Residents of Delran Township in New Jersey, a town of some 16,000, are still coming down from a high.
Sunday night, the community rallied around hometown hero Carli Lloyd, as she catapulted the U.S. Women’s Soccer team to victory over Japan.
As Michael Burke walked his dog by a soccer field in Delran Monday, just mentioning the name Carli Lloyd lit up his eyes.
Unsurprisingly, he was watching the game on Sunday night in rapt attention.
“I watched it with my wife, with my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my niece, and my nephew,” Burke said.
“She’s from Delran. That’s why,” he said, laughing. “What else would you do? That’s the second time since I lived here that she really kicked butt. And she really kicked butt yesterday.”
That much is true. Lloyd’s three goals in the opening 16 minutes of the game were the first hat trick in a Women’s World Cup final and the fastest series ever in any World Cup game.
Burke said every television in Delran was tuned to the championship game, including an outdoor screening hosted by a local school. And bars across the city welcomed hundreds to watching parties.
Brittany DeLiberto, a bartender at Ott’s Tavern, said she didn’t have much time to chat with Lloyd’s friends and family because the place was slammed.
“I mean, everybody was on their toes, everybody was up and cheering, and dancing around, and chanting for Carli, it was pretty cool,” DeLiberto said.
Francesca Carollo lives two doors down from the house where Carli Lloyd grew up. She remembers a young Lloyd running up to her house on warm summer afternoons.
“She was knocking at my door, ‘Can I play?’ like, you know, in my backyard, because I have a big backyard and she used to play by herself and juggle with the ball,” Carollo said. “My husband is Italian and said, ‘One day, this girl is gonna be famous.'”
Her son, Sal Carollo, agreed. “We just always looked up to her, she used to just school us, all the guys and stuff,” he said.
Carollo said everyone in Delran knew that Lloyd was bound for big things early on, but to him, her rise represents something else.
“It’s someone that came from this town, a small town in New Jersey suburbs, middleclass neighborhood, and made something for herself,” he said. “And a lot of people think in this day and age that the American Dream is over, but she’s definitely a prime example of that.”