Scoring a hat trick in a World Cup final tends to earn you a number of plaudits. Carli Lloyd parlayed her three goals in the United States' 5-2 victory over Japan on Sunday into the 2015 Women's World Cup Golden Ball, given to the best player of the tournament.
The U.S. women's national team tweeted the news:
U.S. Soccer WNT @ussoccer_wnt
.@CarliLloyd 6 goals, 1 assist and one amazing World Cup. Your Golden Ball Winner for best player at the @FIFAWWC http://t.co/14b8MLuNbu7/6/2015, 1:06:27 AM
Following the match, she kept the focus on her team, saying, per Nancy Armour of USA Today: "Unbelievable group. Collectively unbelievable. So happy and so proud."
Lloyd and the United States got off to a dream start in the final. The 32-year-old scored her third goal in the 16th minute of the game, which gave the USWNT a 4-0 lead. ESPN Stats & Info's Paul Carr provided the historical significance of her performance:
Paul Carr @PCarrESPN
Carli Lloyd's hat trick is the earliest ever in a WWC match (16') & the 3rd-fastest at the WWC (13-minute span). #USA7/5/2015, 11:27:29 PM
Lloyd's third goal will be the one fans remember most. She decided to attempt an audacious effort from the halfway line. A helpless Ayumi Kaihori tried and failed to knock the ball away, and it settled into the back of the net, as illustrated by the Huffington Post:
HuffPost Sports @HuffPostSports
CARLI LLOYD MAKES IT 4-0 #USA! She scores from MIDFIELD to score a hat-trick in the first 15 FREAKING MINUTES https://t.co/hfvGIIMbjA7/5/2015, 11:17:09 PM
Another lasting image from the game was Lloyd handing the captain's armband over to Abby Wambach after the 35-year-old entered in the 79th minute. Wambach tried so hard to win a Women's World Cup in the past, and she ended her national team career on a high note, if this was in fact her last match.
The importance of the armband swap wasn't lost on Landon Donovan:
Landon Donovan @landondonovan
My favorite @CarliLloyd moment of the match was her giving the armband to Abby when she came on. Pure class. #CarliForPresident7/6/2015, 12:39:19 AM
All in all, Lloyd's hat trick will enter the pantheon of all-time great moments in American sports history. An entire generation of female soccer players will strive to match her legacy, as this tweet from Bill Simmons will attest:
Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
Need more TV talk on Carli's performance. My daughter went into WC wanting to be the next Abby & finished it wanting to be the next Carli.7/6/2015, 1:07:36 AM
Lloyd also caught the attention of President Barack Obama:
President Obama @POTUS44
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.7/6/2015, 1:01:08 AM
ESPN's J.A. Adande joked that Lloyd should have her own White House aspirations after the final:
J.A. Adande @jadande
Carli Lloyd's next move should be to form a presidential campaign committee7/6/2015, 12:51:42 AM
United States supporters won't soon forget Lloyd's contributions. Getting a hat trick by itself is impressive enough. To accomplish it in the first 16 minutes of a game is nearly impossible.
Hopefully she'll carry that form over to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, where the Americans will enter as defending gold medalists.