Dream ends as Matildas lose FIFA World Cup semi-final to England
The Matildas lost the semi-final against England’s Lionesses in a match of missed chances that will be remembered as the one that got away – but the big wins for women’s sport will last forever
READING LEVEL: GREEN
Australia’s exhilarating ride was ended by England as the Matildas exited the FIFA Women’s World Cup in heartbreaking fashion.
A Sam Kerr classic couldn’t save Australia, as England claimed a 3-1 semi-final win to advance to Sunday’s decider against Spain.
After nearly six weeks of joy, celebration and anticipation, the journey to the big trophy came to an end.
The Matildas will play off for third place against Sweden on Saturday in Brisbane.
A rough England team, willing to foul* the Matildas to stop their momentum*, drew calls* throughout the game from the 75,784 fans inside Stadium Australia, whose hopes of seeing the first Australian team make a football World Cup final were buried.
England took the lead in the 36th minute when Ella Toone smashed the ball into the top right corner from a throw-in set play, and England took that 1-nil lead to the break.
But Sam Kerr’s moment of brilliance arrived, as Australia’s captain pulled her side back into the contest with a magnificent* long-range strike off a counter. With three defenders surrounding her, Kerr unleashed* a 95km/hr rocket into the top left corner, bringing English goalkeeper Mary Earps to her knees.
But a defensive lapse by Ellie Carpenter allowed Lauren Hemp to pounce for a sharp goal in the 71st minute.
Kerr’s equaliser attempt in the 85th minute went over the bar. The next minute, England countered and Alessia Russo ended Australia’s hopes.
Nevertheless, sport will never be the same in Australia.
Just as we still speak of Cathy Freeman’s amazing Olympic gold medal-winning run two decades ago, Australians will never forget how the Matildas united Australia in 2023, like no sports team had ever done before.
The national gathering of green and gold-clad fans for a single sporting event was unprecedented*.
A sold-out Stadium Australia was expected, but packed live sites included Allianz Stadium and CommBank Stadium in Sydney, AAMI Park in Melbourne, Sunshine Coast Stadium in Queensland, not to mention the fan gatherings at Sydney’s Tumbalong Park, Melbourne’s Federation Square, Brisbane’s South Bank, Adelaide’s Festival Plaza, Darwin’s Waterfront, Perth’s Forrest Place, Canberra’s Garema Place and Hobart’s Princes Wharf.
All of them full of people cheering, shouting and hoping.
There were countless venues across the land where time stood still.
And even with all those choosing that electric group atmosphere outside over their own loungerooms, the match still broke television viewership records.
The Matildas have harnessed this support and become a force like no other.
Reports suggested their brand has skyrocketed in value five-fold, from $40 million to $210 million in the past month. But it’s bigger than dollars.
A survey conducted just two months ago revealed most Australians couldn’t recognise a single Matildas player aside from Sam Kerr. They’re now as familiar as our highest profile NRL and AFL stars.
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold is well aware that her team has transcended* sport.
“The legacy* we wanted to leave throughout this World Cup, to inspire the next generation coming though, I think we’ve done more than that, we’ve done more than we thought we would accomplish,” Arnold said.
“To see the reaction we’ve received from the whole country has been absolutely unreal, and this is only the beginning, there’s much more to come.”
England coach Sarina Wiegman added: “I’m aware that this is very, very special and that what happens in the growth of the women’s game, the level has really grown, so worldwide people see what’s going on.
“I hope that helps women in football but women in general too.”
For years, female athletes have pleaded* for attention, equality, opportunity.
The Tillies have shown us that not only can the investment be worthwhile, it can pay off beyond measure.
There was a young generation of Australians watching the match on Wednesday night who had no idea that there was ever a time people would laugh at, belittle, mock or ignore
women’s sport. This Matildas tournament was a game changer.
- foul: against the rules, unsportsmanlike behaviour
- momentum: force or speed of something in motion, when things appear to be going your way
- magnificent: spectacular, impressive, glorious
- unleashed: released, let loose, set free
- unprecedented: never seen before
- transcended: go beyond, rise above a limit, be greater than something ordinary
- legacy: part of history that remains for a long time
- pleaded: begged, lobbied, petitioned
- What was the final score in the Matildas’ match against the Lionesses?
- Who scored for Australia?
- Who will Australia play for third place?
- How many people attended Sydney’s Stadium Australia for the semi-final?
- Who scored the last goal of the match and for which team?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. What really makes a champion?
“Winning the game is not what makes you a champion.” Write a story that starts with this sentence.
Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Personal and Social Capability
“The Matildas should be the next Australians of the Year!” Design a poster based on this – make it convincing.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Visual Communication Design
What an epic game for the FIFA Woman’s World Cup Semi-Final. Both teams put in tremendous effort and should be proud of their efforts.
Unfortunately, some people missed the game live. It’s time to help them out with some guest commentary.
A commentator tells the events that are happening live in front of them. They describe step-by-step as the event is played out. For a soccer match, they talk about everyone in the game. They might comment on how the teams are playing, or discuss individual efforts. They put in lots of emphasis and emotion to keep the audience engaged, which is usually achieved through a mix of short, sharp sentences and emotion. Recall the game last night, or use the article to pick a few key events to commentate around.
Is how you wrote the commentary similar to how you write a story? What is the same or different? Why do you think that is? What do you notice about the sentence during key moments, like attempts at goal?
Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete the task
Curriculum Links: English, Big Write, VCOP