Carli Lloyd scored with a shot from the halfway line as she led the U.S. to a record third title at soccer’s Women’s World Cup.
Lloyd’s three goals in the first 16 minutes of Sunday’s final in Vancouver helped the U.S. to a 5-2 win over defending champion Japan. Lauren Holiday and Tobin Heath also scored last night at BC Place Stadium for the Americans, who also won the title in 1991 and 1999.
Lloyd, 32, won the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament after the first three-goal performance in a Women’s World Cup final. She’s the second American to claim the award after Carin Jennings at the 1991 edition. Lloyd said she’d envisaged during training that she’d score four goals in the final.
“Sounds pretty funny, but that’s what it’s all about,” Lloyd, a two-time Olympic champion who plays for the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League, told reporters. “I’ve just been constantly visualizing, constantly been growing confidence with these games, with each and every game. I was on a mission today.”
Lloyd’s goals tied her with Celia Sasic of Germany for the most at the tournament, with six apiece. Sasic, 27, took the Golden Boot award as top scorer on a tiebreaker.
Even though she began the final as team captain, Lloyd didn’t lift the trophy. She passed the honor to 35-year-old Abby Wambach, the U.S. women’s career scoring leader, and Christie Rampone, who at 40 is the oldest player to appear in a Women’s World Cup.
Lloyd handed the captain’s armband to Wambach when she joined the game as a substitute for Heath in the 79th minute, while Rampone took to the field in the 86th minute.
New Jersey-born Lloyd scored June 30 in a 2-0 victory for the second-ranked Americans over Germany in the semifinals and got the only goal in a 1-0 win against China in the quarterfinals.
Lloyd also scored two goals to lead the U.S. to a 2-1 to victory over Japan in the gold medal match at the 2012 Olympics in London.
“Ms. Lloyd, she always does this to us,” Japan coach Norio Sasaki told reporters. “We’re a bit embarrassed.”
Lloyd opened the scoring in the third minute of the final, turning in a low corner kick with a left-footed shot. Two minutes later she made it 2-0 with a right-footed shot and punctuated the performance with a shot from the center circle in the 16th minute that left Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori scrambling back in a failed attempt to keep the ball from dropping into the net.
“I’ve dreamed of scoring a shot like that,” Lloyd told reporters. “Very rarely do you just wind up and hit it. When you’re feeling good mentally and physically those plays just are instincts and it just happens.”
(An earlier version of this story corrected the fastest hat trick to the first hat trick in World Cup final history.)