Written by the Football Federation Australia
The Matildas almost pulled off a miraculous draw with the world number 2 ranked USA in Cary (USA) today, but had to settle for a 3-2 loss in a highly entertaining game that was delayed because of severe thunderstorm just prior to the match.
The number two team in women's football appeared to be cruising with a 2-0 lead heading into the final 10 minutes of the match but late goals from Kate Gill (86th minute) and Australian captain Cheryl Salisbury (88th) saw the scores tied at 2-2 heading into extra time .
But there was one more twist to come. The USA won a free kick 30 metres out, with the cross punched into the air by Matildas goalkeeper, Lydia Williams, only to see it fall to American midfielder Carli Lloyd who headed the ball into the back of the net to seal a dramatic win for the home side.
Torrential rain prior to kick-off saw the match delayed by almost an hour but when the match finally did get underway both teams had good chances to score early.
Williams made a splendid save in the 7th minute to deny Lloyd, while Sarah Walsh was denied by a great save in the 20th minute by the US keeper Hope Solo.
Four minutes later, after sustained pressure, Walsh went even closer to the opening goal, when a corner was played out to Kyah Simon, who headed towards goal. Walsh flicked it on but she saw her effort cleared off the line by the defence.
With the US pressing, they took the lead when Natasha Kai slotted home in 35th minute after a great pass into the box from Lloyd.
Early in the second half it became 2-0 when Amy Rodriguez made a 35 yard run before crossing to Abby Wambach who headed home for her 93rd international goal.
Australia’s enterprising endeavour however was rewarded in the 86th minute, with a goal to substitute Gill. Heather Garriock, playing her 100th full international, was the architect, when her cross to the far post found Gill at the back post to head home from an acute angle.
A minute later, Jo Burgess made her way into the penalty box and her cross inside was judged to have been handled by Lori Chalupny resulting in a penalty. Salisbury's initial spot kick was brilliantly blocked by Solo, but the rebound came back to the Australian captain, who needed no second invitation to head home and level the scores.
But a late charge by the home side saw them score in injury time and come away with the 3-2 win.
Matildas Coach Tom Sermanni said the Australians did well to stay in the match after falling behind.
"The pitch drained well and it was very slick and created a fast-paced match which suited the USA more than us," said Sermanni.
"The team responded well to going two goals behind. When you are playing the number one team in the world you could throw in the towel at that point but we didn't and that was very pleasing.
"Having said that, it was disappointing to get it back to 2-2 and then concede again but we did superbly well to draw level.
"The USA has played at least a dozen matches against top teams and there was a bit of a difference in match fitness but we did well to come back late in the game," Sermanni said.
The Matildas will play their second match against the USA on Saturday 3 May in Birmingham, Alabama and Sermanni indicated he will make some changes.
"Several players who didn't start will be given an opportunity in the next match," added Sermanni.
"We had the chance to give some of the younger players their first really tough international match today and they played well especially Lydia Williams who made some great saves in difficult conditions."
Sermanni also paid tribute to Garriock who became the youngest Australian footballer to reach 100 caps.
"Heather had a tremendous game and it's testimony not only to her ability but her commitment that she has reached this milestone," said Sermanni.
"She is a player who you can pick every game. She is always available and it says a lot about her character and commitment ."
"Over the three and a bit years I have been in charge she has matured into a seasoned professional international player.