Japan's World Cup soccer victory over the US women's team yesterday devastated the Yanks, but also gave a major kick in the pants to the bad fortunes haunting a nation struggling in the wake of a devastating tsunami. It was the first-ever World Cup win for the gutsy women, who endured to outshine the US team in a penalty shootout 3-1. "This was a devastating loss for us," says US midfielder Heather O'Reilly. "We were all stunned when that second goal went in, thinking we were five minutes from a championship." The US dominated play throughout much of the game, and was up 1-0, then 2-1 until a tie pushed the contest into overtime, then, finally the shootout.
Nimble, quicksilver Japanese goalie Ayumi Kaihori nabbed two of the American penalty kicks, and Carli Lloyd sent her ball sailing over the crossbars, giving the Japanese their victory margin. Though heartsick, the Americans were generous in defeat, notes the Wall Street Journal. "Japan was playing with a very large 12th man—it's called desire and hope," says US striker Abby Wambach. "I feel devastated. Japan, give them all the credit. They never gave up." Adds goalkeeper Hope Solo: "We lost to a great team. I truly believe that something bigger was pulling for this team."