Ayumi Kaihori pictured being beaten by Carli Lloyd’s halfway goal in 2015
The goal put USA 4-0 up on Japan en route to a 5-2 final win
Lloyd: “I don’t think she was expecting it one bit”
Four years earlier, she had been the heroine. But the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Final, in which Ayumi Kaihori stopped two penalties in the shoot-out as Japan stunned USA, must have seemed like a lifetime ago at the moment captured here.
Just 16 minutes had been played of the 2015 decider in Vancouver and, already, Kaihori’s goal had been breached four times. Worse still, the latest shot to beat her had come from just inside Japan’s half, with her panicked, stumbling attempts at backpedalling having proved in vain.
But Kaihori wasn’t the only player whose Final fortunes had flipped. After all, Carli Lloyd had missed a penalty in that 2011 shoot-out. Now here she was completing a record-breaking hat-trick with the most memorable goal in Women’s World Cup history.
“It was instinct,” Lloyd said afterwards of her treble-sealing strike. “Every single game I play, I’m always checking to see where the goalkeeper is. And she was really off her line.
“I don’t think she was expecting it one bit. A lot of goalkeepers these days play with their feet. They have a tendency to be off their line and up higher. I don’t think she thought it was going to be hit at all.”
And while Kaihori might not appreciate the regular reminders, the goal has become truly, and justifiably, iconic. For the goalscorer, its place in Women’s World Cup folklore – and the hearts of football fans – is a source of huge pride.
“What’s cool is that everyone remembers that shot and that game. It’s almost become this icon, the ‘Carli Lloyd shot’, the midfield shot,” she said.
“Afterwards I was getting all sorts of messages from young kids, adults, boys and they were trying the ‘Carli Lloyd midfield shot’. It’s pretty cool because most people wouldn’t go for that and then I did it. It just gives people a different perspective that, if you don’t try it, you never know if you’re going to make it.”
Did you know? The kick-off ball from this seven-goal thriller - the highest-scoring Final in Women's World Cup history - is on display at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich.