For the first time since the United States Women’s National Team played Norway at Lockhart Stadium in 2000, the National Team was back in South Florida playing at the newly-built FAU Stadium, a stadium that was only a dream 12 years ago.
In a historic night at FAU Stadium, the United States Women’s National Team defeated China PR on a final score of 4-1 as the 2012 London Olympic gold medalists finished the year with an impressive 28-1-3 record.
The crowd of 10,493 at FAU was energetic from the start as they knew they were in for a treat in the final match for the United States Women’s National Team in 2012.
The US started threatening early in the 8th minute when Megan Rapinoe’s corner found Shannon Box in the penalty area. However, Boxx did not strike the ball too well and the ball flew wide left.
In the 11th minute, on a throw in, Alex Morgan broke away from the pack and headed towards the goal, her 14 yard volley missed the goal wide to the right.
Left back Kelley O’Hara took a throw-in on the left sideline in the attacking third. Megan Rapinoe touched the ball back to O’Hara, who flicked it into the box to Morgan. The forward fended off a couple of China defenders before looping a short, but high cross with the outside of her left foot toward Wambach. As she had done 61 times previously, Wambach scored with her head, placing her diving six-yard shot perfectly just inside the left post.
In the 36th Minute, Megan Rapinoe intercepted a pass by keeper Wang Fei and scored a 42 yard goal. Chinese defender Huanh Yini lost track of where she was and passed the ball back to Fei who without looking passed to Rapinoe who found the back of the net.
“It was a beautiful pass by the keeper,” said Rapinoe jokingly after the match. “I think she wanted me to kick it.”
The Chinese did not go away though, in the 45th minute, Li Ying saw an open Han Peng who had a beautiful cutback that left defender Amy LePeilbet on the ground. Peng smashed a left footed shot into the corner of the goal and keeper Hope Solo had no shot in defending it.
China’s goal snapped a 409-minute shutout streak by the USA defense, which had previously not allowed a goal since a 2-2 draw against Germany on Oct. 23.
Then, in the 64th minute, history was made in Boca Raton as Rapinoe sent in one of her trademark bending crosses from the left wing that settled perfectly onto Wambach’s head.
Wambach fought through two China defenders for the header that clanged off the right post and bounced just over crossed the goal line. It was the 63rd header goal of her career.
The goal not only made the score 3-1 in favor of the United States but it also gave Abby Wambach her 152nd career goal in 191 caps for the Women’s National Team putting her just six goal behind soccer legend Mia Hamm for the all-time lead.
With the goal, Wambach and Morgan have combined for 55 goals in 2012 – a tie for most goals of any duo in U.S. WNT history. Michelle Akers (39 goals) and Carin Jennings-Cabarra (16) set the record of 55 goals back in 1991 and now Morgan (28) and Wambach (27) are tied for that honor.
“I’m really not someone to talk about record, ever,” said Wambach after the game. “But this record that Alex and I tied today is something I’m very proud of.”
“When Alex scores, it lights something inside me, and when I score it lights something inside her,” explained Wambach. “We have a really healthy competitiveness and having this shared record with those two icons [Akers and Jennings-Cabarra] is something I am really proud of.”
“It’s amazing to tie that record,” said Alex Morgan after the game. “I’m really proud of Abby, and I’m really excited that we are both together in this.”
“Abby and I have something unique,” explained Morgan. “We just get each other and are always on the same page. It’s a healthy relationship.”
The USA’s youngest player set a team record for most goals as a reserve in a single year.
The goal came when Lloyd played a nice ball down the right wing to Tobin Heath, who then played a pass back to defender Heather Mitts who chipped a cross in from the right side of the box.
Leroux cut in front of a defender to power home her header from close range and into the lower right corner.
Boca Raton had the privilege to host the final game of the sensation 2012 season for the Women’s National Team. Players were also glad to be back, former player/coach for the magicJack, Abby Wambach had nothing but praises for the fans, “What a great crowd, you never know what you miss until you come after a long absence.”
“The crowd was terrific tonight,” said Alex Morgan. “They were very energetic, and it’s great to see them continue to support us. That’s what the victory tour is for us, giving back to our fans.”