It was incredible! On July 5th, the Women’s World Cup was recaptured by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team for the first time since 1999. In one of the most extraordinary performances I’ve ever witnessed, the U.S. Women’s team dominated Japan, taking a 4-0 lead less than 20 minutes into the game, and featured an unprecedented hat trick by New Jersey superstar Carli Lloyd. The final score of 5-2 was sweet revenge against the team that, in the 2011 World Cup final, beat the U.S. in penalty kicks.
The U.S. offense, which earlier in the tournament had been heavily criticized, started things off early with a well-designed and precisely timed corner kick. Carli Lloyd started far from the penalty box and came sprinting in as Megan Rapinoe hit a line drive along the turf. Lloyd caught the ball and whistled it toward the goal for the opening tally. Lloyd’s second goal came only three minutes later, and was quickly followed by a volley shot from Lauren Holiday, wife of former 76ers guard Jrue Holiday, for the third strike.
The first onslaught was concluded in the sixteenth minute when Carli Lloyd hit the midfield line and launched the ball high up into the air. Japan’s goaltender started backpedaling but couldn’t recover, allowing Lloyd to make the goal from 55 yards out and complete the first ever hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final.
The game felt unreal and, for a game where one false move can lead to defeat, was surprisingly low on tense moments. The 5-2 final was exhilarating and the team showed unbelievable class. When veteran Abby Wambach entered the game, Lloyd gave her the captain band to wear the rest of the game. In the 86th minute, Christine Rampone, the only remaining player from that inspiring 1999 team, entered the match and, at the age of 40, became the oldest player to appear in a Women’s World Cup.
Rampone, Brandi Chastain, and their teammates in 1999 inspired a generation of women when they brought the cup home. This year’s team will almost certainly have the same effect on young girls and women around the globe, and Carli Lloyd will long be remembered for one of the most memorable moments in international sports history. All I can say is this: Way to go ladies!