Carli Lloyd was on a mission.
It was her goal to help her team bring the World Cup trophy to the United States for the first time in 16 years.
Japan stood in her way, but it never stood a chance as the Americans’ No. 10 stung quickly and often to guide the United States to a record third Women’s World Cup.
The United States’ 5-2 victory Sunday over the defending champion in Vancouver, British Columbia, gave the Americans their first opportunity to lift the World Cup trophy since 1999.
Lloyd scored three times, the first hat-trick in a women’s final, to lead the United States, which also won the World Cup in 1991.
“I’m so proud and so zapped at the same time,” Lloyd said. ” It doesn’t feel real. We just made history.”
Lloyd indeed was the star of stars Sunday, and throughout the tournament. On Sunday, she scored in the third, fifth and 16th minutes of play, leaving the 2011 champions stunned.
It should be impossible to score from that far. But as 53,341 fans watched the ball sailing through the air, Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori desperately retreated and stabbed at the ball. Even the post couldn’t deny Lloyd her history and the ball danced across the line.
There were still some 74 minutes left, and the pro-U.S. crowd was dancing as if it were over.
It essentially was over — even though Japan toughed it out until the final whistles.