In the Women's World Cup third-place game, England took care of business in a 1-0 extra-time win over Germany to end its run on a high note and post its best result in this tournament.
Coming into the game, ESPN's Paul Carr noted that England has never had success against Germany:
Paul Carr @PCarrESPN
#GER-#ENG in the Women's World Cup third-place match at 4 ET. Germany has never lost in 20 games vs England (18-0-2).2015-7-4 19:31:03
Making matters worse, OptaJoe tweeted that England had never found the net against Germany in two previous World Cup matches:
0 - England haven't scored against Germany in two WWC matches (0-3 loss in 1995, 0-0 draw in 2007). Blanks.2015-7-4 18:58:43
England manager Mark Sampson told reporters coming into the game that this group has already achieved so much compared to the country's history in World Cups.
"There's only one English team that's finished higher than third, we're determined to join that club," Sampson said, per Greg Price of the International Business Times. "There's only us and the 1966 [men's] team that have won as many games at World Cups—it's an incredible achievement."
That falls in line with something that England players were using as motivation prior to the start of this game, via BBC Sport:
BBC Sport @BBCSport
The England players have been tweeting this photo ahead of #GERENG later. Match preview: http://t.co/3lAUo9WOmH http://t.co/TNyolmZjVF2015-7-4 17:00:15
The two teams finished regulation in a scoreless tie and maintained that pace until Fara Williams finally broke through with a penalty kick in the 108th minute.
Per Carr, the goal for Williams also put her in exclusive company at the World Cup:
Germany was the better side early on, but as Bleacher Report's Andrew Gibney opined at half-time, England grew into the game and eventually matched Germany's intensity and physical play:
Andrew Gibney @Gibney_A
HT #GER 0-0 #ENG pretty even. Neid's side started much better, but the #Lionesses are using their physicality to get into it. #fifawwc2015-7-4 20:49:16
That intensity came into play down the stretch, as England created some huge late opportunities. But Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer made the required saves and kept the Three Lionesses at bay.
England defender Laura Bassett was one player who needed a good game after her heartbreaking own goal in the dying seconds of her team's semifinal match against Japan. As noted by OptaJoe, Bassett rebounded Saturday and was practically mistake-free in the first half:
100 - Laura Bassett had 100% passing accuracy in the 1st half against Germany, completing all 20 passes attempted. Exemplary.2015-7-4 20:51:59
But the star of the show for England was Steph Houghton. The central defender made several key interceptions and clearances to preserve the clean sheet, including this incredible stop on Germany's first great scoring chance, via BBC Sport:
BBC Sport @BBCSport
Steph Houghton clears off the line with 9 minutes gone - super last-ditch defending from the #ENG skipper. #Lionesses http://t.co/9sOjBUIbpZ2015-7-4 20:10:02
This was a huge steppingstone win for England's women. The national squad led by Sampson has been building to this kind of moment for a long time, making it to the quarterfinals in 2007 and 2011. One wrong bounce in the semifinal is all that kept it out of the title game.
Having finally finished in the top three and conquering Germany in the process proves that England is on the right track and will be a force in the years to come. For now, though, it's time to let the women on this roster celebrate their moment.