U.S. National Soccer Star Kristine Lilly is named 2016 Scheels Sports “Nice Gal” Award winner. As one of the most successful and decorated female athletes in U.S. history, Lilly retired from the U.S. Women’s National Team as the world’s all-time appearance leader, with 352 caps. She captained the Team from 2005-2007. Lilly debuted for the U.S. on Aug. 3, 1987, in the 16th match ever played by the U.S. Women’s National Team. She was only 16 years and 12 days old, the second youngest player ever to don a U.S. jersey, behind Mia Hamm. Lilly is also the oldest player to earn a cap by more than three years. Lilly played in every match the U.S. Women’s National Team ever played in World Cup and Olympic competition (starting in all but one), until 2008 when she had to miss the Olympics because she was pregnant with her daughter. She scored 130 goals in her career, second again only to Hamm. Lilly is the only woman to play in five FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions, winning the tournament in 1991 and 1999. Lilly was also a member of three Olympic teams, winning gold in 1996 and 2004, and silver in 2000.
As a member of the historic ’99 Woman’s World Cup championship winning team, Lilly played every minute of all six games, contributing two goals, including the clinching goal in the opening game victory against Denmark. During the sudden death overtime in the final against China, she made one of the biggest plays of the tournament when she cleared a Chinese shot off the goal line with her head to send the game to penalty shots. Lilly then scored the crucial third penalty kick in the shootout to put the U.S. ahead in the count, before Hamm and Chastain sealed the victory, and with it, the Woman’s World Cup championship.