Call it the most dramatic finish in Women's World Cup soccer history.
The United States team, which had been stymied by questionable calls throughout its quarterfinal game on Sunday, was down a goal in overtime and playing a man down after a controversial red card during the second half.
With seconds ticking away in stoppage time after a bogus faked injury by a Brazilian opponent, team USA had under a minute left to play, time for just one more attack.
Driving the length of the field, the Americans somehow believed they could rally to the win. The poor officiating and the dubious antics by the Brazilian team seemed to turn the German stadium toward the Americans, so it was no longer a minority of American voices in the crowd.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe launched a cross from the left flank which flew by the lunging Brazilian goaltender, off the head of veteran Abby Wambach and into the back of the net.
Wambach, seemingly in shock, celebrated by sliding across the sideline and was tackled by her teammates.
The stunning equalizer forced a penalty-kick shootout that allowed American goaltender Hope Solo to shine. Solo made a brilliant diving block on the third penalty kick to give her team the advantage. Then Ali Krieger's PK sealed the deal: An amazing come-from-behind victory, born out of the sheer determination of Team USA.
Their Swedish-born coach called the win a testament to the American attitude.
Ironically, this thrilling win came on the 12th anniversary of the 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup soccer championship. That final game against China, which also ended in penalty kicks, was the most-watched women's sporting event in history.
It sparked new interest not only in soccer, but in all of women's athletics by fans, advertisers, and the media. That special team, including Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and others inspired a generation of little girls to pursue their dreams, not in high heels and skirts, but in shorts and spikes.
Today, just one player from that historic 1999 squad remains on the U.S. Women's World Cup team. Captain, Christie Rampone is the only mother in the American line-up.
Perhaps more than any player on the field, she can see the growth of the game of soccer, and the progress of women's athletics first-hand. Her two daughters will not know the struggles faced by their mother's generation, which scrapped and clawed for the opportunities and the resources to play the game they love.
Sunday's World Cup quarterfinal drew the largest television audience for the tournament in a dozen years; that remarkable win can only help to once again boost all of women's athletics.
This inspiring team graces the covers of magazines, and is endorsed by dozens of sponsors. But these elite women are the product of decades of hard work and sacrifice by those who came before them, and the idols of little girls on soccer fields across the country dreaming of wearing the red, white and blue.
Team USA is just two wins away from another epic championship, though it's hard to believe either of those games could possibly top the drama of their never-say-die quarterfinal triumph, and the impact the squad has already had on women's athletics in America.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at email@example.com. Her column appears on Tuesdays.