USA attacked several times, but they couldn't put one into the net. USA had several missed opportunities, and it ended up catching up to them in the end.
Though USA had possession of the ball for a lot of the first half, Japan's midfielder, Homare Sawa and Japan's defense managed to fight off the attacks, keeping the game tied 0-0 at the end of the first half.
USA coach, Pia Sundhage must have given an inspiring half-time speech because USA started the second half as aggressively as they had the first.
About 15 minutes in, Alex Morgan scored for USA. Twelve minutes later, on a botched attempt at defense by USA, Aya Miyama equalized for Japan.
Japan then started playing like they had during the semifinals.
The game held 1-1, and 90 minutes proved not enough to declare a winner for the fourth time in six FIFA Women's World Cup Finals.
In the opening period of extra time, USA played hard, a clear demonstration of their physical fitness. With one minute to go, on an assist from Morgan, Abby Wambach head-butted a bullet into the net, her fourth goal by header in the tournament.
The second period of extra time was fast-paced and exciting. USA tried to hold the lead, but Japan constantly nipped at their heals. Japan dominated, and with three minutes remaining, on a corner from Miyama, Sawa equalized, forcing the match to go into a penalty shootout and making Sawa the top goalscorer of the tournament.
The penalty shootout is where USA dropped their cookies.
Yuki Nagasato, Japan's goalie, blocked Shannon Boxx's kick. It was a brilliantly lucky save. Nagasato's foot was in the right place at the right time, and it set the tone for the rest of the shootout.
Carli Loyd and Tobin Heath followed Boxx's lead and failed to convert their kicks.
Although Hope Solo was able to block one of Japan's attempts, it was to no avail. Japan beat USA in the penalty shootout, 3-1 crowning them 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup champions.
Japan's celebration was heartfelt and inspiring. The players laid on the ground and smiled, beaming with pride, relief, exhiliration. It was simple, authentic, and calm. This team had quietly pulled themselves up by their boot straps and got the job done, a true reflection of their country.