The final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was played on Sunday July 5th in Vancouver, in a match between the 2011 champions Japan and the United States who last claimed the title 16 years years ago. These two teams were facing each other in a major tournament final for the third time in recent history. The game ended 5-2 in favor of the U.S. courtesy of a hat trick from Carli Lloyd who had a stellar performance, along with goals from Tobin Heath and Lauren Holiday.
[quote_box_center]“I feel like I blacked out in the first 30 minutes of that game,” Lloyd said. “It’s just crazy.”[/quote_box_center]
The first half of the match was jaw-dropping and inspiring with the energy and performance the U.S. put out. Many thought the game was over already with 4-0 in the first 20 minutes of the match, as it was going to be nearly impossible for Japan to come back. Despite their effort and dangerous attacking in the second half, at the end it just wasn’t enough for the Japanese players to turn the game around.
[quote_box_center]”I was just on a mission to help my team win this game,” Lloyd said. “Personally I have worked my butt off, and all the repetitions came into play.”[/quote_box_center]
The U.S made history in so many ways in this match: Carli Lloyd was the first player to score a hat trick in a World Cup final match; she had the fastest hat trick in any World Cup ever; this was the final with most goals scored, 7; the U.S is now the only country with 3 World Cup tittles in women’s soccer, and the USWNT are now the highest scoring team in the history of the tournament.
[quote_box_center]“There was something different in the air these last few days,” Lloyd confirmed. “There was no hesitation, no doubt. We were just super excited, super anxious to play this game. We knew if we take it to Japan, they’re going to get nervous. We locked them in, pressured them, and scored early which was fantastic.”[/quote_box_center]
The team’s performance was not been the always best throughout the tournament, as they had a slow start and a difficult time in the group stage. But it seems like they were improving match after match, and when they reached the later stages of the tournament the team was on fire, peaking at the right time.
[quote_box_center]“Yeah we did it,” Rampone said. “We had criticism in the beginning stages but we grew as a team, we got better and performed better against the tougher competition when it mattered. The knockout phase, we just picked it up a level. Carli Lloyd is tremendous and coming out tonight, you could see it. I mean two goals in five minutes? Pretty amazing. This team was on a mission.”[/quote_box_center]
First, they had to deal with the group of death which contained Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. Then in the knockout stages they went up against Colombia, China, and No. 1 ranked Germany en route to the final. The U.S. finished the tournament with a 6-1-0 record.
[quote_box_center]”Pure elation and I’m just so proud of them, and so happy for every American girl who dreams about this,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said after the victory.[/quote_box_center]
This was the last World Cup for some veteran Japanese and American players, for example Homare Sawa and Abby Wambach who both emerged from the substitutes’ bench to make their final World Cup appearences.
“I swear I think this is surreal, I don’t even think this is real life,” a joyful Wambach said after the win. “I’m so thankful that we stuck together as a team. We didn’t buy into any of that cynicism that was creeping in during the group stage. This is a championship for everyone.”
This was an incredible event with many upsets and surprises, but luckily for the U.S., they ended up getting what what they were waiting for. For those teams who didn’t make it, next World Cup will be held in France in 2019 and will also feature 24 nations. But before we think about what’s next, these 23 players and staff will take their time let everything sink in and celebrate this well deserved accomplishment.