Ready to take on the world

Courtesy of Sarah Bullard

Sarah Bullard (19) and the U.S. women's lacrosse team are ready to defend their 2009 World Cup title at the 2013 FIL Women's Lacrosse World Cup, which starts on Thursday.

I’m very excited to provide an “insider’s look” as the U.S. women’s lacrosse team begins our journey of chasing the gold at the Women’s Lacrosse World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario.

After finishing our final training camp in Buffalo, N.Y., the team arrived in Oshawa on Sunday night. Our time together in Buffalo was certainly full of lacrosse, as we refined our offensive and defensive sets and readied ourselves for the opponents we will be facing in Canada.

But while the ladies of Team USA are all business on the field, we like to have our fun as well and were able to fit in some adventures in Buffalo to bring us closer together. On Friday, we celebrated head coach Ricky Fried’s birthday with a fantastic dinner along the Niagara River. Then we revisited the river on Sunday, finishing our time in Buffalo with a ride on the Whirlpool Jet Boat. It was an adventure-filled hour, where we learned the history of Niagara Falls and got soaked as we navigated the Class 5 rapids and Captain Alicia’s “Hamilton Turns” -- a 360-degree turn in a boat in 1.5 seconds.

John Strohsacker

Sarah Bullard was a member of the 2009 World Cup team, and was captain of the 2007 under-19 team that won the world championships in Peterborough, Ontario.

My favorite activity with the team in Buffalo, though, was our Saturday night trip to Zittel’s Farm. Zittel’s is owned and run by a friend of the program, and they were kind enough to host us for a delicious dinner with some of their homegrown food and our team favorite: tractor rides around the farm!

We left Buffalo after plenty of team bonding and with the confidence that we had taken the next step forward in our preparation to earn the Cup.

Our ride from Buffalo to Canada, believe it or not, was also a defining moment of the trip for us. (Sidenote: If you haven't seen "Pitch Perfect," put it at the top of your summer to-do list.) We spent the trip blasting songs from the movie soundtrack, and since then, they've become staples on our pre-practice playlists. We like to think we sound as good as the Bellas as we sing along. We are also loving Avicii's song "Wake Me Up," which gets us through our walk to the practice field here at Durham College, where the World Cup is being held.

Our team couldn't be more fired up to start the tournament, and our coaches have only added to the excitement by surprising us with an inspiring video from the legendary Coach K. He shared his experiences coaching the USA basketball teams and wished us good luck on our journey. We also watched the documentary "Dare to Dream" about the U.S. women's soccer program from the '90s and early 2000s. Those players have defined and inspired a new generation of female athletes, and we hope to do the same.

After a final "friendly" Tuesday against Team Japan, Wednesday's Opening Ceremonies provided the official kickoff to the World Cup. We were lucky that the rain held off, as our uniform for the evening included white linen pants! The Opening Ceremonies are one of the coolest parts of the tournament, as all of the different countries get to interact and get together for photos.

Now we are counting the minutes until our first game Thursday night against England. After four years of hard work and preparation since the 2009 World Cup, this group is so honored to uphold the tradition of USA Lacrosse and represent our country. My experience with the ’07 Under-19 World Cup team and the ’09 World Cup team showed me that our opponents will never give up when they have their country’s name across their chests. We know that the next 10 days hold a great challenge for us, but there is zero doubt our team is ready for that challenge.

Let the games begin!