June 20, 2013
By Michael Lewis
THE NEW QUEEN OF GOALS
Wambach connects for four goals in opening half to move past Mia with 160 goals
HARRISON, N.J. -- Women's soccer has a new scoring queen.
|Abby Wambach broke Mia Hamm's all-time record with four first-half goals.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
In less than a half an hour, Abby Wambach eclipsed Mia Hamm's scoring record at Red Bull Arena, ramming home four first-half goals against the Korea Republic en route to a 5-0 international friendly victory on Thursday night.
Wambach broke Hamm's record of 158 goals in her 207th international match. Hamm, who retired in 2004, performed in 275 matches.
During the game, Hamm issued a statement, congratulating her former teammate.
"I'm just so proud of her," Hamm said in the statement. "Just watching those four goals, that's what she's all about. She fights for the ball, she's courageous and she never gives up. Her strength and perseverance is what makes her so great and it's what defender sand opposing teams fear. From being my teammate early in her career, I know all she ever wanted to do was win and she continues to do that. I'm just glad I got to share 158 with her. It was short, but it was fun."
Wambach started the match at 156 goals, but that did not last very long.
Taking advantage of an American side that was playing with the great intensity usually reserved for a Women's World Cup or the Olympics, Wambach moved past her former U.S. National Team teammate before an enthusiastic, loud and appreciative crowd of 18,961.
The Rochester, N.Y. native did not have to make the crowd wait very long to celebrate as she connected for no. 157 in the 10th minute, slotting home a Lauren Cheney feed with her right foot from the left side past goalkeeper Kim Jungmi for a 1-0 U.S. lead.
Wambach equaled Hamm's record of 158 in the 27th minute as she headed in Cheney's left-wing feed from point-blank range.
Three minutes later, Wambach headed in a Megan Rapinoe corner kick from eight yards for goal no. 160 in the 29th minute as the entire stadium erupted. Rapinoe was the first teammate to congratulate Wambach as the entire U.S. bench raced onto the field to celebrate the goal with the 33-year-old striker.
Wambach then put her thumbs up and blew kisses to her family in a suite at the stadium. It appeared Wambach's mother was crying tears of joy for her daughter.
The 2012 FIFA Women's Player of the Year was hardly finished or satisfied as she struck for no. 160 in first-half stoppage time. This time her scoring partner up front, Alex Morgan, raced down the right wing into the penalty area and shuffled off a pass to Wambach, who beat two Koreans, Lim Seonjoo and Kim Hyeri, from a yard out for a 4-0 advantage.
Wambach left the game to a huge ovation in the 58th minute, replaced by Christen Press. As she walked off the field, Wambach was hugged by just about every teammate. When she reached the U.S. bench, head coach Tom Sermanni gave her a huge hug as well. Wambach, who applauded the crowd in return, finished with her first four-goal game. She once struck for five goals and has five three-goal games.
Cheney, who set up the first two tallies, got on the goal side in the 64th minute, heading home a left-wing cross from Kelley O'Hara for a 5-0 advantage.