VANCOUVER, Canada—Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the game, and the United States went on to blitz Japan 5–2 to win their third FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was the highest scoring final ever in a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The final was billed as a battle between the power and strength of the Americans against the possession and highly technical game of the Japanese. It was a rematch of the 2011 final played in Germany, which Japan won in a penalty shootout.
But on this day, as the score indicates, the U.S. team was too strong for Japan and reasserted itself as the top team in women’s football.
Captain Leads by Example
The bigger the game was, the more Lloyd stepped up. It all started for Lloyd against Colombia in the Round of 16 when she scored the second penalty awarded to the U.S. after Abby Wambach missed the first.
Lloyd scored the game’s only goal in the quarterfinals against China. In the semifinal against Germany, Lloyd recorded a goal and an assist. Lloyd won the Golden Ball award for the tournament’s MVP. She narrowly lost out on the Golden Boot award as she was tied with Celia Sasic of Germany on goals and assists, but played more minutes than the German.
Japan was shell-shocked early in Sunday’s final, though. The first two U.S. goals started from set pieces on the U.S. team’s right flank. Balls into the box weren’t defended and Lloyd was the most opportunistic on both occasions.
Then, in a rather awkward way, Japanese central defender Azusa Iwashimizu headed a ball straight into the path of Lauren Holiday, who made it 3–0 before a quarter of an hour had elapsed.
And in an example of what supreme confidence can do for you, Lloyd completed her hat trick with a goal from near the halfway mark (54 yards). She caught Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori in a bad position and scored the goal of the tournament.
Japan’s Yuki Ogimi got one back for Japan in the 27th minute. It was only the second goal allowed by the U.S. team and it put an end to a near-record shutout string of 539 minutes, according to ESPN.
Japan got to within two goals early in the second half when Julie Johnston, who has had an outstanding tournament, scored on her own net after a Japanese free kick. But Tobin Heath restored the three-goal lead with a goal similar to her team’s first two—a corner kick resulting in a loose ball in the Japanese box that was eventually fired home.
In a move to salute two of the team’s best veterans, U.S. coach Jill Ellis sent on Abby Wambach, for what will be her final World Cup, and Christie Rampone, the only member of the team to previously win a World Cup with USA (1999).
The U.S. team started the tournament in a group with Sweden, Nigeria, and Australia—dubbed the “Group of Death.” The Americans won the group and then really picked up steam.
Coming through Germany and Japan in a row—who have three World Cup titles between them—Canada 2015 has been a tournament that the United States won’t soon forget.