RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Members of Team USA’s women’s soccer squad experienced one of the most bittersweet victories of their lifetime at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain during the 5th CISM Military World Games.

Needing to win by at least two goals to advance into the medal round, Team USA scored in the second minute and struggled for 88 more before settling with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands on one of the most picturesque pitches in the world.

“Bittersweet,” said Team USA goalkeeper Navy Ensign Elizabeth Reed, who played brilliantly on July 20. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt like this after a win.

“It is good to get a win here, but we were hoping for 2-0, not 1-0. We literally walked out of the locker room right after we talked about how we had to get a jump on them and we got a goal within the first two or three minutes. It was exactly what we needed, and it was on a set piece, too.”

Air Force Capt. Amy Zwiers delivered a corner kick and Air Force Capt. Wendy Emminger of Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst, N.J., headed the ball into the Netherlands’ net for the only goal of the physical match.

Army Capt. Randee Farrell, marketing director for admissions at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., seconded Reed’s sentiment.

“We just were saying that we’ve never had a victory that felt like a loss,” said Farrell, a six-time CISM performer who served as captain of the 2011 U.S. military women’s soccer team. “They took us lightly and we were ready. We were ready for a 2-0 victory. We couldn’t pull out that second goal, but everyone left everything on the field.

“You can’t be happy when you can’t go through. We think we can take any one of the teams in this tournament, and we didn’t get the chance. You can’t do anything about it now. You can just look forward to the next time.”

Farrell was encouraged by the way her team meshed in training camp and impressed with their great start against the Netherlands, who were riding a four-match winning streak against Team USA.

“Wendy had a great goal in the beginning,” Farrell said. “We just couldn’t put that second goal away, but a win is a win. It’s a tie-breaker that we didn’t go through, but at least everyone left everything they had on the field. We played 18 people and not one person let us down. We played as a team. We were passionate throughout. We just couldn’t put that second goal in.”

Team USA coach Augustine Mendez, who has experienced a few of these heartbreaking setbacks, said he could not ask any more of his players.

“One thing I have to say is the girls played awesome,” Mendez said. “They helped each other. They played as a team. We scored early. We thought we would score another one, but sometimes soccer is that way. The Netherlands went back and they defended well.

“They pulled us and shoved us and everything, but that’s soccer. The kids say it’s a bittersweet win, but I call it a win but we lose " we’re not going anywhere.”

Katia Silva, who scored a tournament-high nine goals in three matches, and Daniele Dos Santos scored two goals apiece to lead Brazil to a 5-0 victory over Germany for the gold medal on July 24. Jessica Torny scored two goals to lead the Netherlands to a 2-0 victory over France for the bronze.

Farrell was confident that her teammates would bounce back after Conny Pohlers scored three goals to lead Germany to a 4-2 victory over Team USA in the first round of Group B play on July 18. Pohlers took nine shots for Germany, one more than the Americans managed.

Nina Mittrop opened the scoring for Germany in the 25th minute. Four minutes later, Navy Lt. jg Cianna Weilke of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., tallied for a 1-1 tie, but Pohlers scored goals in the 40th, 45th and 53rd minutes to secure the victory for Germany.

Air Force Capt. Brittney Perkowski closed the scoring with a goal in the 67th minute for Team USA.

In a consolation match, Kristen Wolverton, Rachael Emory, Emminger and Zwiers each scored a goal to lead Team USA to a 4-1 victory over Canada for fifth place on July 23. Andrea Perry scored for the Canadians.

Team USA, however, will not forget their impressive victory over the Netherlands that stung like a loss.

“It’s building for next year, as cliché as that sounds,” Farrell reiterated. “We have nothing to regret. We were ready to go. We’ll be ready for next year.”

Team USA left Brazil with a 2-1 record and resolve for the 6th CISM Military World Games, scheduled for 2015 in South Korea.

“This trip was just awesome,” said Reed, a 2010 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. “This was my first time to a CISM event and it was so much fun at night in the village with all the other countries. We actually had some pretty good friendships between the teams that we played. It was a great experience.”