The United States Women's National Team lost to Japan after extra time and penalty kicks Sunday in the Women's World Cup final. The game was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation. America's Abby Wambach scored a goal during the 104th minute to put the U.S. up 2-1. Japan fought hard, and the last minute heroics of Japan's Homare Sowa tied the game with only three minutes remaining in extra time to force the penalty kicks, where Japan outscored the U.S. 3-1. When the game went to kicks, Americans were faced with an all too familiar feeling. The last time the U.S. won a Women's World Cup was 12 years ago, in 1999, when Brandi Chastain scored the deciding penalty kick to win the final game against China on home soil at California's Rose Bowl. Chastain's celebration became one of the most prolific sports photos of the time.
Sunday's game, of course, did not go as well. The Japanese team came back and won the game. The win is being billed as a glimmer of hope for a country facing tough times. The Wall Street Journal's Yoree Koh contextualizes the win, writing that it's "coming four months after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and weeks of bungling by the nation's leaders in response, the title gives the struggling, weary country a tenacious national symbol to rally around." The team has proved to be a rallying point for the Japanese people, who refer to them as "Nadeshiko" which is "chosen after a pink flower seen in Japan to symbolize a combination of beauty and strength."