A midfielder who starred in five World Cups and played six first-division seasons in the United States. Lilly often was a key member of the supporting cast behind superstars like Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm, but by the end of her career she had become a superstar in her own right.
She played for the United States for 23 years, becoming the most capped player in the history of soccer, male or female, with 352 full internationals for the United States between 1987 and 2010. Thirty of those games came in the five World Cups she played, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007, and another 17 of them were in World Cup qualifiers between 1991 and 2010. Lilly, the only woman in the world to have played in five World Cups, won two of those five, in 1991 and 1999, and reached the semifinals in the other three. She also won Olympic titles in 1996 and 2004.
Lilly, who was one of the stars of the women’s soccer dynasty at the University of North Carolina, played in all 46 of the United States’ games at the 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007 Women’s World Cups and the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games, starting 45 of those games. She was the captain of the United States team in the 2007 World Cup.
Although she was very much an attacking midfielder, with 130 goals in those 352 full internationals, probably her most famous moment in a U.S. uniform was a defensive one, when she headed a goal-bound shot off the line that would have won the 1999 World Cup final for China.
Lilly played three WUSA seasons and two WPS seasons, 2009 and 2010, all five of them for the Boston Breakers. She was chosen to the WUSA postseason all-star team in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In those five seasons, she played 93 regular-seasons games and two playoff games, and scored 20 goals.
In addition to her WUSA and WPS seasons, Lilly also played one season in the W-League, one in the Japanese professional league and one in the Swedish first division. She was chosen as the USSF women’s athlete of the year in 1993, 2005 and 2006.
Inducted in 2014.