Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Ageless Wonder

NYTimes: Lilly, Matriarch of U.S. Team, Refuses to Fade to Gray

[Saturday, when the United States plays an exhibition against Brazil at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., Lilly is expected to make her 327th international appearance, unsurpassed by any man or woman. Only Hamm, with 158 international goals, has scored more than Lilly’s 122.]

When she began, the American women ate candy bars on the road in China and stayed in a Haitian hotel with no running water. Now Lilly forges on toward her fifth World Cup with a pioneer’s spirit and demand for excellence, even as her teammates jokingly call her Grandma, if not often to her face.


While Chastain got all the attention for twirling her jersey above her head like a lasso after the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, there would have been no dramatic, victorious ending against China without Lilly’s fundamental perfection.

In overtime, with 90,000 on hand at the Rose Bowl and 40 million Americans watching on television, Lilly lined up at the near post, followed the indolent trajectory of a corner kick and rebuffed a Chinese shot with her head.

That header is probably the most important individual play in the history of U.S. women's soccer.

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