On Sunday, July 5th, the United States Nation Women’s Soccer team went head to head with Japan in the Women’s World Cup Final. However, this final held more baggage than normal; It was a grudge match. Japan had beaten the United States in the 2011 final that was decided on penalty kicks. The United States was looking to prove themselves.
And that’s exactly what they did.
Coming into the game like a house on fire, the score was 2-0 after the first five minutes of play. That’s all thanks to Carli Lloyd, the 32 year old veteran midfielder from New Jersey, who put both past the goalie. Lloyd was not a name many of us heard amidst the World Cup hype. We saw videos and advertisements of Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, and Abby Wambach. Lloyd seemed to just disappear into the background. But during this redemption match, she made sure everyone knew her name.
Her most impressive goal came just before the 16th minute of the match. Faking a pass, she rocketed the ball passed a very confused goalkeeper. This shot was made from 56.9 yards away, and completed her hat trick, as well as a total of six goals scored all tournament. Not only is she the first woman to score three times in a final, but she also set the record for earliest hat trick in a world cup–both men’s and women’s.
The women went on to defeat Japan 5-2, winning their first world cup title since 1999. In ’99, Mia Hamm led her team to a victory against the relentless China. Now, Lloyd knows what it’s like to be the face of a championship. Some citizens are even suggesting that Lloyd be the woman to appear on the new $10 bill.
But why is this win, Lloyd’s records, and the increased media attention so important? By giving women’s sports and achievements a platform, we’re encouraging little girls (and boys!) to go out and play the sport they love. We’re giving them role models to look up to, to aspire to be. We’re telling kids that these accomplishments are worthy of heavy celebration.
We’re also introducing the notoriety of women’s soccer, and sports in general, to a broader population. Now, those who don’t even take a regular interest in soccer know who Carli Lloyd is. They know about her incredible accomplishment, and that is essential in furthering positive attitudes towards the importance of women’s athletics.
Across America, little girls are outside setting up a makeshift goal. They set the ball carefully onto the ground, and then mimic their mechanics to that of Lloyd. They do this for hours, practicing until it’s just right. They believe that anything is possible for them. And that’s more important now than ever.
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What was your favorite part of Team USA’s historic World Cup run?