You’ll have seen her flying down the wing. A dominant force in a blue pre-wrap headband and long blonde ponytail.
Ellie Carpenter has become such a fixture of this Matildas' side you sometimes forget that she is only 21.
But in Tokyo, she has once again showed age is just a number as she brought up her 50th cap for the Matildas.
If it feels like Carpenter has gotten to the half-century quickly, it’s because she has. At 21 years and 96 days she has become the second youngest Matilda to reach 50 caps; only Lisa Casagrande, who was 20 years and 226 days old, got there quicker.
When you take into account the reduction of game time due to COVID over the last 18 months, the milestone is even more impressive.
From Cowra in regional New South Wales, Carpenter’s star continues to grow brighter. It has come off the back of hard work and sacrifice not only from the 21-year-old, but her family.
The whole Carpenter clan would sometimes take her to training either in Sydney or Canberra. They amassed hours in the car and plenty of kilometres on the road.
A move to Sydney so she could attend the famed Westfields Sports High was another big step in the journey.
All of this hard work paid off when she made her senior debut at age 15. In 2016 against Vietnam, the defender made her first appearance. Later that same year she played at her first Olympics.
With pace, youthful exuberance, and unbelievable stamina, Carpenter never seems to tire. She dominated the Young Player of the Year award in the W-League and became the youngest player to play in and score in an NWSL game over in the United States.
READ: Cowra & car rides: Ellie Carpenter discusses her hometown and the long drives that helped her reach the top of women’s football
Carpenter continued to cement herself in the national team set up, featuring in four matches at the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup as well as friendlies matches and minor tournaments.
After being only a spectator for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Carpenter was selected for France 2019 and played almost every minute of Australia’s four games in that tournament. She was also crucial in the Matildas qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
The world was taking notice of the kid from Cowra and she made her big move to French powerhouse, Lyon in mid-2020. While Lyon didn’t reach the lofty heights it usually does, Carpenter was the obvious beneficiary of one of the best women’s club setups in the world.
And national team fans saw the results when she returned to the green and gold after the pandemic put a halt to Matildas activity.
She retained all of the attributes fans knew and loved. The speed, the stamina, the ability to present an attacking option down the right.
But now she was more assured in her defensive abilities, she was stronger physically, and more mature in her decision making.
As we’ve seen during the Olympics, she has also proven she has the versatility to play as a wingback, fullback, and right-sided central defender.
Australian fans have been able to witness Carpenter grow up before their eyes. Luckily, it looks like they will continue to enjoy the evolution and growth of Ellie Carpenter for many more years to come.
Kick-off for the bronze medal match is at 6:00 pm AEST on Thursday evening.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH DETAILS
Matildas v United States
6:00 pm AEST kick-off
Watch it LIVE via the Seven Network and 7plus app (check your local listings)
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