After suffering a painful loss at the hands of the Japanese women’s soccer team just one year earlier at the Women’s World Cup, Alex Morgan and the U.S. were undoubtedly eager for a chance at revenge at the London Olympics.
With a 2-1 win over Japan on Thursday, the U.S. got its revenge.
Cal legend and megababe Alex Morgan was fashioned as one of the potential breakout stars before the commencement of the Olympics, and she gave little reason to believe the hype was undeserved. Whether the Americans were taking on New Zealand or Canada, Morgan looked like the most skilled player on the field. Her long runs, well-placed crosses, and ability to take defenders one-on-one were reminiscent of Portugese striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
Both Japan and the U.S. went undefeated in group stages and won their respective quarterfinal and semifinal matchups to solidify a finals rematch between the undisputed top two women’s soccer teams on the strange planet of Earth.
Morgan did not disappoint in the gold medal match. An early chip into the box found Carli Lloyd for the first goal of the game in the eighth minute, giving the U.S. a crucial early advantage that would not be relinquished.
Another goal by Lloyd and some brave goalkeeping on the part of Hope Solo were enough for the Americans to fend off a furious Japanese attack in the second half, and the U.S won the gold medal by a final score of 2-1.
Morgan leaves the Olympics as not only as an established superstar but a national icon. Her dramatic header in the 123rd minute of the semifinal against Canada that put the Americans up 4-3 was one of the defining highlights for the U.S. Morgan will go down as an Olympic hero, remembered for generations as a key to the team’s fantastic run en route to a gold medal.
Morgan wasn’t the only Cal athlete to win a gold medal Thursday. Heather Petri and Elsie Windes competed for the U.S. women’s water polo team, which won its first gold medal in the final against the women of Spain.
Former Cal track star Alysia Montano ran for the U.S. in the 800 meter semis, finishing fourth in her heat. She will run in Saturday’s final.