LANCASTER, Pa. – July 2, 2018 – It’s the second biggest stage for the sport held every four years. A squad of 28 women, all striving for the best, all fighting for the same dream had to be narrowed down. U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Janneke Schopman and coaching staff have named the 18-athlete roster that will travel to London, England for the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup from July 21 to August 5. The selected squad is a mix of veterans and young talent, some of who have less than ten international caps, who look to make a statement in London by showing the global hockey scene the unparalleled amount of work they put in these past few months.
“Selection was very difficult for us as a staff this year, we have so many players with different strengths that all add something to the team,” commented Schopman. “Choosing 18 means leaving players at home, that worked as hard as anyone which is never easy.”
Leading with experience are six-athletes who competed at the last rendition of this event in 2014. Contributing in the back on defense are goalkeeper Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.) and Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.). Adding strength in the midfield are captain Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.) and Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J), supported by Jill (Witmer) Funk (Lancaster, Pa.) and Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.) as strikers. This is counter-balanced with a few rookies who are looking to get their first taste of international competition in a major senior event. Lauren Blazing (Durham, N.C.) has been selected as other goalkeeper and Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.) and Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), who both have recent experience playing with the Junior USWNT, look to make a stamp against international opponents.
The Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup will take place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre’s pitch at the venue at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. The event is made up of 16 women’s teams, that are broken into four pools of four teams. FIH Hero World Ranked No. 7 USA sits in Pool B with defending Rio 2016 Olympic Gold Medalists No. 2 England, along with No. 10 India and No. 16 Ireland. The USWNT is set to play Ireland in their first pool game on Saturday, July 21 at 1 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local time).
After qualifying for the World Cup last year in South Africa at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals, the USWNT has been hard at work preparing for the international stage. In January, they hosted No. 1 The Netherlands for a four-game West Coast Series at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., followed by four more games against No. 21 Canada in Chula Vista, Calif. In April at the Home of Hockey at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa., USA went unbeated against No. 15 Chile in a four-match series before heading off to Tucuman, Argentina in the middle of June to face the No. 3 host nation for their final five-game series.
“Final preparations for the World Cup are underway, the games in Argentina showed us where we should put our focus on and the team is working hard to making sure we have covered all our bases come the first game,” added Schopman.
2018 USWNT Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup Team:
Lauren Blazing (Durham, N.C.), Jackie Briggs (Robesonia, Pa.), Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.), Ali Froede (Burke, Va.), Jill (Witmer) Funk (Lancaster, Pa.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Ashley Hoffman (Mohnton, Pa.), Amanda Magadan (Randolph, N.J.), Alyssa Manley (Lititz, Pa.), Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.), Lauren Moyer (York, Pa.), Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.), Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa.), Caitlin Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.), Michelle Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Nicole Woods (Beverly, Mass.), Julia Young (Yorktown, Va.)
In two weeks, join USA Field Hockey in celebrating the amazing accomplishment of the U.S. Women’s National Team as they head to London to participate in the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup 2018. The official World Cup Send-Off event will take place on Saturday, July 14 at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. Don’t miss out on an exceptional opportunity to meet and greet the players, get autographs and find out what it takes to be a USWNT athlete. Special guests and Olympians Katie Bam, Lauren Crandall and Rachel Dawson will kick off the event as the field hockey community will gather to send off the team. It will also include a raffle and silent auction with autographed team jerseys and signed hockey sticks. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.
For all information regarding the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London, including the full schedule, rosters, news and more, check out the event program by clicking here. #HWC2018 #Gr1tForGlory