Lacrosse's Mannelly Looks to Make Impact in NCAA Tournament
May 7, 2014
Written by senior Kristen Scott
Boston College lacrosse has reached the NCAA tournament in three of the past four seasons, but for the first time in the program's history BC is hosting the tournament, which begins Friday on Newton Campus.
"Playing in the NCAA tournament is a privilege and I feel my players have worked incredibly hard this year, so I am happy that they get to experience it," said head coach Acacia Walker. "Hosting is also quite the honor and I know my team will be ready when game day rolls around, so we take advantage of the opportunity."
Captains Cali Ceglarski, Brooke Blue, and Moira Barry have all played in the tournament twice before. In 2011 and 2013, the Eagles lost in the first round to Northwestern and Dartmouth. Never having won a tournament game before, the captains know what it takes to compete against the toughest teams in the nation.
"Our captains have done a nice job leading our team this year and seeing that this will be their third NCAA tournament, I know they will make sure the team is prepared and confident heading in to the first round. Our goals are lofty for this group, but that's because we believe it's important to dream big," Walker said.
With big ACC wins against Notre Dame and Duke and only one-point losses to North Carolina and ACC Champion Maryland, Boston College has competed fiercely in a tight conference.
"In the tournament, we're going to play against really good teams that we've both won and lost to. So either way it's going to be tough to beat them again or for the first time," said sophomore midfielder Sarah Mannelly.
In her second season, Mannelly has been a force for the team. Walker talked about the impressive offensive presence that makes her such a unique player.
"Sarah has been an incredible addition to our team. Her offensive moves and speed in the midfield make her incredibly hard to stop," Walker said. "I have always thought she plays lacrosse like a basketball point guard. Her fluidity, vision and unselfishness remind me of NBA players like John Wall and Steve Nash."
As a freshman last year, she led the Eagles with five game-winning goals, was second on the team with 12 assists and finished third with 34 goals and 46 points. So far in her sophomore season, Mannelly is second on the team with 43 goals and third with 58 points.
"We've been doing well as a team and playing to our strengths. We do a great job on both ends of the field, especially on defense. Getting the ball from the other teams' top players and pushing out on transition has been a big help on our end," Mannelly explained.
The sophomore has played a key role in that defensive success during the regular season and looks to continue her strong play. "The best part of Sarah's game, however is not her offense, it's her defense that makes her a truly special player. She plays with great defensive angles and her athleticism allows her to contain some of the best players in the country," Walker said.
Mannelly has the skills, but she also has the attitude and determination to take her talent to the next level.
"What also keeps Sarah competing at a high level is her mentality. She is a tough player to shake. As a coach, you value the players who are not fazed by their mistakes. She can make three errors in a row but when it comes time for her to capitalize on the fourth play, she will fearlessly without hesitation," said Walker. "Sarah is the kind of player who makes coaching fun. She will do anything that is asked of her and her capabilities allow to her absorb knowledge quite easily. She loves her teammates and would do anything for them. What more can you ask for as a coach?"
Mannelly and the sixth-ranked Eagles kick off the NCAA Tournament against Bryant University on Friday at 5 p.m. on Newton Campus. Tickets are available for purchase at the gate and cost $5 for adults, $3 for students and $2 for children 12 and under. Children under two years old will be admitted for free.