Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ultimate Goal

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ultimate Goal

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Jets of red, white and blue confetti rained down on the 3,500 lucky ticket-holders jammed near the front steps of City Hall while the 23 members of the World Cup-winning U.S. Women's Soccer team, arms around each other, danced together as one as their victory tour came to a thunderous conclusion.

A 45-minute ceremony at City Hall presided over by Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday in which each player received a key to New York City capped a historic day. The U.S. squad became the first women's team honored with a parade up lower Manhattan's fabled Canyon of Heroes.

"This is the best moment of my life," said Delran's Carli Lloyd, who starred for Rutgers before scoring a hat trick in the 5-2 title game win over Japan on July 5 in Vancouver.

The next day in Los Angeles, an estimated crowd of 10,000 helped the team celebrate its win at a ceremony. Friday's crowd dwarfed that as rows of people lined the parade route.

"Winning the World Cup, having this parade in New York City, going to LA Live [an entertainment complex], everything has been unbelievable," Lloyd said. "It's almost like, in the blink of an eye, life has completely changed. And it's a good thing."

Lloyd and her teammates made their comments via video released by the U.S. Soccer Federation as the players were not made available in person to the media immediately after the parade or after the ceremony.

The steps to City Hall provided an impromptu stage and the fans that had begun settling into their seats as early as 7 a.m. - six hours before the ceremony finally got under way -- periodically broke into chants of "USA, USA."

That became a roar five minutes before the ceremony started when team members Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Christen Press appeared on a balcony overlooking the front steps, right above a sign that read, "2015 FIFA World Cup Champions," and waved to the crowd.

"This whole day has pretty much blown me away," said team member Tobin Heath of Basking Ridge. "The support we received, the people that came out, just the way the fans were cheering for us. I swear, at every bend there were more people and more people gathering and cheering. It was just overwhelming. …

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