The Women’s World Cup recap: Lloyd, have mercy!

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This is a recap of the championship game of the Women’s World Cup.

USA and Japan 5-2

Three, five, 14, 16, 54. Five goals, four of them in the first quarter of the game, would be the US Women’s National Team’s answer to all of the doubts that echoed around them throughout this 2015 Women’s World Cup. Five goals to two, including a record-breaking hat trick from Carli Lloyd changed doubters into believers.

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The match opened with the US absolutely dominating. Japan could not find their trademark passing rhythm, and the US was out to score. And score they did:

‘3 – A corner kick, the first of the match for either team was sent in low across the box by Megan Rapinoe. Carli Lloyd comes streaking in from the top of the box and hits the ball with the outside of her foot, sending it to the bottom left corner of the net.  1-0

‘5 – A free kick near the corner, delivered by Lauren Holiday is sent in, again low. Julie Johnston flicks the ball around Japanese defenders just into the path of Lloyd, who somehow finds the back of the net despite Japan’s Ayumi Kaihori and two defenders attempts to stop her. 2-0

’14 – A long ball in to Japan’s box by Tobin Heath was deflected by Azusa Iwashimizu, sending the ball straight up in the air. When it came down, Holiday was there with a beautiful, disciplined volley that would scream past Kaihori to make it 3-0 to the US.

’16- Lloyd receives the ball in her own half, turns, beats a defender. Glancing up, she sees that Kaihori is out of position and decides to take advantage. From midfield, Lloyd shoots, the ball flies 54 yards into the Japanese goal. Kaihori could get a hand to it, but it wouldn’t be enough to prevent a Carli Lloyd hat-trick.

Four to nil in the first 16 minutes; this match had been decided. While I expected Japan would still score, it was clear that there was no way the US was walking off the pitch with anything less than a win. With their less than convincing start to the tournament, concerns were abound, but with each round this team found a way to rise to the occasion. In the final, they rose above and beyond. This match soon settled into more of what we expected this game to be. Japan, fueled by desperation and possibly some fury, woke up. They started playing more like the team we know:

’27- Nahomi Kawasumi finds Yuki Ogimi in the box. Ogimi does extremely well to receive the ball near penalty spot, turning as she settles it. Julie Johnston wasn’t able to get in the way, slipping on the turf as she reached to prevent Ogimi from shooting. Ogimi however, calmly fires away, placing the ball in the upper left corner, out of the reach of Hope Solo.

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At halftime, the score was 4-1 and the match was the US’s to lose. While the second half wasn’t quite as emphatic as the first, it was clear that the Japanese were defeated They fought, and by the end of the match, Japan actually had had slightly more of the possession with 52%, and 12 shots to the USA’s 15.  Japan would improve after halftime, but the damage had been done early by the US and Japan could never quite recover, despite some hope at minute 52:

’52 – Aya Miyama takes a free kick for Japan, near the half line. Johnston attempted to clear with a header, but the ball from Miyama is only deflected into the US net making it an own goal for JJ.

’54 – The US quickly answered two minutes later, putting any nerves caused by the early, second-half goal by Japan at ease.  Another corner, this one from Holiday, found its way across the net to the feet Morgan Brian near the back post. Brian would do well do cut the ball back across the goal towards the six-yard line. There, Tobin Heath was waiting and would cooly pass the ball into the net.

USA v Japan: Final - FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

Five goals to Japan’s two was more than enough for the USWNT to be named World Cup Champions for the third time, but for the first time in 16 years. As the clock wound down towards the last 15 minutes, veterans Christie Rampone and Abby Wambach would take the field for their respective last World Cup matches. Rampone is the only member of the current squad who was also on the 1999 team, making this her second World Cup title.

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As the final whistle blew, Carli Lloyd sank to her knees. Elation was clear across the faces of the team and staff, but equally present was a sense of relief. After four years of dedicating their lives to this goal, they found their trophy. As that trophy was lifted, so was a weight they had been carrying for years.

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Awards

Winners: USA

Runners-Up: Japan

Third: England

Fourth: Germany

 

adidas Golden Ball:

1. Carli Lloyd (USA)

2. Amandine Henry (FRA)

3. Aya Miyama (JPN)

 

adidas Golden Boot:

1. Celia Sasic (GER)

2. Carli Lloyd (USA)

3. Anja Mittag (GER)

 

adidas Golden Glove:

Hope Solo (USA)

 

Hyundai Young Player Award:

Kadeisha Buchanan (CAN)

 

Fair Play Award:

France

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