Carli Lloyd came up big again. Three times.
And with it came the Americans’ third Women’s World Cup title.
Lloyd scored three times as the U.S. burst to a four-goal lead in the first 16 minutes, and the Americans overwhelmed defending champion Japan, 5-2, Sunday for their record third championship and first since 1999.
A sellout crowd that included Vice President Biden roared in approval for Lloyd’s hat trick, the first ever in a Women’s World Cup final.
“I was just on a mission,” Lloyd said. “I was on a mission to help my team win this game.”
When it was over, Lloyd collapsed to her knees and pumped her fists. Forward Abby Wambach bear-hugged teary-eyed coach Jill Ellis, lifting her off the ground.
Lloyd, voted the Golden Ball as player of the tournament, scored twice in a span of about 135 seconds as the U.S. led 2-0 by the fifth minute.
Lauren Holiday boosted the lead in the 14th, and two minutes later Lloyd made it 4-0 with a 54-yard, right-footed shot from midfield that sailed over goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori.
Japan closed on Yuki Ogimi’s goal in the 27th and an own goal by Julie Johnston in the 52nd. Tobin Heath scored two minutes later for the Americans, who had struggled in the World Cup since winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 and then again at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, eight years later.
Christie Rampone, the only holdover from the 1999 team, lifted the trophy with Wambach, the 35-year-old former FIFA player of the year.
Hope Solo won the Golden Glove as top goalkeeper of the tournament.
Japan returned eight starters from the 2011 final, when it beat the U.S. on penalty kicks. The Americans, turning their roster over more, started just four of the 11 players who opened that game in Germany.
Lloyd, a 32-year-old midfielder, had come up big before, scoring the winning goals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic finals.
She put the U.S. team ahead in the third minute off a corner kick from Megan Rapinoe, then made it 2-0 when she poked the ball between two defenders and past Kaihori’s outstretched arms.
Lloyd’s third goal came when Kaihori came far off her line. The keeper backpedaled and got a hand on it, but it bounced into the goal.
“I called her my beast, and she is just a beast, man,” Ellis said. “She’s unbelievable. Rock star. Just so happy for her.”
It was also the fastest hat trick in World Cup history — men or women — and Lloyd became the first American since Michelle Akers in 1991 to score multiple goals in a World Cup final. The only other hat trick in a World Cup final was when England’s Geoff Hurst scored three times against Germany in the men’s 1966 final at Wembley.
“Miss Lloyd she always does this to us. In London she scored two goals and today she scored three goals. We are embarrassed,” said Japan coach Norio Sasaki. “But she is an excellent player, and I really respect her and admire her.”
Lloyd scored six goals in seven matches during the monthlong tournament, raising her international total to 69.
“Speechless. Honestly, I’m so proud of this team,” an emotional Lloyd said. “This doesn’t feel real. It hasn’t sunk in. So unbelievably proud of every single person on this team. We just made history.”