LYON, France — The most versatile women’s soccer player on Earth pulled off one remarkable individual hat trick on Sunday.
As a forward for the Washington Spirit in 2015, Crystal Dunn captured the National Women’s Soccer League scoring crown and Most Valuable Player honors.
As a playmaking midfielder for the North Carolina Courage in 2018, the Rockville Centre native pulled the strings for the NWSL champions.
And as a left back, Dunn helped the United States win its fourth Women’s World Cup.
“I’m proud of myself,” she said after the 2-0 victory over the Netherlands at Le Stade de Lyon. “Whenever I have doubt in my mind, I always realize that I am the only one who is in this unique position. I’m the only one who can switch and play into a different position and be ready that very same day and rise to the occasion.”
A former standout with South Side High School and the Rockville Centre and Albertson Soccer Clubs, Dunn, 27, did just that, battling some of the top right-wing forwards in the world. She helped the Americans limit their opposition to three goals in seven matches.
“Throughout the World Cup, I do feel like people were kind of doubting my ability to play that role,” she said. “I never really doubted myself. I came up against world-class forwards. Outside back is not my primary position, but I’m walking away from this World Cup with my head held high. I think I’ve proven to myself and everybody out there who ever thought I wasn’t fit for the job, I’m a world champion because I am fit for the job.”
USA coach Jill Ellis never doubted. “Dunnie had some of the best players in the world on that right side,” she said. “There are world-class players on the flanks these days. She’s done incredibly well. As good as she is, she’s still on a growth pattern. She’s world-class, but I think she would be the first to say that she wants to continue to [learn] as a world-class left back.”
Dunn was up against Lineth Beerensteyn for a good portion of the match.
“They didn’t get a lot out of that right side,” Ellis said. “In terms of neutralizing threats, she was fantastic.”
When the game ended, Dunn said she felt “relief, man, relief.”
“It was incredible,” she said. “The team performance throughout the World Cup was the hardest route we ever had to go through. Limited rest, top opponents we had to get through every single round. It was just the feeling of togetherness. Once that whistle blew, we felt like we did this all together. It wasn’t 11 people, it wasn’t 14 people. It was everyone trying to push each other.”