The Big Three-Oh: #23

Welcome to “The Big Three-Oh!” I’m turning 30 at the end of July and to celebrate, I am counting down my best/favorite sports moments in my lifetime. If you missed the kickoff post, check it out for the background for the seriesMoving along to #23. The Instagram Athlete for today should be pretty obvious but the moment features a rarely seen sport on The Thunderblog: Soccer.

#23 — Carli Lloyd’s Hattrick propels USA to Women’s World Cup title in 2015

Ah soccer, a sport I’ve tried to follow numerous times. And thanks to gambling on the EPL, I think it may stick this time. You may be wondering why I didn’t pick last year’s squad that dominated throughout their run to second-straight World Cup. Or why didn’t I pick the comeback against Brazil in 2011? Well, it’s because the 2015 World Cup win encompasses both, certainly 2011.

For those you don’t remember, the 2011 USA Women’s World Cup looking poised to win the final against Japan but fell short. It took the wind completely out of the sails from the comeback over Brazil a few days earlier. Going into 2015, the team had a “Redeem Team” like aura surrounding them. The 1999 World Cup team, similar to the 1998 Gold Medal US Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, were two of my first serious memories of seeing a US team winning on the world stage so the Women’s World Cup always slapped a little different than the Men’s World Cup. To put it simply, the Men’s is like when your favorite team (pick whatever sport) doesn’t make the playoffs or even has a first-round exit, whereas the Women’s is like your favorite team coming in as the 1-Seed. The hopes were higher.

I followed the 2015 Women’s World Cup very closely, closer than I had for any soccer tournament, really. So by the team this Final approached, I was pretty amped up for. My friends and I all went to Buffalo Billiards in Old City Philadelphia to watch the match. As the US went up big so early, it quickly turned into a celebration party not just with my friends, but with all the strangers. I’d experience something similar in 2019 watching that Final at the Yards Brewery, but 2015 took no chances of Japan squeaking out a title. The icing on the cake ended up being Carli Lloyd’s hattrick. The cherry on top was that she was from South Jersey and is a huge Philly sports fan.

The 2015 team, in particular, holds a special in my heart not just because it was the USA regaining its place on top of the Women’s Soccer World, not just because a hattrick, but because that team sparked an interest in a sport I never really followed. While it took a little more than just immediately following that win five years ago, it seems like I’ll be paying more and more attention to soccer in my 30s thanks to the 2015 US Women’s World Cup team.

Today’s Instagram Athlete

Nine years ago to count down the days until my 21st birthday, I posted a picture of athletes wearing the cooresponding number of day left to Facebook. While I did not have an Instagram account back in 2011, I have one now so I’ll be revisiting this idea in conjuncture with Top 30 Sports Moments. FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM SO YOU DON’T MISS IT

This shouldn’t be a shock. Michael Jordan is number 23. There will be more of Jordan on this list so I’ll save my other thoughts when we get to those moments. In the meanwhile, listen to ‘The Last Dance’ recap podcasts I did with Emily.

(cover photo via)

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