Australia’s women’s soccer team lost to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals, and it was all thanks to Sam Kerr’s missed penalty kick.
S. Kerr Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Sam Kerr, in 2019 Nice, will never forget the weight of the hush that stretched and bent the world around her as she stood staring at the ball she had just fired over the crossbar.
After being relentlessly attacked by Norway, the Matildas found themselves in a penalty shootout for all they were worth in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.
After Norway’s star player Caroline Graham Hansen coolly buried her penalty, Australian skipper Kerr stepped up to take the first shot for her team.
The camera panned in on a face furrowed with intense thought, as if the subject were trying to factor in all the variables that have reduced contemporary football analysis to a series of equations.
As though she had too much time to ponder the situation, she could have bluffed and double-faked her way out of any situation.
Football’s real Driving Forces—Emotion, Momentum, Confidence, luck, and Intuition—were Stifled by the Math.
When Kerr came up to take a penalty for Australia in their second match of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, against Sweden, there was a similarly disorienting feeling of time dilation.
Even the camera work was eerily identical, with a slow, close-up shot of Kerr’s face as she stared fixedly at the ball she had painstakingly put there.
There’s no denying that she and everyone else watching were instantly taken back to that balmy evening in Nice, complete with the identical backwards steps, intense eyes, and deep breaths.
It was the same against Sweden;
There was a turning point where Kerr could swing things back in her team’s favour. The hush returned when the ball was moved away after bouncing off Swedish goalie Hedvig Lindahl, bringing with it the familiar sensation of having everyone’s expectations pinned on her and ultimately being let down. That is the responsibility that comes with Kerr’s newfound fame.
The deflating atmosphere of Kerr’s penalty failure in France seemed to have a domino effect that night, as the following penalty taker, Emily Gielnik, also missed.
On Saturday, Saitama seemed to experience a same phenomenon, with colour and faith draining away. Ten minutes later, they gave up a fourth goal to Sweden, and the momentum they had built up in the first half evaporated into the muggy night air.
Kerr appeared to be depleted by both the heat of Japan and that miss. With five minutes left, she had a breakaway opportunity against Lindahl, but her shot was tired and lacked conviction, as if she already knew she wouldn’t score.
Even though Kerr had already scored twice against Sweden, with two trademark headers, his team still lost.
However, no amount of heroism on her part in France was sufficient to save the team’s season.
Another comparison that can be made between the two championships is that while Sam Kerr is a once-in-a-generation player, she is still human and so has her own limitations, just like the Matildas.
Despite this, Australia did not play poorly; in fact, their match versus Sweden was, in some ways, their best performance yet under head coach Tony Gustavsson.
The Matildas have not yet put together a full 90-minute performance that clearly indicates which way they are headed, but these moments are the ones that can turn games and tournaments around, speeding them up in one direction or another.
Sweden, a team that scored four goals while seeming slow, presented a good contrast since unlike the United States, they do not rely on just one player to carry their fortunes on his or her shoulders.
That’s what you think made the difference in the end and will influence future matches between them.