By Shiryn Ghermezian, EnStarz | Aug 10, 2012 09:14 AM EDT
Alex Morgan, hero of Team USA's women's soccer side in the London 2012 Olympic semi finals, was unable to get on the score sheet in the final, but nevertheless she made a vital contribution to the team beating Japan 2-1 in Thursday's final.
The team's leading scorer played a feeding role to scorer Carli Lloyd in the game at Wembley Stadium, drawing away defenders and creating more space for Lloyd to carve openings in the World Cup champion's defense.
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Lloyd's first goal came through good work from Morgan; pulling a defender wide right and placing a cross in to her teammate to hit in the first goal and give Team USA the lead.
"Alex had to stretch the game for us," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said, according to USA Today. "Credit to Japan, the way they played, it forced us to change. Japan was too good for us. The way we defended, and found success, was having Shannon Boxx sitting in front of the two center backs with Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach up top chasing those loose balls."
Before heading into the Olympic semi finals against Canada, Morgan had already posted a career-high of 19 goals in 19 games along with 11 assists. She originally began as a reserve for the U.S. women's soccer team but her talent and speed has earned her a regular starting place in the national team.
Teammates have nicknamed her "Baby Horse" because of her young age and running style. She is 23-years-old and the team's youngest member.
The United States won its third straight Olympic gold medal on Thursday against Japan in the final game, a rematch of last year's World Cup final where USA lost on penalty kicks.
The U.S. team has won four of the five Olympic titles since women's soccer was introduced at the Games in 1996.
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