Young Matildas: “One big family with one big dream.”

The Young Matildas got their FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup campaign off to a flyer, coming from behind to defeat Costa Rica 3-1.

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After conceding a free kick scored by Costa Rican captain Alexandra Pinell Gonzales – a strike that may well end up goal of the tournament – the Australians hit back. Bryleeh Henry’s goal after a quick breakaway put the youngsters in the lead after Sarah Hunter’s converted penalty moments earlier.

The result was sealed in the second half after a Young Matildas corner ricocheted off Kirsty Fenton’s head and into the back of the Costa Rican net.

Reacting after the game, goalscorers Kirsty Fenton and Bryleeh Henry both agreed that it felt “amazing” to seal the three points in their first group stage game.

“Words can’t describe it,” Fenton said. “All of the hard work that we’ve put in over the last few months was worth it for this moment.”

The game did not go all the Young Matildas way. For the first fifteen minutes or so it seemed like nothing was quite sticking for the team. However, once they found their rhythm they didn’t look back.

“Sometimes that happens,” Henry said. “You just need to keep your heads and get back into the game.” She spoke about the concept of breaking the game down into five minute blocks, and how it was successful for the Young Matildas.

“We worked hard to get back into the game after they scored, and when we scored we were able to capitalise straight afterwards,” she explained. “We just went up from there and kept rolling.”

The Young Matildas celebrated in style after Fenton’s goal in the second half, gathering together to take a ‘selfie’ with the ball. It took a moment for it to sink in for Fenton that the goal would be credited to her – but when it was, she was ecstatic.

MATCH REPORT: Young Matildas start FIFA U20 WWC campaign with a win

“I was trying to celebrate but no one was really sure,” she said. “I looked up at the screen and it said, in big letters, ‘Kirsty Fenton.’ I just thought, wow. I’ve scored at the World Cup. What a feeling.”

The raucous atmosphere was a very noticeable part of the game. For many players, the 22,000+ strong crowd at Costa Rica’s national stadium (Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica) was the largest they had played in front of. It provides an early insight into the kinds of experiences that the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup can expose our young players to.

Fenton said that she enjoyed the experience, even if the crowd was actively rooting against her and her teammates. “To be here and to experience such an atmosphere is amazing. We couldn’t even hear each other on the field, but we still brought our best game,” she said.

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