The United States women’s national soccer team defeated Japan in the Women’s World Cup finals July 5 in dramatic fashion, scoring four goals in 16 minutes and trouncing the Japanese, 5-2, to end a 16-year championship drought.
The match took place in BC Place stadium in Vancouver, Canada. Japan was the reigning World Cup champion but didn’t stand a chance against the US women, who came out guns ablaze in the first half.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd, a Delran Township native, was the hero of the game, recording a hat trick in the first 16 minutes. Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath each recorded one goal for team USA.
Lloyd’s first goal was scored off a strategically-delivered corner kick from Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe sent a low ball into the box to find Lloyd, who sent the ball to the lower right side of the net for her first goal of the night.
Two minutes later, Lloyd scored her second goal of the match. The goal came off another US set piece. Lloyd received the ball from the back post after it bounced off a few bodies. She then sent a side-footed shot past Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead.
Shortly after, Holiday gave the US a 3-0 lead with a rocket shot from just inside the box. She capitalized on a failed clear by a Japanese defender and sent the ball flying past Kaihori.
One minute later, Lloyd scored her third of the night.
Collecting the ball at midfield, Lloyd noticed Kaihori out of position near the Japanese goal and seized the opportunity.
Lloyd launched a long distance strike from more than 50 yards out, and the ball struck Kaihori’s out-stretched hand before finding the back of the net to put the U.S. up, 4-0. The four goals were the four fastest consecutive goals scored in Women’s World Cup history.
Japan cut the deficit to 4-1 with a goal from forward Yuki Ogimi. Ogimi sent a curling shot past U.S. goalie Hope Solo.
The U.S. fan crowd was further quieted when USA’s lead dropped to two goals early in the second half. Defender Julie Johnston could not successfully clear the ball, as it bounced off the top of her head and past Solo for a disappointing own goal.
However, the U.S. bounced back with another goal off a corner kick. Rapinoe delivered another ball that the Japanese could not defend, and the kick found Heath, who sank a shot into the net to give the U.S. a 5-2 lead. The fifth goal made it the highest-scoring final in Women’s World Cup history.
After the decisive win, Lloyd was awarded the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament, and Solo won her second Gold Glove Award as the goalkeeper of the tournament.
The victory gave the U.S. women’s national team its third World Cup title and its first since the iconic 1999 win in Los Angeles.
Following the game, Lloyd said that she was speechless.
“Honestly, I’m so proud of this team,” Lloyd said. “This doesn’t feel real. It hasn’t sunk in. So unbelievably proud of every single person on this team. We just made history.”