the United States in Rio de Janiero — a tournament in which the U.S. finished fifth — whose last appearance was at a collegiate level. Before Rio, she led the Orange to its first-ever national championship in 2015 and was awarded the Honda Sports Award for field hockey, an award given to the best field hockey player in the NCAA.But after expiring her eligibility last season, Manley’s loss has left a giant hole in No. 2 Syracuse’s (2-0) midfield. It’s a hole that Syracuse head coach Ange Bradley agreed is one of the largest she’s ever had to fill, going on to say that even though it’s a hole that might require multiple players to patch. Junior midfielder/forward Laura Hurff has stepped up into Manley’s role and started to fill it exceptionally well.In 2015, Hurff improved from her freshman season. She took on a bigger role, starting all 22 games and scoring two game-winning goals on the season. The season prior, she played in every game but didn’t start all of them. She was named an National Field Hockey Coaches Association first-team All-American, and a second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree. But Hurff’s strong sophomore campaign came with Manley on the field alongside her, attracting most of the attention from opposing teams. This season, it’s up to Hurff to step up in Manley’s absence and prove that she can become the primary workhorse of the midfield herself. A good place to begin, Hurff said, is to adjust her mentality on the field.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Alyssa just has this calmness to her when she plays, even when she mis-traps (the ball), she stays calm,” Hurff said. “So I’m trying to work to get that calmness in my play.”Hurff has already garnered accolades in 2016, starring on the USA U-21 National Team this summer at the Junior Pan-American games in Trinidad and Tobago and winning the silver medal. She was also named as a preseason All-ACC selection for the 2016 season, an honor that Manley received in 2015.In Friday’s 2016 season opener at Temple, Hurff was relatively quiet in the midfield, posting no assists or goals. Manley’s first game of the 2015 season went similarly, an away contest at No. 6 Stanford where she also failed to post any goals or assists. In Sunday’s game at No. 6 Maryland, Hurff fired three shots, all on goal. In Manley’s second game of the 2015 season against University of California Davis, she too launched three shots, scoring one goal.The similarities between the two go deeper than statistics. Hurff is so talented, Degnan said, that she will likely be the next SU star to see time on the U.S. national team, just like Manley. And after her summer performance with the U-21 national team, Hurff is already beginning to emerge as a strong candidate in the conversation surrounding the 2020 Olympic Games.“I think we’ll see her in Tokyo in 2020, definitely,” Degnan said. “She is unbelievable.”But regardless of her future, Hurff is focused solely on herself and her impact on the 2016 team right now. She’s been working on improving her game, and though she knows she may never be able to live up to Manley’s legacy, she’s trying to get as close as possible.“(Manley) was an amazing player, and nobody is really gonna fulfill her spot,” Hurff said. “I’m doing the best that I can right now, and trying to help the team any way I can.” Comments Published on August 29, 2016 at 9:59 pm Contact Matt: mjfel100@syr.edu Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more