VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Carli Lloyd had a ball Sunday, kicking it past Japan goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori three times at B.C. Place and then receiving a special one herself -- the Golden Ball.

Her performance in the knockout games of the Women's World Cup was deserving of high honors as she connected for at least a goal in each one.

She certainly saved her best for last, striking for a hat trick in the 5-2 victory over Japan. Lloyd became the first women's player to register a hat trick in a World Cup final, accomplishing the feat during a 13-minute span in the opening 16 minutes as the Americans coasted to a 4-0 lead.

"It has been a long journey for my career," Lloyd said. "I have dedicated my life to all this. Everything comes second. I wouldn't have it any other way."

Lloyd said she dreamed about scoring four goals in the final. "I just completely zoned out," she said. "I dreamed and visualized playing in a World Cup final. I dreamed and visualized scoring four goals . . . If your mental state isn't good enough, you can't bring yourself to bigger and better things. I was on a mission today."

Unlike some of her teammates who had friends and family attend the tournament, Lloyd told hers to stay away. That included her fiance.

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"Not having anyone here to focus on my job and help the team win has been a main factor," Lloyd said.

Regardless what she does the rest of her career, the 32-year-old has etched her name into international soccer history. She already had, connecting twice in consecutive gold-medal wins in 2008 and 2012.

In the 2012 Olympic final in London, the Delran, N.J., native scored two goals in a 2-0 U.S. win over Japan. "She always does things to us," coach Norio Sasaki said. "We are a bit embarrassed. She is an excellent player. I respect her and admire her."