HARRISON, N.J. -- If Mia Hamm was women's soccer's Sacajawea, showing the way to territorial rule for Lewis and Clark, then Abby Wambach is either Lewis or Clark. Or some other historic name completing a fairly memorable expedition.
Nine years after Hamm's retirement, Wambach surpassed the career scoring record of the sport's first female superstar with the first four -- four! -- goals last night in the U.S. national team's 5-0 victory over South Korea in an international friendly.
Wambach's offensive mastery left her with 160 international goals, two more than Hamm collected between 1987 and 2004. Hamm, who was not in attendance, issued a statement congratulating Wambach.
"Just watching those four goals," Hamm said, "that's what she is all about. She fights for the ball, she's courageous and she never gives up . . . From being her 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 [Hamm's total] with her."
At 33 and in her 13th season, Wambach long ago assumed the leading role on the U.S. team. It was in Hamm's final national-team appearance that Wambach scored the winning goal in the 2004 Olympic gold medal final against Brazil.
Wambach said she was "14 or 15" when she first saw Hamm in person whiletraining with the Under-16 national team at the same site where the veterans were working out.
"Even since that day," Wambach said, "this is what I wanted to do."
Wambach has scored against 31 national teams, in every month of the year, in 23 different U.S. states.
Last night, Wambach made it look so easy. A turning right-footed blast between two defenders in the 10th minute, a diving header into the opposite corner of the net in the 19th, a leaping, nodded header in the 29th, and a sliding tap-in of Alex Morgan's crossing pass in the 45th.
After the third goal, which passed Hamm, Wambach kissed the ball before South Korea's Jeoun Eunha, intent on restarting play, tried to snatch the ball away. The 18,961 Red Bull Arena fans booed. Then stood to cheer when Wambach left the game in the 58th minute.