It has been a year to remember for the Westfield Matildas.
The 2019 FIFA World Cup alone was a memory to savour, but with ground-breaking pay deals, record home crowds, triumphant injury returns, big-game Sam Kerr theatrics and miracle comebacks galore, 2019 was unforgettable in more ways than one.
Read on as we recount the five most memorable moments of the year!
Spectacular Gielnik strike highlights impressive romp of Korea Republic
In their second game of 2019, the Westfield Matildas eased to a 4-1 victory over Korea Republic in the Cup of Nations at Suncorp Stadium.
It looked as though the Aussies were set for a tight encounter when Ji Yo-Sun levelled the scores after Kerr’s early penalty but, from then on, it was one-way traffic as the Westfield Matildas turned on the style.
Lisa De Vanna got her name on the scoresheet when she tucked home a simple effort from the rebound off Tameka Yallop’s saved attempt, before Kerr latched on to an errant back-pass to drive toward goal and wallop home her second of the night just before half time.
At 3-1, the game was set to drift toward a simple conclusion as the Westfield Matildas took control. But the now-Bayern Munich star Emily Gielnik was not willing to end the 90 minutes without putting her stamp on the occasion.
With 10 minutes to play, Gielnik gathered the ball near the corner flag, sized up her defender, cut onto her right boot and struck a seething shot from an impossible angle which arrowed directly into the top left corner.
It was a goal of unbelievable nature which sent the 10,000-strong crowd into a frenzy, capping off a dominant night for the Westfield Matildas in what was their first game in Queensland in five years.
The ‘Miracle in Montpellier': a win for the ages
Montpellier, France: a city Westfield Matildas players, coaches and fans will be forever attached to after Australia’s iconic come-from-behind win over Brazil at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™.
After losing against Italy in the first game of the tournament, the Westfield Matildas had their backs to the wall when Brazil opened up a two-goal lead in the first half.
Brazilian stars Marta and Cristiane found their way onto the scoresheet and with 40 minutes played it looked as though it was curtains for Australia at the FIFA Women's World Cup.
An opportunistic volley from Caitlin Foord pegged one back for the Westfield Matildas just before half time, and suddenly the comeback had a pulse.
The second half began and Chloe Logarzo struck an equaliser when her cross towards Kerr evaded all touches and bounced directly into the net.
Sniffing blood, Australia turned the screws and pushed for a winner against one of the tournament favourites, and eventually Brazil buckled.
Monica rose to clear a cross headed in Kerr’s direction but instead lobbed the ball into her own net and the Westfield Matildas were suddenly in the lead.
Westfield W-League gun Karly Roestbakken made her debut late in the game as Australia clung to their lead, registering their fifth consecutive win over Brazil, their first three points of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and an unforgettable day of football defined by Australia’s never-say-die mentality.
Kerr fires four past Jamaica at FIFA World Cup
Pumped from her side’s remarkable win over Brazil, Westfield Matildas captain Kerr made it her personal prerogative to not let her side’s next game be as close of an affair.
Four goals later, you would have to say she did her job.
It was an historic night for Kerr who scored Australia’s first-ever men’s or women’s FIFA World Cup hat-trick as the Westfield Matildas notched a fantastic 4-1 win over Jamaica in the third game of their campaign.
Kerr got her first of the night with a powerful looping header from some distance which could have only been scored by a player of her supreme calibre, before she claimed a second headed goal – this time a much more routine attempt – just before half time.
Jamaica made it interesting in the second half when Havana Solaun hit back and, from there, Jamaica began to assert themselves on the contest, creating a number of chances as Khadija Shaw became a massive threat to the Westfield Matildas defence.
But Australia found respite from Jamaica’s barrage of pressure through Kerr once more, who completed her hat-trick with a left-footed attempt from close range with 20 minutes left on the clock.
The goal put an end to Jamaica’s hopes of a comeback, but Kerr wasn’t done yet. As the game wound down to a conclusion, Kerr continued to run, chase and heap pressure on Jamaica’s defence. Her relentless pressing eventually forced a mistake from Jamaica’s goalkeeper, Nicole McClure, which led to the easiest of tap-ins for Kerr and a phenomenal fourth goal on the night.
The result progressed Australia to the knockout phase of the competition, and it was all thanks to the individual brilliance of our supreme generational superstar.
Raso’s comeback punctuated with a goal
After breaking her back in 2018, Hayley Raso completed a remarkable return to Westfield Matildas action against New Zealand at Leichhardt Oval in February.
It had been six months since the horrific injury Raso sustained playing for Portland Thorns in America’s National Women’s Soccer League, an injury which called on all of Raso’s signature fighting spirit to overcome.
But when Raso finally made her long-awaited return to the Westfield Matildas frame, she was not willing to just make up the numbers, or stop at feeling satisfied with the appearance alone; she wanted a goal to cap it off.
And she got exactly what she wanted just minutes after coming off the bench in the second half against New Zealand.
Raso joined the action with 20 minutes to play in a game which hung in the balance, as Australia nursed a 1-0 lead over the visitors in their Cup of Nations clash.
But that all changed when Amy Harrison fed Raso the ball on the edge of the box.
Raso shifted the ball onto her right foot, showing a blistering turn of pace to get free in the box and hammered home the goal which sealed both a 2-0 win for Australia and Raso’s status as a true Aussie fighter who cannot be defeated.
Record crowd on hand for Westfield Matildas tight win over Chile
A momentous occasion occurred in Western Sydney when the Westfield Matildas hosted Chile in a friendly game in front of more than 20,000 fans at Bankwest Stadium in November this year.
The 20,029 fans which packed the stunning new stadium eclipsed the previous Westfield Matildas record crowd of 16,829 registered when they played Brazil in Newcastle in 2017.
The fans had come out in their droves and got exactly what they wanted just minutes into the game when Kerr struck the opener.
A tense tussle ensued after Australia grabbed an early lead but Kerr put the game to bed with another goal in the second half – her 40th for club and country in 2019 – which gave the hosts a two-goal cushion.
Chile struck back late through Camila Sáez but it proved inconsequential to the result, as the Westfield Matildas notched a 2-1 win in the first of their two friendlies against Chile in a week.
But the result took a back seat on a day which highlighted the growing popularity of both the Westfield Matildas in Australia and women’s football in general, which received an enormous boost of interest worldwide from the tremendous success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.™