The United States Women’s National Team came to Germany with one goal – win the Women’s World Cup. Nothing less will be seen as success. After beating France 3-1, the American team will get their chance to realize their ambition against Japan in the final. In the wake of their breathtaking victory against Brazil in the quarterfinals, backing it up by rising to the challenge when needed against France, the Women’s National Team has morphed from a niche interest to national heroes.
There was some concern that Team USA might either have an emotional letdown after their stirring win against Brazil or simply be exhausted from the long match. While fatigue was likely to show late in the match, any notion of an emotional letdown was dispelled early when Carli Lloyd sent a deft back heel pass to Heather O’Reilly down the left side. O’Reilly centered to Lauren Cheney who sent a left footed shot to the far post and in for quick goal in the 9th minute to give the American side a 1-0 early advantage.
France was getting chances on goal in the first half, but USA goaltender Hope Solo was up to the challenge. The star American net-minder had several good saves, including a tip over the crossbar on an attempt by France’s Louisa Necib in the 7th minute and deflecting a shot from just outside the box on the near post side by Gaetane Thiney. But in the second half, the usually sure footed Solo had a few lapses. In the 55th minute, Sonia Bompastor, who had been unlucky in the first half on a shot that hit the crossbar, floated in a long range shot past the American goaltender to level the score 1-1. There was a crossing player for France that looked to have a shot at a header on Bompastor’s shot. That might have been why Solo had to hold her line. By the time she moved left to the far post, it was too late.
France had tasted success and they wanted more. They attacked and outplayed Team USA for the first two thirds of the second half. The pressure was on the Americans and their goaltender. Hope Solo even gave the ball up in her own box and nearly paid for it. But she is now 94-6 in 100 caps, with 55 shutouts. That didn’t happen by accident. The US defense stiffened and Solo was good enough for long enough until the magic struck again.
It would be their superstar Abby Wambach, the hero of the Brazil game, that again would shine brightly for the US squad. On a corner kick in the 79th minute, Lauren Cheney floated a ball to the back post where Wambach soared over the French defenders to score on a header, electrifying American fans around the world and shocking Les Bleus.
Stunned and reeling after dominating most of the second half, the French team let young American star Alex Morgan charge the box on the left side right past four French defenders to score another goal just three minutes after Wambach’s to seal the deal in the 82nd minute for the United States at 3-1. The 22 year old Morgan looks to be a star for a couple more World Cups. But that is a discussion for the future. Today, the United States is on their way to their third Women’s World Cup final with only one goal. Win it all.