High-SchoolGirl: Abby Wambach

Abby WambachRobert Michael/AFP/Getty ImagesAbby Wambach has a fearless mentality that has produced big wins at every level.
ESPN is marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX by unveiling the top 40 female athletes of the past 40 years.

Even as a 16-year-old, Abby Wambach seemed destined for stardom.

"You could see the qualities we all know today," says April Heinrichs, who coached Wambach on a junior national team before taking over the U.S. senior national team from 2000 to 2005. "She was great in the air, and she was a winner."

Today, the soccer star, who is No. 33 in the ESPN countdown, has scored 134 goals for Team USA, second all-time on the international stage, behind Mia Hamm's 158.

But what really has set Wambach apart over the years is how she elevates her game at crunch time.

"I've never seen her intimidated by anyone," Heinrichs says, "or by any challenge."

Read the complete story from espnW here.

Earlier in this series:
No. 40: Diver Fu Mingxia
No. 39: Jockey Julie Krone
No. 38: Gymnast Mary Lou Retton
No. 37: Hockey player Cammi Granato
No. 36: Soccer player Kristine Lilly
No. 35: Basketball player Diana Taurasi
No 34: Volleyball player Flo Hyman

Year-end cheers to Abby Wambach

December, 20, 2011
12/20/11
2:48
PM ET
Abby Wambach, the heart and soul of the United States' Women's World Cup team that inspired the nation this summer, has been named the female athlete of the year by The Associated Press.

Her signature moment came in the quarterfinal against Brazil.

Down a player for almost an hour, the Americans were less than 90 seconds from losing in overtime after squandering an early lead. But in the 122nd minute, Wambach rose above the Brazilian defenders and scored on a header, setting off pandemonium in the stadium.

"It just seemed surreal. Even in the moment, I was feeling like it was a dream because we were so against the ropes and everything was pointed to us going down that day," Wambach said. "But there was something inside of us that wasn't going to allow that to happen. We weren't quite ready to give up."

Wambach led the Americans to the final, where they lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

The 31-year-old ranks third on the U.S. career scoring list with 125 goals, trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).

"Hopefully when I'm long gone, this team is so good that people don't even talk about (me)," she said. "Truthfully."

Click here for the full story on espnW.

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