SPORTS

World Cup champ Carli Lloyd becomes new U.S. hero

Carli Lloyd after scoring her third goal against Japan in Vancouver, Canada, Sunday, July 5, 2015.

Carli Lloyd after scoring her third goal against Japan in Vancouver, Canada, Sunday, July 5, 2015.

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd wasn’t focusing on the devastating defeat four years ago when the U.S. women’s soccer team lost to Japan during the World Cup finals.

All she wanted was the gold.

“And we did that,” the New Jersey native told “Fox and Friends” on Monday morning. “We knew we wanted to come out of the gate fast and we knew we wanted to put them under pressure and score early, but to score three goals in the first 16 minutes was great – a credit to every player on this team of getting it done.”

Lloyd is being celebrated as the World Cup hero after she was awarded Golden Ball for being the best player in the tournament. Lloyd scored three goals in 16 minutes to lead the United States to a 5-2 victory over Japan for the team’s record World Cup title – and the first since 1999.

It was the fastest hat trick in World Cup history for men or women. Lloyd became the first American since Michelle Akers in 1991 to score multiple goals in a World Cup final. The only other hat trick in a World Cup final was when England's Geoff Hurst scored three times against Germany in the men's 1966 final at Wembley.

When it was over, the captain of the U.S. team collapsed to her knees and pumped her fists.

"I'm so proud and so zapped at the same time. It's a surreal moment," the 32-yard-old midfielder said. "It's been amazing. We just wrote history and brought this World Cup trophy home."

Even the actual President chimed in with congratulations.

"What a win for Team USA! Great game @CarliLloyd! Your country is so proud of all of you. Come visit the White House with the World Cup soon," President Barack Obama posted to Twitter.

While winning the last three Olympic gold medals, the U.S. had struggled in the World Cup since taking the title at the inaugural tournament in 1991, and then again at the Rose Bowl eight years later.

Christie Rampone, the only holdover from the 1999 team, lifted the trophy with Abby Wambach, the 35-year-old former FIFA Player of the Year who has said this will be her last World Cup. Wambach was among the most vocal opponents of FIFA's decision to play the tournament on artificial turf.

With FIFA President Sepp Blatter staying away from Canada during a U.S. criminal investigation of soccer corruption, the trophy was presented by FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, the head of African soccer's governing body.

Hope Solo won her second straight Golden Glove as top goalkeeper of the tournament. She played despite critics who urged the U.S. Soccer Federation to drop her after she initially faced two misdemeanor counts of domestic violence from a June 2014 altercation at her half-sister's house, charges that were dismissed earlier this year.

Solo, who hasn't spoken to the media for most of the tournament, proclaimed simply: "We did it! Awesome!"

She was later quoted by FIFA.com as saying: "It feels so good. It was incredible. This is surely the peak of my career."

The title, which adds a coveted third star to the American uniform, also vindicated the USSF for its decision in April 2014 to fire coach Tom Sermanni, who had replaced Pia Sundhage the previous year, and replace him with Ellis, the British-born American who had been an assistant on the coaching staff.

Lloyd had come up big before, scoring the winning goals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals.

The Golden Ball winner as player of the tournament, Lloyd scored twice in a span of about 135 seconds as the U.S. led 2-0 by the fifth minute.

"Miss Lloyd she always does this to us. In London she scored 2 goals and today she scored 3 goals. We are embarrassed," Japan coach Norio Sasaki said. "But she is an excellent player and I really respect her and admire her."

Lloyd scored six goals in seven matches during the monthlong tournament, including in every U.S. game of the knockout phase. She raised her international goals total to 69 and joined Carin Jennings in 1991 as the only Americans to win the Golden Ball.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in (yet),” said Lloyd about winning the World Cup. “I’ve been quietly flying under the radar, being on this team over years, and I love to perform at the biggest stage.

Includes reporting by The Associated Press.

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