Abby Wambach voted AP’s top female athlete (Soccer Saturday)

Abby Wambach, whose thunderous header in the final seconds of the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals against Brazil led the U.S. to an improbable victory and sparked a nationwide frenzy rarely seen for women’s sports, has been voted Female Athlete of the Year.

The 31-year-old forward won the award handily, receiving 65 of the 214 votes cast by members of the Associated Press. Teammate Hope Solo (38 votes) was second, and UConn basketball player Maya Moore (35) was third.

Wambach is the first individual soccer player – man or woman – to win one of the AP’s annual athlete awards, which began in 1931. The U.S. women’s team won in 1999, when its World Cup triumph at the Rose Bowl captured the country’s imagination.

“We, as a team, did something that no team since Mia Hamm was able to do,” Wambach said. “Even the team that won the (Olympic) gold medal in 2008 wasn’t able to inspire and get people excited about women’s soccer. It goes to show you the impact drama can bring.”

— Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was suspended for eight matches and fined $62,000 after being found guilty of directing a racial insult at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black.

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