4-3 against Great Britain. My heart was in my throat for most of the match. I had the full wave of emotions, from throwing my beanie in frustration to jumping to my feet screaming with pure joy. If there had been a swear jar I would’ve needed to take out a loan to pay it back with the amount of f-bombs I dropped.
My word what a game. Here’s some bits and pieces to think about.
I have so many things I’d like to say to TG. First thank you for your passion. It’s clear as mud, clear as how good a well cooked fried egg sandwich is, that you love this team over the short time you’ve got to know us.
The celebrations, the anticipation. You were there with each of us fans for every step of the way. Whenever the camera switched over, you were giving the emotion that each of us were.
I know we’ve already welcomed you into the family, but it’s a bit like a new partner being introduced to the family and going on to cement themselves in the tribe. You’ve done that now. So welcome.
It was a bold move to break away from the chains of 4-3-3 Matildas past. Being daring enough to sit players on the bench who are normally staples. Being even more daring in placing trust in youth to play big, game changing roles when the pressure is hot.
Being daring enough to lose too. It’s not easy going into matches with a focus on the bigger idea and being fearless in keeping with that when it could mean it looks bad on paper.
Making it to the semi-final is a direct product of that daring.
Even the decision to switch out centre backs, with Kennedy starting and Polkinghorne on the bench was eye raising. But it produced the opening goal scorer.
It’s been about the bigger picture from the start. The home World Cup was always the true goal. And that’s still clear from some of the things that need tightening up, tweaking and practice.
But a semi final under a new coach who came into the Olympics without a win under his belt with this team? That’s impressive.
There’s so much to unpack from the equaliser just in the nick of time to force the match into extra time.
Not only was it a roller coaster, emotional and beautiful. It was how it was taken.
The frenzy that was the penalty area at that moment.
When the ball popped into the path of Kerr. You could see her first instinct to smash and grab. The likely smash off target, or at the keeper, or any number of other, non-goal-ending things. But the instinct passed, Kerr took a split second to get her bearings, aware that she was unmarked and the composure to make sure it went in.
In a normal season game, that’s not the easiest of things to do. To do that in the 89th minute of a quarter-final when you’re 2-1 down? That’s special.
Never say die hey.
Goalkeeper, my goalkeeper
It’s been the major talking point of this tournament. Go with Williams or Micah. You guys know the band wagon I’ve been on for a while now. But after this quarter final, there’s proof in the pudding.
Micah stood up. Not only stood up, saved a penalty, she made back-to-back-to-back stunning saves and was resolute between the sticks.
Every great team needs a brilliant goalkeeper. Micah is the next generation of brilliant goalkeepers. The time for that next generation is now here.
We know she isn’t shy to pull the trigger.
During times where many of us yell at the tv “just shoot farken”, Fowler is a breath of fresh air. To get the goal to pull the Matildas ahead during extra time is special. Wild deflection yes. But that wouldn’t have happened had Fowler not taken the shot.
Work in progress
Defence. The added protection of a back three that turns into a back five has provided more protection and is fundamental to why we’ve made it this far. But it’s still our problem child.
Leaving Ellen White unmarked in the box once is deadly. Do it three times and we should be licking our wounds with a defeat. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. Our attack pulled through, where we looked far more comfortable in attack and with the ball than we did without it.
The structure is coming. Off the ball we are getting players behind the ball and moving as a block. However there’s still some of the little things defensively that needs improvement in the long run. Does that improvement come from finding alternative players for positions? Perhaps by 2023 this will be the case.
Right now, the formation we play is a band aid covering reality. That reality is we often have loose players in the box and can be left scrambling, especially if the pace of Carpenter and Catley aren’t available or enough to make up for silly mistakes. Like leaving Ellen White unmarked in the box.
THE SEMI FINAL
We have Sweden next. We know what to expect. The result last time round didn’t reflect how tight the match actually was.
What do we bring to the table to mix things up?
Starting Fowler is a good place to start. Will Polkinghorne and Kennedy start together? Would that push Luik into midfield and see van Egmond or Yallop sit out? Or do we inject an ankle bitter in Logarzo that we’ve not done against Sweden before?
Either way, bring on Monday.