The U.S. Women's National Team arrived at the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup with one goal in mind. They wanted to avenge themselves after losing a heartbreaker in the final match of the 2011 Women's World Cup.
Despite being one of the top teams in the world, and the three-time defending Olympic champion, the U.S. women hadn't emerged victorious in a World Cup since 1999. Until now.
In a wonderful display of ascending teamwork and strategy over the course of a tournament, the American ladies marched their way out of the group stage, through the knockout rounds and past defending champion Japan in the final to claim the 2015 World Cup crown.
With the tournament now over, here are the top U.S. matches from this summer's World Cup.
June 8, 2015- Group Stage vs. Australia
Goalie Hope Solo set the tone for the tournament by making a couple big early saves as the U.S. got their feet under them. Soon after, Megan Rapinoe scored the first of her two goals on the day to put the Americans on top. Christen Press scored the game winner shortly after halftime, a goal that was the United States' 100th in World Cup play.
June 22, 2015- Round Of 16 vs. Columbia
A pair of yellow cards to Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe would be a big part of the story as both women had previously been given yellows and would now have to miss the Americans next game. South Florida native Catalina Perez, who plays for the University of Miami soccer team, got the start in goal for Columbia and was very busy in a scoreless first half. Just over a minute into the second half, Perez came way off her line and took down Alex Morgan as she came into the box. Perez was given a red card and even though Abby Wambach missed on the penalty kick, the Columbians would have to play the rest of the match with only 10 players. Less than ten minutes later Morgan would give the U.S. the lead on a sharp angle shot that hit the keeper and went in. The Americans would get another penalty kick later in the half and tournament hero Carli Lloyd would not miss.
June 26, 2015- Quarterfinals vs. China
With Rapinoe and Holiday sitting out the match due to their yellow cards, U.S. coach Jill Ellis altered the team's attacking strategy in what proved to be a pivotal move that would guide them the rest of the tournament. The Americans dominated play for much of the game and finally broke through with a goal shortly after halftime. A beautiful ball from Julie Johnston was headed in by Lloyd and the U.S. defense would take care of the rest. On to the semis.
June 30, 2015- Semifinals vs. Germany
This game was more back and forth than any of the others that the United States had played during the World Cup which came as little surprise considering the teams were ranked 1st and 2nd in the world. The moment that changed the game came in the 59th minute when Germany was awarded a penalty kick after Johnston made a tackle inside the box. The Germans leading scorer, Celia Sasic, took the penalty but would miss the net to Solo's right. Less than ten minutes later it was the Americans turn to receive a penalty kick after Alex Morgan was taken down heading into the box. Once again it would be Lloyd taking the kick and once again she would not miss. The U.S. would add a second goal in the final minutes to seal the win, a beautiful finish by Kelley O'Hara on an equally impressive assist from, you guessed it, Lloyd.
July 5, 2015- World Cup Final vs. Japan
This was the rematch that the U.S. women wanted after being beaten by Japan in the 2011 World Cup final, and the American ladies didn't wait long to exact their revenge. Carli Lloyd capped off her impressive tournament with a hat trick in the first 16 minutes as the U.S. steamrolled Japan 5-2. Instead of giving you a play-by-play, just watch the video below. It's a lot more fun that way.
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