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Monday, July 18, 2011
U.S. women handle defeat with grace

By Lizzie Haldane

Don't we all wish we were in Germany, among the face-painted fanatics, waving, cheering and experiencing the 2011 Women's World Cup fanfare firsthand? For those not in Deutschland, espnW provides the full fan experience.

@Hopesolo: I will embrace this silver medal and give my utmost respect for Japan. Thanks to all friends, families, and fans who stood behind us.

@AbbyWambach: Well, not exactly what we had planned. Congrats to Japan on a tremendous #WWC2011. So proud to be a part of this team and to represent #USA

@alexmorgan13: I am a little heart broken. But we left it all on the field, and I am proud of this team.

@AlexBKrieger: Headed home :)) I'm so happy to celebrate such an amazing experience with all my family and friends!! #blessed

Did Japan win or U.S. lose?

@HatHunter: USA women's cup played well. But Japan benefits more by the win. No one likes to lose. But this was win win. Pleased for both teams.

@GlennFuruya: Congrats to team Japan for the women's soccer cup win today. They showed amazing "Gaman." Can't think of a better way for team USA to lose.

@BrooklinDude: Japan stuns U.S. to win Women's World Cup It was the U.S.' game to lose. And they did just that. Japan rallied twice

Sawa showered with honors

Japan's fearless leader, 32-year-old Homare Sawa, concluded her fifth Women's World Cup appearance and sent Japan to penalties with a 117th-minute equalizer, eventually carrying her team to the winners' podium for the first time in Japanese men's or women's soccer history.

Golden Ball: Homare Sawa
Silver Ball: Abby Wambach
Bronze Ball: Hope Solo
This marked the first time an American was awarded the ball since 1999 when Michelle Akers received bronze.

Golden Boot: Homare Sawa (5 goals, one assist)
Silver Boot: Marta (4 goals, two assists)
Bronze Boot: Abby Wambach (4 goals, one assist)
Wambach received the Silver Boot (know then as the Silver Shoe) in the 2007 tournament.

Golden Glove: Hope Solo

Best Young Player Award: Caitlin Foord (Australia)
The 16-year-old Australian defender proved that age is nothing but a number. She attacked with creativity and defended with the poise of a veteran.

FIFA Fair Play award: Japan
Japan won not only the FIFA Women's World Cup championship but also a warm place in the hearts of women's football fans. The team was awarded the Fair Play award for receiving only five yellow cards and one red card throughout its six tournament matches.

FIFA all-star team

FIFA selected 21 among the 336 participants to its all-star team.

Goalkeepers: Ayumi Kaihori (Japan) and Hope Solo (USA).

Defenders: Alex Scott (England), Laura Georges (France), Erika (Brazil), Saskia Bartusiak (Germany), Sonia Bompastor (France) and Elise Kellond-Knight (Australia).

Defensive midfield: Shannon Boxx (USA), Homare Sawa (Japan), Caroline Seger (Sweden) and Jill Scott (England).

Attacking midfield: Kerstin Garefrekes (Germany), Shinobu Ohno (Japan), Louisa Necib (France), Anonman (Equatorial Guinea), Aya Miyama (Japan) and Lauren Cheney (USA).

Forwards: Lotta Schelin (Sweden), Marta (Brazil) and Abby Wambach (USA).

Hot off the press

Throughout the Women's World Cup, fans have collected Panini stickers depicting the world's best female soccer players. Because of the high demand, the Italian company quickly printed a million more to satiate the supporters' appetites to fill their 40-page scrapbooks with valuable stickers.

Continual fandom

The thrilling three weeks of Women's World Cup play concluded Sunday, but the world's best players will continue to compete at high levels for their respective club teams. With women's soccer leagues around the globe, fans can keep up with their favorite players, even if it's not a WWC year. Follow the world's best in America (Women's Professional Soccer), Germany (Frauen Bundesliga), Japan (L-League), Sweden (Damallsvenskan), England (FA Women's Premier League) and France (D1 Feminine), to name a few.

Twitter overload

During Sunday's WWC finale, a Twitter record for tweets per second was set with 7,196 messages per second relating to the U.S.-Japan matchup.

Burning up the charts

USA coach Pia Sundhage made it clear all tournament long that optimism and relaxation were key. Wambach said every team meeting with Sundhage is like a musical, as the coach breaks into song and dance. Before the team left for Germany, Sundhage addressed the crowd at the Nike Store in New York with a song and broke into a tune again at a Frankfurt press conference.

Reflections on the Women's World Cup final

From an American standpoint, Sunday's runner-up finish at the 2011 Women's World Cup was a hard knock to take. As the team advanced each stage, our hopes were revived that sooner rather than later, we'd see the United States hoist its third Women's World Cup trophy.

The United States was the last team to qualify for the World Cup and was also the last team to be eliminated. Sunday's defeat, in tandem with the U.S. losing out on host rights for the 2022 men's World Cup, left many longtime supporters fearing the future of soccer in this country. It's important to remember the exciting and resilient moments throughout this tournament that turned nonbelievers into fans.

There was not a Brandi Chastain moment in Sunday's final, but there were plays of sheer brilliance throughout the entire tournament. These moments go to show how far this game has come in the 20 years of Women's World Cup play from when it was originally known as the M&M Cup and the players had to convince their parents to attend the games.

Vote: It's the right thing to do

With more than 80 goals in this Women's World Cup, 10 were selected for the best goal of the tournament. extended voting to fans, so vote for the top shot.

En route to Canada

Despite Canada's lackluster performance at this year's Women's World Cup, the team likely will rebound for the next edition. The 2015 Women's World Cup will be hosted in Canada with an increased number of competing nations, jumping from 16 to 24.