With all but who would hoist the trophy decided, the finalists and their supporters amassed in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday to play the final of the 2015 Women's World Cup.
It has taken twenty match-days to reach this point, and what a month-long event it has been. 52 matches featuring 24 teams from six confederations, playing in six Canadian cities to determine who would be named World Champions.
From that vast field, just two teams remained: Japan and the USA. Those two also met in the final when last this tournament was played back in 2011 in Germany, the Japanese taking the trophy 3-1 on spot kicks after a 2-2 draw.
Primed for a tense and entertaining final, especially after extra time and penalty kicks were required to separate the sides in 2011, fans who caught the match could be forgiven if they were surprised by how quickly it was over.
Goals in the third, fifth, fourteenth, and sixteenth all but ended the match, with the USA romping to an unforeseeable 4-0 lead before Japan could break a sweat.
Carli Lloyd scored the first in the third minute, arriving from deep to the penalty spot on a low corner kick, burying her left-footer past Japanese keeper, Ayumi Kaihori. And she would add the second two minutes later when a right-sided free-kick was hit low into the box. Julie Johnston touched it on, where it fell to Lloyd in the middle to touch in off a defender or two.
Lauren Holiday would score the third in the fourteenth minute, capitalizing on a poor defensive header that sent the ball spinning high into the air. Holiday arrived at the right-side of the area, meeting the falling projectile with a right-footed volley, hammering past the shell-shocked Kaihori.
And come the sixteenth minute, Lloyd would complete her hat-trick in the most spectacular of fashions.
Having spotted Kaihori off her line, Lloyd unleashed a right-footed effort from the half-way line, sailing a shot from great height towards the Japanese goal. Kaihori did her best to recover, but stumbled in the process and could only get a weak hand to it, helping it over the line.
Stunned, Japan would not give up, pulling one back in the 27th minute through Yuki Ogimi when Nahomi Kawasumi played a ball in from the right. Johnston overplayed the pass, allowing it to come to Ogimi, who easily turned the defender and beat Hope Solo with a left-footer placed high to the left-side of goal.
The remainder of the first half would play out without any further goals, offering the Nadeshiko Japan a chance to catch their breath and regain composure after a stunning start.
When play resumed for the second half, Japan looked eager to make amends, adding a second goal and drawing within two in the 52nd minute when a deep free-kick from Aya Miyama was touched towards her own-goal by Johnston, who was preoccupied with making Homare Sawa – recall it was Sawa who scored the extra time equalizer in the 117th minute to send the 2011 final to penalties.
But any hopes of a Japanese comeback were ended when the Stars and Stripes responded two minutes later through Tobin Heath.
Heath touched in from the middle with a right-footer after a left-sided corner kick fell all the way through the box to Morgan Brian, who drilled a low ball back into the middle.
Though more than a half-hour remained, that quick American response to the Japanese life-line sucked the vitality out of any chance at a comeback, though they put in a brave effort, the Japanese were soundly beat and the Americans saw out the rest of the match without major incident.
American coach Jill Ellis took the opportunity to bring on veterans Abby Wambach and Christine Rampone, the only remaining member of the squad that last won the Cup for the Americans.
And with the 5-2 win, the USA claims their third-ever title and their first since 1999.
Prior to the raising of the World Cup, the individual awards were dispensed. Lloyd won the Golden Ball and the Silver Boot, while Japan's Aya Miyama took the Bronze ball and Solo was awarded the Golden Glove.
The Golden Boot went to Germany's Celia Sasic and her teammate, Anja Mittag, took the Bronze Boot. Amandine Henry of France took the Silver Ball, while Canada's Kadeisha Buchanan was on hand to receive a well-deserved Young Player Award. France took home the Fair PlayAward.
And so, the 2015 rendition of the Women's World Cup came to a close with the Americans raising the cup, winning on Canadian soil, while Japan, England, and Germany completed the top four. Hosts Canada officially finished in sixth-place.
146 goals were scored – setting a new mark for tournament total – while more than 1.3 million fans attended games – also a new high; though it should be noted this edition had more teams and thus more matches.
It has been a lot of fun hosting and covering the action, thanks for following along.