After a long week that seemed to focus more on the hurt feelings of some English fans—and perhaps even tea-drinkers in general—than the final game of this tournament, the USWNT defeated the Netherlands 2-0 to win their fourth Women’s World Cup title. Purple-haired American hero Megan Rapinoe and Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle both got on the scoresheet.
There was dominance on both sides throughout the first 45 minutes of the match. Unfortunately for the Netherlands, that dominance came from goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal who had four incredible saves against the US as the Dutch defense absorbed a strong-willed American attack. As anxiety-inducing as it might have been for all involved, van Veenendaal proved to be enough to keep the game scoreless at halftime.
In between saves, the Netherlands even seemed to grow in confidence with their ability to go on the break off for a counter that led to quite a few, albeit less notable, chances to score and break the 0-0 deadlock.
Ultimately, things broke in favor of the USWNT in the 60th minute when VAR determined that Alex Morgan had been fouled in the box thanks to a high boot from Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt. Rapinoe stepped up to the spot and was as cool as she had been all tournament, slotting her shot to the left of a frozen van Veenendaal.
The floodgates opened up after that. A once stout Netherlands defense began to crumble much more easily as their midfield regularly turned the ball over to a re-energized American side that wanted to double their lead. After three close breaks that forced the Dutch into some seriously desperate defending, Lavelle finally gave the Americans the goal they were looking for with a solo run that made the Netherlands look absolutely silly.
The Dutch certainly didn’t want to lay down and die after letting their opponents get the double, but Lavelle’s goal had such a demoralizing impact on the team that they might as well have thrown in the towel in the 69th minute. All their ensuing efforts at scoring were for naught. The US also seemed to follow this late-game run of form with Tobin Heath repeatedly getting the ball in the Netherlands’ penalty box, but choosing to screw around and run some clock rather than take a shot.
But whether you agree with the endgame strategy the Americans chose to employ matters not since they won the damn World Cup. Rapinoe got to take home extra hardware, winning both the Golden Boot—she beat out teammate Alex Morgan on the “fewer minutes played” tiebreaker—and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. As for the Dutch, van Veenendaal’s efforts were recognized with the Golden Glove award.