By Paul D. Bowker | July 20, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)
Members of the U.S. women’s field hockey team celebrate a goal at the FIH Hockey World League on July 8, 2017 in Johannesburg.
 

 

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The U.S. Women’s National Field Hockey Team begins its pursuit of its first World Cup title this week.

The U.S., which is ranked No. 7 in the world, faces No. 16 Ireland in its opening match of the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup on Saturday in London. Team USA then gets three days off before facing No. 2 England on Wednesday.

The U.S., which finished fourth at the last World Cup in 2014, must finish among the top three teams in its preliminary pool of four teams in order to advance to the next round. In addition to the U.S., England and Ireland, Pool B also includes No. 10 India.

“With the format that you have now, it’s hard on everyone. You can’t slip up,” said U.S. coach Janneke Schopman.

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If the U.S. wins its pool, it will advance directly to the quarterfinals. If it finishes second or third, then the U.S. will play in a cross-over playoff game on July 30 or 31.

The U.S. team includes two-time Olympians Michelle Vittese and Melissa Gonzalez, along with 2016 Olympic teammates Kat Sharkey, Caitlin Van Sickle, Alyssa Manley, Jackie Briggs and Stefanie Fee.

The medal round is Aug. 5.

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.