Florida soccer great Abby Wambach has been a fixture for the U.S. Women's National Team for the better part of a decade now. But she's never scored a goal as important as the one she did this Sunday.
On a picture-perfect cross from Megan Rapinoe, Wambach rocketed home a header that equalized for the USWNT in the 122nd minute of one of the most dramatic games of any kind that will happen in 2011. It was the latest goal in Women's World Cup history, and certainly the greatest of Wambach's career, considering how it keyed maybe the most satisfying win in USWNT history.
After an own goal by Brazil in the second minute, the USWNT conceded a goal on a questionable retake of a penalty kick in the second half — Hope Solo saved a penalty, but it was stunningly called back either for encroachment or Solo moving inches off her line — then another to Brazil's marvelous Marta in extra time. Playing with 10 players from early in the second half on, the USWNT needed a miracle: Rapinoe and Wambach delivered it, tying the game 2-2 and allowing the USWNT to win 5-3 in the penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play, with Wambach putting in a strike on the third PK.
The U.S. now moves to the semifinals of the 2011 Women's World Cup. "I can't believe that just happened," Wambach told ESPN's Bob Holtzman in a post-match interview. Neither can I. But I'm glad it did.