The wait is over. After 16 years, the U.S. women's national team is back on top of the world.
Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick in the opening 16 minutes, and the U.S. women rolled to a 5-2 win over Japan in the 2015 Women's World Cup final in front of 53,341 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, capturing a record third World Cup title.
Lloyd stunned Japan and put the Americans up by a pair within the opening five minutes, scoring off of two corner kicks. In the third minute, she met Megan Rapinoe's low drive in stride and electrified the pro-USA crowd with a one-timed effort. A couple of minutes later, she was first to Julie Johnston's flick-on and scored from close range.
The onslaught didn't stop there. In the 14th minute, Lauren Holiday pounced on a failed clearance, expertly volleying home a ball that popped straight in the air. Then Lloyd capped her hat trick two minutes later, catching goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori off her line and chipping from the center circle. Japan pulled one back through Yuki Ogimi in the 27th minute, though, ending the USA's shutout streak at 540 minutes.
Things got slightly more interesting in the 52nd minute, when Johnston inadvertently flicked a Japan free kick back and into her own net to make it 4-2. The USA answered right away, though, as Tobin Heath redirected a Morgan Brian cross in after another Rapinoe corner kick to restore the three-goal edge in the 54th minute.
Abby Wambach, who has said that this will be her final World Cup, came on as a substitute for Heath in the 79th minute, inheriting the captain's armband from Lloyd for the closing minutes. Barring a change of heart, she ends her Women's World Cup career tied for the second-most goals in tournament history (14), trailing Brazil's Marta by one.
Regular USA captain Christie Rampone, the last remaining link to the USA's 1999 champions, replaced Alex Morgan in the 86th minute, with the 40-year-old on for the final minutes to enjoy in the championship moment. Wambach and Rampone lifted the World Cup trophy together after being presented the hardware by FIFA vice president Issa Hayatou.
The match marked the third straight major final between the new nations. Japan beat the USA in penalties in the 2011 Women's World Cup final only to be upended by the Americans in the 2012 Olympic gold medal game.
Here's how the improbable final unfolded, minute by minute:
DEFENDERS: Lori Chalupny (Chicago Red Stars), Whitney Engen (Western NY Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Houston Dash), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS: Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
GOALKEEPERS: 1-Miho Fukumoto (Okayama Yunogo Belle), 18-Ayumi Kaihori (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 21-Erina Yamane (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies)
DEFENDERS: 2-Yukari Kinga (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 3-Azusa Iwashimizu (NTV Beleza), 4-Saki Kumagai (Olympique Lyonnais), 5-Aya Sameshima (InAC Kobe Leonssa), 12-Megumi Kamionobe (Albirex niigata Ladies), 19-Saori Ariyoshi (NTV Beleza), 20-Yuri Kawamura (Vegalta Sendai Ladies), 23-Kana Kitahara (Albirex niigata Ladies)
MIDFIELDERS: 6-Mizuho Sakaguchi (NTV Beleza), 7-Kozue Ando (1. FFC Frankfurt), 8-Aya Miyama (Okayama Yunogo Belle), 9-Nahomi Kawasumi (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 10-Homare Sawa (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 13-Rumi Utsugi (Montpellier HSC), 14-Asuna Takana (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 22-Asano Nagasato (FFC Turbine Potsdam)
FORWARDS: 11-Shinobu Ohno (InAC Kobe Leonessa), 15-Yuika Sugasawa (JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies), 16-Mana Iwabuchi (FC Bayern Munich), 17-Yuki Ogimi (VfL Wolfsburg)