Still basking in the glow of her gold medal performance at the Summer Olympics in London, the pride of Delran, NJ spoke to Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor about her tumultuous journey from being benched prior to the Olympics to experiencing the greatest victory of her career.
In one of the most dramatic moments of the Olympics and in U.S. women’s soccer, Carli Lloyd scored two decisive goals in the championship game which she described as the proudest and most exciting moment in her life. “I didn’t think Beijing would be topped by this but it was a memorable moment and two of the most incredible goals of my career.”
The victory was made all the more sweet because it came at the expense of their nemesis Japan which dealt the U.S. team a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s World Cup final. The growing familiarity with their rival may have created a comfort level that contributed to the win. Lloyd said she and her teammates knew what they had to do.
“We scored more goals than they did and we wanted it,” said Lloyd, adding “we did not want to walk away off that field without receiving that gold medal.”
Having reached the peak of her game, Lloyd remembered vividly the lowest point in her career when she went from regular player to being benched.
“A couple months ago, I thought that my life was over; I was devastated, I was in tears,” she recalled. Rather than feel sorry for herself, Lloyd said she dug deep and worked harder than she thought possible, training five to six hours a day with no guarantee that she would play in the Olympics.
“I went in there, got to London, had a couple weeks training camp prior to the games over there and took it day by day and focused and made sure I was the hardest working player in training every single day.” And when her moment came, she didn’t waste it. Lloyd recalled the words of her longtime trainer, saying “James told me that I’m gonna persevere through all this and, in the end, it’s gonna taste a lot better. And he sure was right.”
Lloyd is one of four players on the team who hail from the Garden State (Lloyd, Heather O’Reilly, Tobin Heath and Christie Rampone). Speaking from personal experience, Lloyd doesn’t think it’s a coincidence that so many high caliber players come from the state. For the past ten years, she has trained in New Jersey with her trainer James Galanis at his Universal Soccer Academy.
“He was helping me through the entire month mentally just getting me through, making sure I was focusing, making sure that I knew that I would get my opportunity to play and that I would shine and I had to show everybody that I’m a quality player and I belong out on the field.”