The team, coached by Lee Bodimeade since 2005, made its first international appearance in 1920 when a touring team visited England, coached by Constance M.K. Applebee. The team made several international appearances in the early 20th Century, leading to the United States hosting the eighth International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations Tournament in 1963. Once the IFWHA merged with its counterpart on the men's side, the United States' first appearance at an FIH-sanctioned tournament was the 1983 Women's Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Americans ended up in sixth place. They have won bronze at the 1984 Summer Olympics and bronze at the 1994 World Cup.
During the 1984 Summer Olympics, the team won their first international prize, a bronze medal. This happened after the Netherlands defeated Australia (2–0) in the final match of the round-robin tournament and Australia and the United States were left tied for third place with identical records: two wins, two losses, one draw, and nine goals scored and seven goals conceded. Following the Holland-Australia match, the United States players came down from the stands and competed with the Australians in a penalty shoot-out to decide the bronze medal. The US won the shootout (10–5) to claim America's first Olympic medal in women's field hockey.