BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Exactly one week after scoring the final goal in the United States' FIFA Women's World Cup Final victory over Japan, Tobin Heath greeted hometown fans in downtown Basking Ridge.
Outdoors on the porch of Ridge Family Dentistry, a beaming, friendly Heath signed autographs. Hundreds of people, some wearing soccer jerseys from Ridge or nearby towns, waited on a line along South Finley Avenue that turned around the corner onto East Oak Street.
The 27-year-old willingly posed for photographs with local fans, some of whom she seemed to recognize. Occasionally, Heath hugged friends from her girlhood years in Basking Ridge.
Heath scored the final goal to nail down the USA's 5-2 victory over Japan, giving the women their third FIFA World Cup title, and first since 1999. Another New Jersey resident, Carli Lloyd of Delran, scored a Hat Trick in the final and captured the adidas Golden Ball Award, given to the tournament's best player.
It was clear that Heath, who had previously played in the World Cup in 2011, and was a member of the 2012 US Olympic women's soccer team, was an inspiration to the many young girls in the crowd. Many carried soccer balls and dressed the part.
Mayor John Malay said he believed that Heath had contacted Dr. Cameron and Karen Witt, whose daughter had kept in touch with Heath after attending Ridge, to arrange the meet-and-greet event.
"She still has roots in this area," Malay said. "I think she's very generous to take some time off [for this] on a busy Sunday afternoon, especially in a post-tournament schedule.
Malay said township officials are hoping to name one of the upper athletic fields in Pleasant Valley Park in Heath's honor.