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Unlikely Hero Shines in Women's World Cup

Photograph by Getty Images

United States Women's National Team midfielder Carli Lloyd stepped onto the field for Sunday's World Cup final in Vancouver, having been called everything from a weirdo and a choker, to a beast and a winner. But after the team's dominating win over Japan, 5-2, with help from her hat trick within the first 16 minutes of the game, she is now being celebrated as a sports hero. And yesterday's game was the most watched soccer game in United States history!

But as the Washington Post points out, the well-earned accolades don't erase Lloyd's complex career, which has been a roller-coaster ride. After a Hall of Fame career at Rutgers, she launched herself onto the national team in 2005. Three years later, she was the hero at the 2008 Olympics with an overtime goal against Brazil. But in the 2011 World Cup, Lloyd blasted her penalty kick high above the net during a shootout loss to Japan.

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Now it seems that all forgotten as Lloyd won the Golden Ball yesterday, which is given to that year's best World Cup player. She no doubt helped lead her team to its first World Cup trophy in 16 years. Even the white House gave her a shout-out.

Lloyd stands as a great role model for girl soccer players all over the country. As a profile in the Wall Street Journal explains, Lloyd's approach to soccer is actually pretty straight forward: She just trains harder than everyone else.

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"Like an eighth-grader at travel-soccer practice, I sprint up the gym floor dribbling only with my right foot, first the outside, then the inside," Lloyd told the Wall Street Journal before the tournament began a month ago. "Then she does the same with her left. On one series, she fakes a kick before each touch, making sure to raise one arm in the exact motion. On another she dips her inside shoulder each time to accent a feint."

"It's all about repetition," Lloyd told the newspaper.

Practice may not always make perfect, but it sure comes pretty close.

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