In the 59th minute of the semifinals of the World Cup on Tuesday, Germany’s Celia Sasic, one of the most prolific goal scorers in the history of women’s soccer, missed a penalty kick against the United States.
Even more stunning? Her shot wasn’t even on target.
Hope Solo guessed right, Sasic went left and the ball skirted harmlessly to the left of the goal post.
“That was huge,” U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It could have went either way. And if they would have scored that, we would have had to come out and grind the remainder of that game. Then we got our opportunity and we took it.”
Less than 10 minutes later, Alex Morgan was taken down in the box – or at least on the cusp of the box – and the Americans were awarded a PK of their own.
“Honestly, I just saw Alex go down and I didn’t see exactly where it was,” Lloyd said. “I knew that I was the person who was going to take a PK if we got one in the game. So I didn’t really care what it was, where the spot was. I did go over to Alex briefly and make sure she was okay. And then after that, it was pure focus on what I needed to do. I just went, picked up the ball, put it down at the spot and made sure for that entire time I was waiting, I was fully focused on that ball.”
Lloyd, completely in the zone, drilled the shot, going right when German goalie Nadine Angerer guessed left.
“Wasn’t even focused on the keeper,” Lloyd said. “I just knew that this was a pivotal moment that I’ve done before. I’ve trained it, I’ve practiced it and there was no doubt in my mind. I had full confidence that I was going to put it in the back of the net, and I knew my team was counting on that and I had to get it done.
Lloyd added an assist on a goal by Kelley O’Hara in the 85th minute to seal the deal and give the U.S. a 2-0 win, as the Americans are back in the final for a second straight World Cup.
Lloyd, however, isn’t satisfied.
“I came here to win a World Cup and my teammates did as well,” she said. “You can’t get wrapped up too much in what we have done prior to this. Because at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is winning that final. After we do that, we can enjoy everything and really kind of take it in. But when you’re here in the moment, you’re not really soaking everything in to the full effect because you’re zoned in and focused.”
The Americans will once again face Japan in the final, marking a rematch of the 2011 thriller that Japan won on PKs.
The U.S. is seeking its first World Cup title since 1999. The only player on the current roster to have won a World Cup is 40-year-old Christie Rampone.
Lloyd and the rest of her teammates want to know what that feels like.
“We all want that,” she said. “We’ve trained (for that). Everybody in the soccer world has eyes on us. Winning that would seriously be a dream come true.”