Japan stuns U.S. women in World Cup destiny match
A riveting women’s World Cup soccer tournament in Germany came to a surprising end Sunday when one national team of destiny edged another nation’s squad which was also attempting to realize its own destiny.
The United States women’s soccer team, which is a two-time World Cup champion, but hasn’t won it since 1999, rallied to dramatic victories over Brazil and France in the World Cup quarter- and semi-finals, respectively, to reach Sunday’s final, which the Americans felt destined to win and dominated most of the match.
But, in the wake of the devastating and deadly earthquake and tsunami disaster which struck their nation, Japan’s soccer women had a stronger sense of destiny on their side as they bravely and loyally played for their fractured country.
Using the “four-H” road to success – hope, heart, help and healing – the Japanese women twice overcame U.S. leads to tie the match at 2-2 after regulation time and two 15-minute overtimes, and then claimed their first-ever World Cup championship by beating the Americans 3-1 in the penalty kick decider.
The talented, underdog women from Japan provided the hope, heart and healing in three-straight improbable victories on their way to winning the World Cup – the first Asian country to do it – but it took some help in the form of a few mistakes from their strong opponents to complete the task.
On its way to beating the U.S. in the final, Japan posted exhilerating wins over two-time World Cup defending champion and host Germany – its first win ever over a European team – in the quarterfinals, and Sweden in the semifinals.
While we are saddened to see the outstanding and well-conditioned and coached United States women’s team come up so heartbreakingly short, we have to feel some exhileration for a Japanese team that gave its recovering nation a so-much-needed booster shot of honor, pride and confidence for its future.
It’s one of those rare times when sports directly effects a country and its people on so many important functioning levels.