Originally posted on Philly Sports Live  |  Last updated 8/12/12

The USWNT claimed the gold medal in a hard fought nail biting battle against Japan. Winning 2-1 in regulation as the US Women earned their fourth gold medal out of the five times women’s soccer was offered as an Olympic sport. Local girl Carli Lloyd was the hero for the Americans netting both goals. This was a remarkable feat for the US; they showed great grit, poise and heart to beat the Japanese.

The US came off a dramatic extra time victory against the Canadian national team and questions were asked about how fresh the US would be. The US pushed the tempo early and were able to grab a goal in the 8th minute, when Carli Lloyd got her head on the end of an Alex Morgan cross. Fitness and fatigue started to become a factor later on in the first half as the US looked exhausted. They had an inability to hold possession. Japan started to get in a rhythm and create scoring opportunities. The post and Hope Solo came up with a number of big saves. The US were truly luckily to walk in at the half with the lead.

With Japan’s confidence rising, the US entered the second half with a daunting task before them. Carli Lloyd rose to the occasion once again and scored a stunning goal from 25 yards out to put the US up 2-0. The Japanese didn’t go away though, they answered back with a goal in the 63rd minute. Japan continued to apply pressure and try and wear down the fatigued Americans. Time and time again they continued to create havoc for the US defense but the defense answered the call. Hope Solo made a handful of astonishing saves and when she couldn’t the defense was there to clear the ball off the line. When the whistle blew for full time an explosion of sheer jubilation erupted.

This was a complete team victory, everyone played a part. The ladies showed great teamwork when covering for each other supporting each other and stepping up. It was a spectacular sight seeing players like Tobin Heath dropping back in defense or 37 year old Christie Rampone making darting runs into the attacking third. Teamwork, heart and a great game plan prevailed this team to greatness. Pia Sundhage set up a game plan and had substitutions at the right moments to ensure the gold.

Pia’s best move perhaps was the handling of Shannon Boxx who started in the first game but was taken off in the 17th minute due to injury. Boxx was sidelined till the final. It was a gutsy call playing her not knowing if she could go the full 90. Not to mention if the addition of a player would mess up the flow team established. Boxx’s edition to the lineup had no hindrance what so ever. She shifted to a holding midfield position which allowed Carli Lloyd to become more attack minded.

Abby Wambach is the unequivocal team leader and claimed that she should would do anything for an Olympic gold. Abby did just that, she may not have scored in the final but she kept the team together and gave it her all. Abby would drop deep into the midfield and get the ball herself when the US was struggling for possession. She got what she came for and in the process staked her claim as an all-time great. Her 5 goals in 6 matches in a major tournament is a remarkable performance. Abby has always performed and delivered for the national team but after winning in 2004 Olympics she missed 08 because of injury and has yet to win a world cup.

Abby will get to celebrate her Olympic accomplishments in front of her home town, of Rochester New York where the USWNT will take on the Costa Rican national team on September 1st. After Rochester they head out to Carson California for a matchup against Australia on the 16th.

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