VANCOUVER, British Columbia - The dust settled both literally and figuratively Monday morning on the United States’ triumph in the Women’s World Cup.
As a cloud of smog induced by wildfires enveloped much of the region, the American team gathered at Fox's downtown studio set to receive jerseys with the long-sought third star sewn above the crest.
There were hugs, tears, showers of confetti, and screams of joy from the fans who jammed Jack Poole Plaza for the party.
Carli Lloyd still couldn't quite believe that her performance for the ages Sunday in a 5-2 rout of Japan really happened.
"I don't know that it has entirely sunk in yet," the Delran native said. "I've just been overloaded with text messages and Facebook stuff. It's just been surreal."
But she knew that she was the new American soccer cover girl, with photos of her history-making hat trick splashed across newspapers and websites around the world. President Obama posted about her on Twitter and her Wikipedia page was changed briefly to say her position was "president of the United States."
"I think it's definitely gone to another level," she said. "I'm not sure I'm ready for that, but it's great."
Plenty of people were watching. The final drew the largest television audience for soccer in American history: 25.4 million viewers on Fox and 1.27 million on Telemundo.
Lloyd's drive and determination never wavered throughout the tournament. And by the end, it was clear that her teammates shared those traits, too.
"We had a mission: We came here to win it," Lloyd said. "We did everything it took. We were great with the game plan, we stuck together, we believed in one another, and that's what it was all about."
The U.S. team will celebrate its World Cup title with a 10-game victory tour. Two matches against World Cup participant Costa Rica have been announced: Aug. 16 in Pittsburgh and Aug. 19 in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Lloyd's ability to block out the rest of the world and focus on winning was manifest in a lot of ways during this tournament. The most famous was her intense stare at the ball as it sat atop one of the penalty spots at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, waiting to be slammed past German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer in the 2-0 semifinal victory.
She showed that focus off the field, too. Before the World Cup began, Lloyd made it clear that she did not want any family members or friends to travel to Canada to watch her play. That included her fiancé, Brian Hollins, a golf pro at the Trenton Country Club, even though they've been dating since Lloyd was a sophomore at Delran High School.
Hollins followed Lloyd's orders - as Lloyd quipped, he "was coming, and then he wasn't coming, and thought that we wouldn't get married if he showed up, so he decided to stay home." But behind the scenes, two of Lloyd's cousins, an aunt and another friend did make the trip, and surprised her after the title game.
Now Lloyd can turn to the future, which she said includes getting married to Hollins in November 2016. Before then, though, there's an Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, and Lloyd said she intends to be there.
"I've got to collect as many medals as I can," Lloyd said, adding that she's aiming to play at the 2019 World Cup in France because "I've got to get another star on that jersey as well."
In the present, though, there is nothing but celebration, and even more stardom than she already has.
Celebrity status does not always sit well with Lloyd, who prides herself on putting hard work above all else. But for the time being, she's happy to embrace the spotlight.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to have to ride this wave for a short time and then come back down to Earth again and wait for the Olympic cycle,” she said.