Abby Wambach has long been considered one of the best female soccer players ever, but she now has the record to back that up.
With her third score in the first half against South Korea, the star forward tallied the 159th goal of her career with the United States women's national team, officially passing Mia Hamm for the most in international history (she added her 160th before halftime).
Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl had the news:
HISTORY MADE. Abby Wambach scores her 159th international goal, breaking Mia Hamm’s all-time record. 1st-half hat trick seals it.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 21, 2013
In addition to being the all-time scoring leader among American women, Wambach is also the all-time American scoring leader across both genders. She is well ahead of the 49 career goals scored by men's leader Landon Donovan.
Wambach has also shattered the all-time men's record in general, as Iran's Ali Daei netted 109 goals from 1993 through 2006.
Hamm is known as one of the pioneers of the sport for the United States as a member of both the 1991 and 1999 World Cup champion teams. She was only 15 years old when she joined the squad and made a total of 275 appearances, scoring 158 goals in that time.
Hamm released a statement which can be seen here on the historic moment.
As good as she was, Wambach now has the historic record.
Even President Barack Obama congratulated Wambach on her remarkable achievement:
Since netting her first goal in 2002 against Finland, the New York native continued to score at an incredible rate. It took just over seven years to reach 100, and she continued to kick and head more into the net over the years.
Who is the best female soccer player in U.S. history?
She has also helped the United States achieve a great deal of team success, including gold-medal finishes in the 2004 and 2012 Olympics; she missed out on the team's 2008 gold-medal triumph due to a broken leg suffered just before the Games.
The squad narrowly missed out on a 2011 World Cup title by losing to Japan in the final on penalty kicks.
Still, Wambach's individual and team accomplishments helped her to be named the 2012 FIFA Women's Player of the Year, becoming the first American to win the award since Hamm in 2002.
The connection between the two players does not end there. As part of a #ChasingMia campaign that followed Wambach's quest to break the record, USSoccer.com showed an interview with the two athletes discussing the admiration they have for each other:
Both athletes have contributed to the rise of the sport's popularity not just in America, but worldwide. Women's soccer has grown significantly in the past decade, and it will only get bigger as more countries get involved.
Hamm has passed the torch to Wambach as the sport's ambassador, and someday, the superstar will pass it on to a younger player like fellow forward Alex Morgan.
Until then, Wambach has secured her place among the best female athletes in history with this impressive accomplishment.
Click here to read B/R's recent interview with Wambach.