On the magical feet of midfielder Carli Lloyd’s first-half hat trick, the United States blew away Japan to capture its third women’s World Cup title Sunday in Vancouver. The victory snapped the U.S.’s 16-year title drought and also avenged the heartbreaking loss to the Japanese four years ago.
For a squad that largely relied on its stellar defense and the work of keeper Hope Solo, Golden Ball winner Lloyd and the U.S. surprisingly exploded with their most complete attacking match of the tournament and maybe in the program’s history.
Within the first five minutes, the 32-year-old Lloyd had already built a two-goal lead and nine minutes later earned the hat trick that would all but break Japan’s spirit.
Scoring six of the team’s 14 goals, Lloyd’s performance may go down as perhaps the greatest in team history, but other stars contributed some excellent goals during the tournament.
Let’s look back at the U.S.’s incredible run to the championship and the five best goals that got them there.
Alex Morgan vs Colombia in Round of 16
Before the tournament began Morgan was bothered by a knee injury, and this proved to be her only goal of the tournament. But the 26-year-old forward shined at just the right time, lighting up Colombia with a powerful strike that keeper Stefany Castano couldn’t wrangle in the 53rd minute. Lloyd, of course, would nail a penalty in the 66th to sew up the win.
Kelly O’Hara Beats Germany with Lloyd Assist in Semifinals
Already up by a goal but with the high-scoring Germans always a threat, Lloyd danced around the back line to find defender O’Hara flashing in front of the net. The well-timed assist led to the perfect deflection in the 84th minute and the win.
Megan Rapinoe’s First Goal vs. Australia In Group Stage
The U.S. started the tournament with a dynamite 3-1 victory over the Aussies, starting with Rapinoe’s first goal in the 12th minute. The veteran received a little bit of luck on how the shot bounced into the net, but the skill she used to first corral the ball and then create space around Australia’s defense was breathtaking. Highlight starts at the 18-second mark.
Lloyd Header Off Julie Johnston’s Perfect Assist
Johnston,23, put together an excellent tournament, and will likely be remembered for defending well beyond her years. But her gorgeous deep ball from near midfield to connect with Lloyd for the header and goal to put away China in the 51st minute of quarterfinals, should not be forgotten. Starts at 48-second mark.
Lloyd Levitates Over Japan’s Defense
The final goal of Lloyd’s hat trick should be praised not only for the shot's accuracy from midfield, but for the pitch-presence to recognize how out of position Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori really was. Goal starts at the 34-second mark.