Once again New Jersey resident and Rutgers graduate Carli Lloyd, was the woman of the hour and was more than ready for the challenges presented by the World Cup. Her penalty kick against Germany was the game-deciding goal and the hat-trick on Sunday was the needed boost to put the US over top of Japan and come home with the hardware. She capped off the month with a four game scoring streak and won the Golden Ball as the most outstanding player over the course of the tournament. Lloyd is one of only two Americans to have ever been awarded the honor with the only other being American Carin Jennings against Germany in 1991.
Any questions about the American offense coming into the game were quickly forgotten once they had scored four times within the first 17 minutes including the fastest ever hat-trick in Women’s World Cup history as well as the only one ever in a final. The final total of five goals was the most ever scored by a single team in a World Cup final with no other team ever having scored more than two. All the goals scored on the day also put America a top the all-time goal list with 112, just above Germany.
The American defense was relentless as always and kept Japan to just a single goal in the first half and only four shots on goal for the full game. Hope Solo was spectacular in goal as well winning the Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper in the World Cup for the second consecutive time at the conclusion of the tournament. Coming out of the half there was a scare to the US side, after a free kick by Japan took a bad bounce off Julie Johnston’s head and into the back of the net the lead was down to two. Tobin Heath took care of that problem by scoring just two minutes later and the momentum was crushed leaving America up by three goals through to the final whistle.
With the win America became the first nation to have three Women’s World Cups and prevented a repeat of four years ago where Japan beat the US on penalty kicks in the final. The game was a demonstration of just how dominant the American team is on the women’s side of the sport and proved the ability of head coach Jill Ellis. Coming into the tournament and even during some early games, there were many questions about her ability to coach the team to the Cup and if she was using her players in the best possible way. Now, with this victory, there are no questions remaining; there is simply pride in all that the American Team has accomplished on its way to a third World Cup.