“My intention was to hit it to that side and to hit it with my laces,” she said, “just as I had been doing in practice. When I watch it again on replay, it sometimes makes me nervous. I’m thinking, ‘Boy, that is not going in.’ That was way too close.”

Chastain turned to face her teammates at midfield and, in one motion, tore off her uniform top to reveal the best set of abs since Linda Hamilton staved off the Terminator. She sank to her knees and let out an exultant cry that no one but she could hear.

The Rose Bowl was shaking, but Beck stayed focused on his subject. Using a mid-range zoom lens (70-200mm), he framed the shot as a horizontal so as to capture Chastain’s teammates rushing up behind her.

“When she made the winning kick and took her top off, it turned into something completely different,” he said. “I had a version that nobody else had because I was directly behind the net.”

Beck wondered if he had gotten the shot. “We used to ship our film immediately back to New York,” he said. “Peter Read Miller was driving me to the airport, and I was worrying about the exposure. We were shooting with chrome film, and it had to be right on or else it was worthless. It’s not like digital where you can be two stops off and fix it in post-production.

“I kept going, ‘Gosh, Peter, I don’t know if I got it–the light was this and so forth.’ He was pissed off because he knew that I had a better angle. He finally said, ‘Just shut up.’”

Beck’s photo was cropped to run as a vertical image on Sports Illustrated’s cover. Even in the crop, wisps of white netting, eerily out of focus, are faintly visible.

“That picture represents somebody who was in love with what they were doing.”

Chastain re-appeared on the cover of SI in December, along with her teammates, as the magazine’s “Sportswomen of the Year” (shot by fashion photographer Mark Abrahams). She would later be accused of turning the celebration into a look-at-me opportunity, an interpretation that she rejects. “What I explain to people is, imagine the moment you created as a kid in the playground many, many times–where you have the last shot and the clock is ticking down and the crowd goes wild,” she said. “Maybe in the playground you jump up in the air or pump your fists. But to do this in real life: the emotion and the energy and the electricity and the crowd–it was insanity because I wasn’t really in control. It was just a spontaneous expression to a wonderful moment, but a moment that was a lifetime in building.”

DiCicco concurs. “That was a response that a top player would do after scoring an incredibly important goal,” he said. “Brandi celebrated a goal in a way she had seen countless men celebrate big goals. In that moment I don’t think she felt anything other than exhilaration and relief.”

Chastain kept playing afterwards, professionally and for the national team, until the early 2000s. Then she retired and became a TV commentator. Now 46, she coaches boys’ high school soccer and is married to Jerry Smith, the women’s soccer coach at Santa Clara University.

The world’s most famous sports bra was briefly displayed at the Sports Museum of America in New York City. After the museum folded, it was returned to Chastain. It now hangs, framed, in her home next to the Sports Illustrated cover.

Chastain and Beck have since met and discussed the moment and the photograph. They even reprised the scene about 10 years later on a soccer field in northern California, with Chastain ripping off her top and a bunch of 10-year-olds running up behind her. “That was pretty cool,” she said.

It’s worth noting that the U.S. has not won another World Cup since 1999. (Talk about your SI cover jinx!) Indeed, that drought has installed Chastain and her teammates in legend. They’ve been the subject of two documentaries—Dare to Dream in 2005 (HBO) and The 99ers in 2013 (part of ESPN’s Nine for IX series)—and, frankly, continue to overshadow the teams that have followed them.

It’s also worth noting that the long-term goal of many players on the team (including Chastain)—the establishment of a prominent professional soccer league—has proven elusive. Several attempts, including the Women’s United Soccer Association and Women’s Professional Soccer, faltered. The nascent National Women’s Soccer League receives very little media coverage. (China just launched its own professional women’s soccer league.)

And, in an unfortunate reminder that women’s sports are still considered second-tier, the national team and their opponents are playing this year’s World Cup on artificial turf, not natural grass, despite player protests and a threatened lawsuit. DiCicco will provide commentary during the tourney for Fox Sports. (Todd Curran is the head coach of the women’s soccer team at San Diego Mesa College.)

Beck himself encountered a professional reversal on the eve of this year’s Super Bowl. In a cost-cutting move, Sports Illustrated laid off the magazine’s entire division of staff photographers: Beck and five others—Simon Bruty, Bill Frakes, David Klutho, John McDonough, and Al Tielemans—lost their jobs. SI continues to hire them, but as freelancers.

“It was like these corporate bean-counters said, ‘Get rid of them,’ to save some money,” he said. “There was no montage highlighting our work. I’m not sure if anyone really cares.”

His image of Brandi Chastain, triumphant on a sweltering July day in Pasadena, will endure, documenting a populist victory that helped propel women’s soccer into the national consciousness.

That legacy, Chastain believes, is crucial. “I think, mostly, young girls demur when they do something great,” she said. “They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or apologize for their greatness. I feel that picture represents somebody who was in love with what they were doing and joyful at the outcome. We must as women and girls celebrate the good things that we do because if we can’t feel good about the good things we do, nobody else can.”

David Davis is the author of Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku (Univ. of Nebraska Press), to be published on Oct. 1.