Two goals in the span of nine minutes gave the U.S. a fourth Women’s World Cup title as the USWNT edged out the Netherlands in the final at Lyon, France, and a pair of Penn Staters earned gold in the process.
Two former Nittany Lions featured in the game, with Alyssa Naeher starting in goal and Ali Krieger coming on as a sub at halftime. Both players claimed their second World Cup wins after featuring on the 2015 squad as well.
Naeher claimed her fourth clean sheet of the tournament.
The first half, despite being goalless, was a tense affair. The teams started out in a feeling-out phase and gradually found their chances. A sequence right before 40 minutes in was the best shot for the U.S. to take the lead, but Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal made crucial saves to deny the likes of Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan.
Naeher was not particularly tested in the half as the Netherlands only had one shot. However, she did have to scramble out of the area to clear out an almost one-on-one chance with Lineth Beerensteyn breaking free.
Kelley O’Hara suffered from a possible head injury and was replaced at halftime by the other Penn State alumna, Krieger.
A controversial call gave United States a crack at the lead an hour in. Stefanie van der Gragt went in for a challenge against Alex Morgan off a deflected cross. The Dutch centerback clattered Morgan with a high boot toward her shoulder. After consulting VAR, referee Stephanie Frappart awarded a penalty to the U.S.
Captain Megan Rapinoe stepped up to the spot after missing the previous game. She waited for van Veenendaal to react before slotting the spot kick to the other direction to give her team the 1-0 lead.
The game immediately opened up after the goal with the Dutch pushing forward, looking for chances for the likes of Vivianne Miedema and the Americans looking dangerous on the counter.
The United States were able to double the lead nine minutes later. After Crystal Dunn won back the ball from Daniëlle van de Donk, she laid it off to Rose Lavelle. Lavelle then weaved through a retreating Dutch defense before slotting a shot to the bottom right corner to go up 2-0.
The Americans made a few more breakaways with the Netherlands not mounting a lot of quality chances up front. Tobin Heath, Rapinoe and Dunn all had cracks at a third goal but did not materialize. Sherida Spitse came close to pulling one back, but her free kick was just wide.