Giddy and gleeful and wild, the noise that rippled and crackled round Stadium Australia appeared to be laced, as soon as once more, with the magic that has settled on Australia for a lot of the final three weeks. All of it, in that second, felt destined, as if there was somebody, someplace, writing a script.
Just one factor had been lacking from Australia’s World Cup. The final three weeks had been full of exhilarating highs, beautiful pressure, intoxicating hope. The nation had fallen, head over heels, for the Matildas, grown unapologetically invested of their story, been captivated not simply by their success, however their spirit.
All that remained was for Sam Kerr to satisfy her promise. She had, on the eve of the match, mentioned that she wished to ship one other Cathy Freeman second, a single immediate that may be etched within the nation’s collective reminiscence.
And simply as she was working out of time to ship it, there it was, materializing in entrance of greater than 75,000 followers, sending an entire nation into raptures: Kerr, within the semifinal of a World Cup, weaving by two England defenders, driving a shot into the highest left nook of the objective guarded by Mary Earps, drawing the sport stage, maintaining the magic alive.
The factor with sports activities, although, is that they are often capricious and merciless. Australia — the stadium, the crew, the nation as an entire — was nonetheless floating when Lauren Hemp restored England’s lead eight minutes later. Australia wouldn’t have a second probability. As an alternative, England would add only a contact of gloss, ultimately profitable 3-1, taking its place in its first World Cup ultimate. It did so in a stadium that appeared to have had the air drawn from its lungs. The spell had been damaged, and so had Australia’s hearts.
There’ll, in fact, be regrets. There all the time are. What if Kerr had not injured a calf a few days earlier than the opening sport, primarily, however numerous smaller queries, too. What if Alessia Russo’s cutback for Ella Toone had been intercepted, slightly than led to England’s first objective?
What if, in these delirious couple of minutes instantly after Kerr’s equalizing strike, Australia had seized one of many glut of probabilities that got here its manner: Kerr, twice, however Cortnee Vine, too. What if Ellie Carpenter had not misjudged the lengthy ball that gave Hemp her alternative to revive England’s lead? What if Australia had discovered one other objective within the dying moments, slightly than Russo discovering England’s third?
In time, although, these questions shall be changed by one thing else. Australia could have fallen in sight of the end line. The dream that Kerr and her teammates had unfold to the remainder of the nation could have been dashed.
However as soon as the tears have dried and the frustration has settled, that isn’t the one manner this match shall be remembered right here. As an alternative, Australia will come to cherish the month wherein the Matildas served not solely to characterize their nation however, in some senses, to outline it, too.
The sport completed, Australia’s squad lingered on the sector at Stadium Australia. Kerr, particularly, was reluctant to cross the white line, to vanish beneath the duvet of the stands, to cope with the world that existed beneath the stadium. As she did so, although, hundreds of followers remained in place, applauding her efforts, thanking this Australia crew for all it has achieved. The spell had been damaged. Their hearts had been shattered. However that’s sports activities. There isn’t a purpose to have any regrets.