(CNN) — Her career has been a rollercoaster both on and off the pitch, but USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo produced a display that one teammate described as “freaking huge.”
Solo’s performance in the USWNT’s 3-1 win over Australia in its opening 2015 Women’s World Cup match rekindled memories of Tim Howard’s heroics in last year’s men’s World Cup.
Solo had gone into the match in Winnipeg under something of a storm.
The 33-year-old has been embroiled in a domestic violence case since June 2014, though charges against her were dismissed by a judge in Washington state in January.
However later that month, Solo was suspended by U.S. Soccer for 30 days following “an incident that occurred during a WNT training camp being held in Carson, California.”
Solo’s husband, former pro football player Jerramy Stevens, was charged with driving under the influence in Manhattan Beach, California, about 12 miles from Carson. The Los Angeles Times reported that Solo was in the passenger seat.
Solo missed the U.S. team’s matches in France and England in February, but she was back to her best and was the USWNT’s team outstanding player in Winnipeg.
“I am perfectly focused, sir, perfectly focused,” Solo responded when asked if her preparations had been affected by new details ESPN provided ahead of the match against Australia.
USWNT team media officials then cut short Solo’s interview.
Her first standout moment came after just five minutes when she tipped Emily van Egmond’s shot onto the bar and out for a corner.
She then produced another show-stopping save, getting down low to her right to deny Samantha Kerr what would have been a sublime volley just seconds after the Americans had taken the lead.
“Hope Solo was freaking huge,” star player Megan Rapinoe told Fox Sports. “I think she had three saves that I don’t think anybody else in the world can make.”
“It was a little bit of a shaky game for us, especially the first 30 minutes. It’s big and obviously the first tournament for a lot of people, only my second, so to get out of here with three points is huge.”
Despite all of Solo’s efforts in goal, there was still work to be done at the other end — and 35-year-old veteran Rapinoe duly obliged.
Her deflected effort from distance after 12 minutes deceived Aussie ‘keeper Melissa Barbieri to open the scoring.
Lisa De Vanna found a way past Solo 15 minutes later before Christen Press restored the U.S.’s lead just after the hour mark.
Rapinoe sealed the win on 78 minutes, a mazy dribble and finish that she described as her “best Lionel Messi impression.”
“Megan thrives in these big games, big moments,” U.S. Coach Jill Ellis said in a post-match press conference. “She’s got ice running through her veins, but a lot of passion inside of her. She’s a game-changer. And that’s what makes her special.”
“I probably shoot too much,” joked Rapinoe. “It doesn’t matter what kind of shot it is for me — I’ll take it.”
“A couple bits of class in the end from Rapinoe changed the game,” said Alen Stajcic, the Australian coach.
The U.S. will be hoping for more moments of magic from Solo and Rapinoe when it plays Sweden on Friday.