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W&M's own Jill Ellis '88 coaches U.S. team to World Cup championship

By staff July 5, 2015
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Tribe Pride U.S coach Jill Ellis '88 was the team's guiding light, leading the Americans to a convincing 5-2 win over Japan and the women's World Cup championship. Photo courtesy Tribe Athletics.

The United States women's soccer team, coached by William & Mary alumna Jill Ellis '88, captured its first FIFA World Cup title in 16 years Sunday night. The Americans defeated Japan, 5-2, at the BC Place in Vancouver. It was the highest-scoring final in women's World Cup history.

Carli Lloyd, a 32-year-old midfielder, scored three goals in the first 16 minutes of play to stake the U.S. to a lead they wouldn't come close to losing. Fellow midfielder Lauren Holiday added a first-half goal as the Americans raced to a shocking 4-0 lead.

Japan trimmed its deficit to 4-2 in the second half — the second goal coming when American Julie Johnston headed the ball into her own goal. But the U.S. quickly negated that mistake with a goal by Tobin Heath a mere two minutes after Japan's second strike.

As the game's final minutes wound down, Ellis, who graduated from William & Mary in 1988 with her undergraduate degree in English, stood on the sidelines, arm in arm with her assistant coaches and reserve players. When it was over, she shook both fists jubilantly over her head then jumped into the air as she made her way onto the field to embrace her players.

The game was a rematch of the 2011 finals. The Americans dominated play that night, but lost on penalty kicks. This game was predicted to be every bit as close, but Lloyd had other ideas.

With the game barely three minutes old. Lloyd cut in from the left side of the field to take Megan Rapinoe's corner kick and blasted it into the lower left corner of the net. Two minutes later, an American free kick bounced off Japan's defensive wall, to Lloyd. Her shot went between the legs of a Japanese defender and into the right side of the goal, past Ayumi Kaihori.

Nine minutes later, a Japanese defender tried to head a pass into the goal area deep ball by Heath. Instead, the ball flew straight into the air where an alert Holiday sent it past a befuddled Kaihori.

Finally, from near midfield, Lloyd caught Kaihori way out of the box and upfield. She lobbed a shot deep and over the player's head. Kaihori got a hand on the ball, but it caromed off the post and into the net to complete the hat trick.