Year-end cheers to Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach, the heart and soul of the United States' Women's World Cup team that inspired the nation this summer, has been named the female athlete of the year by The Associated Press.

Her signature moment came in the quarterfinal against Brazil.

Down a player for almost an hour, the Americans were less than 90 seconds from losing in overtime after squandering an early lead. But in the 122nd minute, Wambach rose above the Brazilian defenders and scored on a header, setting off pandemonium in the stadium.

"It just seemed surreal. Even in the moment, I was feeling like it was a dream because we were so against the ropes and everything was pointed to us going down that day," Wambach said. "But there was something inside of us that wasn't going to allow that to happen. We weren't quite ready to give up."

Wambach led the Americans to the final, where they lost to Japan on penalty kicks.

The 31-year-old ranks third on the U.S. career scoring list with 125 goals, trailing only Mia Hamm (158) and Kristine Lilly (130).

"Hopefully when I'm long gone, this team is so good that people don't even talk about (me)," she said. "Truthfully."

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