While the Matildas loss was a devastating blow for the team and fans, it is impossible to look past the exceptional performance by Lydia Williams.
Like the rest of her teammates, Williams summed up her post-match feelings in one word: heartbroken.
“You never really want to go out on a penalty shootout, especially when you work so hard to get back in the game,” she said.
Williams was a key part of the Matildas effort to level the scores and get themselves back in the game, pulling off multiple diving saves and getting her fingertips to the ball when it mattered most. However, she remained humble, crediting her defence for making her job that bit easier.
“The girls did a great job to really try and narrow it down to shot stopping; there wasn’t really anyone on ones or anything like that. For me that’s my niche, I like to do a lot of shot stopping, it’s how I kind of grew up in the game.”
Reminding herself of her past experiences was how she managed to keep her nerves under control heading into the game.
“I went in and I was just thinking that I just have to do the best that I can for the team. It was a little bit nerve-wracking but it wasn’t the first time I’ve been in a knock out round. The pressure is a little bit heightened but it’s still a football game.”
While the game may be the same the conditions were slightly different given the recent focus on goalkeepers committing fouls during penalties by moving off their line.
“Obviously you’ve seen it all tournament and then the rule got changed only a day or two ago, again for the knock out rounds. It definitely plays on you, especially if you’ve been training a certain way for years of taking penalties and then all of a sudden it gets changed prior to a tournament. It’s difficult to change your technique.”
The Norwegians were clinical. The Matildas weren't.— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) June 22, 2019
Australia bows out of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 France after a loss on penalties.#OptusSport #FIFAWWC #NORAUS #NOR #AUS pic.twitter.com/vfAW026JXW
Williams needed to change her technique so she could generate the same kind of momentum that comes with being able to take a step forward or to the side without moving off her line or giving an indication to the penalty taker on which side to aim for.
She thinks this might not be as much of an issue for male keepers as it might be for females.
“Men are a little bit different obviously they’re a lot more powerful and bigger so maybe that one step they can actually get to those corner ones but for women, you have to get that extra step in and that’s where the difficult part comes. Just the lateral and you take an extra step and if the penalty taker can read you then they’ll just roll it the other side.”
Aside from dealing with increased scrutiny from the VAR, Williams does not feel too much pressure as a keeper when it comes to a penalty shootout situation.
“For keepers the pressure is off them but in saying that when they got two and we didn’t have one on the board yet, you feel a little bit of the pressure but Norway were clinical with their penalties tonight and this is one thing that we’re going to grow on and get better for next time.”
A focus on next time and moving forward is already a priority for the Matildas who will look to grow from their World Cup experiences as they head into Olympic qualifiers.
“We’ve just grown as a group again. We haven’t made it easy, we’ve come from I guess the back, in the group rounds and then we’ve come from behind here and that’s only going to make us stronger and I think it’s just another maturity level.”
While Williams may be focusing on the more immediate future she hasn’t completely ruled out the idea of taking part in the next World Cup.
“Tomorrow I’m probably going to be quite sore but we’ll see...I’ll let you know tomorrow.”