It was Carli Lloyd, Carli Lloyd and Carli Lloyd! The 33 year-old midfielder put the ball in the goal three times in the first 16 minutes as the U.S. beat Japan 5-2, to win the Women's World Cup. Lloyd's three goals made her the first woman to score a hatrick in a World Cup Final.

She also scored the fastest goal in a World Cup Final ever, scoring her first goal via a slice from a corner kick in the third minute of the contest. Lloyd delivered all three of her goals in the first 16 minutes, in front of 53,000 people at BC Place Stadium in Vancouver.

Two minutes after scoring the first goal, Lloyd received a pass from Julie Johnston and slammed a goal between the legs of a Japanese defender.

For her final goal, Lloyd boldly shot from the half way line, past Japanese goalie Ayumi Kaihori, who was caught off guard. The defensive goalie reached lamely with her hand but the shot caromed off the post and into the net.

"When you're feeling good mentally and physically, those plays are just instincts. It just happens," she said after the game, according to the New York Times. She was so in the zone, she said, "I feel like I just blacked out for the first 30 minutes or so". Lloyd was awarded the "Golden Ball" as the World Cup's most outstanding player.

The victory will have been particularly sweet for Lloyd, who a few weeks ago was criticized by Pia Sundage, who coached the 2011 U.S. World Cup team and the 2008 and 2012 teams.



In an interview with the Times, Sundage said Lloyd was a "challenge" to coach.

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"When she felt we had faith in her, she could be one of the best players," Sundage said. However, if Lloyd questioned that faith, "She could be one of the worst," Sundage told the Times. Lloyd called the comments untrue, and Sundage backpedalled, saying Lloyd was "one of the most important players I've ever had."

If Sundage lacked faith in Lloyd, the current coach, Jill Ellis clearly had faith. That faith was amply rewarded on Sunday.

After the U.S. won the World Cup, Lloyd said, "It's a surreal moment. It's been amazing. We just wrote history today and brought the World Cup trophy home, which is unbelievable", according to NBC Sports.

Writing for SB Nation, Kevin McCauley offered a critical analysis of Lloyd. "There is no cross-sport comparison for Lloyd. She's one of the strangest professional athletes the world has ever produced," he wrote. According to McCauley, Lloyd typically spends most of a game hurting her team, before scoring a stunning goal or providing a critical assist. This has happened so many times it cannot be luck, McCauley says.

"Five different national team managers have kept her in the lineup not in hope that she'll produce in big moments, but knowing that she will. She always does," McCauley wrote.

But this time, Lloyd did not spend 65 minutes turning over the ball. Instead she scored three goals in the first half and became hands-down the Hero of Women's Soccer.