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U.S. women's soccer team has strong Philly ties

Fans cheered at major-league baseball stadiums when the result of the game was announced on Sunday. Famous actors and singers and football stars tweeted and blogged in gushes about their new heroes.

Carli Lloyd (left) is a graduate of Delran High. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)
Carli Lloyd (left) is a graduate of Delran High. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)Read more

Fans cheered at major-league baseball stadiums when the result of the game was announced on Sunday. Famous actors and singers and football stars tweeted and blogged in gushes about their new heroes.

And soccer fans from the Philadelphia region cheered right along with the rest of the nation.

The U.S. women's World Cup team captured the attention of America by toppling mighty Brazil in a quarterfinal penalty shootout, and nine members of the team have connections to the Philadelphia region.

"It's overwhelming. It's amazing," midfielder Carli Lloyd told the Associated Press on Monday.

Lloyd, a graduate of Delran High School, said she is amazed at the "buzz back home."

"It's awesome," she said, "and I think it's helping women's soccer. This could be a huge turning point for the growth of soccer back home, and that's what we're trying to do and trying to accomplish.

"Hopefully, as an added bonus, we come back with the Cup."

In addition to Lloyd's local connection, U.S. team defender Ali Krieger played at Penn State. Midfielder Lori Lindsey, forward Amy Rodriguez and goalie Nicole Barnhart play for the WPL's Independence. Goalie Jill Loyden is from Vineland, and defender Heather Mitts played for the Independence last season and is now with Atlanta.

U.S. team assistant coach Erica Walsh, the women's head coach at Penn State, is a graduate of Lower Moreland High School, and midfielder Megan Rapinoe was with the Indepdence until being traded in June to magicjack.

Thanks to Sunday's victory, the United States team will play France in the semifinals on Wednesday. The Americans will advance to play either Japan or Sweden in Sunday's final if they win. They have a shot to become the first team to win three Women's World Cup titles.

"We're participating in something that's huge," Abby Wambach said Sunday. "Very few times does the spotlight shine so bright on women's soccer."

It just so happened that Lloyd, Krieger and Rapinoe set up Wambach with the dramatic tying goal, and Krieger supplied the winning shootout goal.

Lloyd, who had four shots on goal Sunday, and Krieger played the entire 120-plus minutes.

Trailing by 2-1 and down a player due to an ejection in the 66th minute, the U.S. team had the length of the field to string together a miracle during stoppage time in overtime.

Christie Rampone, the only player remaining from the 1999 U.S. team, forced a Brazil attacker into a bad pass that Krieger intercepted and carried upfield. Krieger played the ball to Lloyd, who staved off a charging Brazilian before laying it off to Rapinoe.

Rapinoe placed one perfect lead touch on the ball to herself, gliding down the left side. About 30 yards away from the goal, with about 30 seconds of hope remaining, Rapinoe planted her right foot, swung her left foot under the ball directing it high into the box, and toward the far post.

Brazil defender Daiane backpedaled, but the ball soared, so she jumped back, trying anything to stop the U.S. attack, arms extended.

The Brazilian goalie, Andreia, went into flight behind Daiane, gloves extended. But all they caught was the shadow of the ball on its way off Wambach's forehead, landing in the back of the net.

Euphoria.

"I don't think I've ever hit a cross like that with my left foot," Rapinoe said.

After Wambach's header sent the game to penalty kicks, Lloyd buried the U.S. team's second kick in the lower right corner, and Rapinoe placed a shot in the upper right corner to give the U.S. team a 4-2 lead in the shootout.

Twelve years ago to the day, Rampone had celebrated in the Rose Bowl after Brandi Chastain made women's soccer history. She was on the verge of a smiliar feat.

Krieger completed this day's story on the U.S. team's final kick as her shot found the back of the net for the game-winner.

But, as Lloyd said after the game, the job is not done.

"It's very important for us to not get on too much of a high from this game," she said, "because we have our business to take care of on Wednesday."

Philadelphia will be watching.