The Matildas must not forget Katrina Gorry before the 2023 World Cup | Women’s A League

WWith less than 60 seconds to play in regulation time of Brisbane Roar’s clash with Melbourne Victory, Natalie Tathem – making her comeback from a 12-month-old ACL injury – sank in the right flank before delivering a low cross that Shea Connors, fair, reached for a packet over the goal line first. After trailing 2-0 at halftime on an own goal and a lucky effort from Lynn Williams, the Queenslanders were finally on the safe side of a late comeback, with a 3-2 lead that stuck. quickly turned to 4-2 after Norrie added a sealer in the 96th minute.

In the aftermath of Connors’ goal, however, as the rest of her teammates got back into position for the kick-off, Katrina Gorry’s only tiny figure fled: spent after achieving a player-of-the-match performance that had not only inspired the Roar to his first win of the season, but reminded everyone that, despite all the excitement surrounding a new generation of Matildas brought by Tony Gustavsson, a potential response to the predicament of the national team in midfield may reside in the recovery of the 2014 AFC Women’s Player of the Year.

Less than six months after childbirth and less than three after writing She wasn’t sure if she was going to be available for the first round, Gorry quickly reappeared as one of Roar’s most important figures during the fledgling 2021-22 A-League Women’s season and, assuming that she continues on her current trajectory, one of the best players in the competition. After coming off the bench in his team’s first two games and only managing 45 minutes in the third round loss to Victory, Gorry spent 90 minutes in each of the final two rounds. Oddly enough, these two games were the first in which Roar has collected points this season. Despite her limited action and role in midfield, she ranks eighth in the league for shots on target every 90 minutes among qualifying players.

On Sunday, the 29-year-old was an integral part of Roar’s attempts to advance the ball onto the pitch, served as an important touchstone – and stabilizer – for her team in possession, and scored an equalizer that went no further. only demonstrated what she is capable of. to produce with the ball at her feet but also how she is able to operate without the ball to make it all possible.

With extra room to operate in midfield thanks to Kyra Cooney-Cross’s red card, she slipped to Mindy Barbieri’s right to show a pass from Mariel Hecher, adjusting her roster so she could receive a ball at the feet – itself a rare request in restricted areas of Australian football. Her Brazilian teammate found her and she attacked the space offered by a retreating four-way victory. Before Emma Robers had a chance to cross, she went on a rampage with a chipped effort that perfectly flew over the head of Victory keeper Melissa Maizels. She was mobbed by teammates, but not before a rock-the-baby celebration directed at her daughter Harper in the stands of AAMI Park – a dedication to her first goal since becoming a mother to her new baby .

This star turn from Gorry came in direct competition with the breakout player from Matildas Cooney-Cross was appropriate. While both are arguably better performing higher up the pitch, the pair’s better path to national team minutes under Gustavsson through 2023 likely means competing for a deep midfielder role. And although Gorry’s performance was not perfect – a lazy 30th minute turnover indicating both some level of rust and a lingering preference to play the ball to familiar teammate and compatriot Matilda Larissa Crummer – she won the battle between the two Sundays.

Both bring their own strengths and weaknesses but, as Gorry has already begun to suggest upon her return this season, she possesses a rare skill set; self-control under pressure and the ability to make good decisions quickly. Such attributes set her apart from her contemporaries and make her considerably more press resistant than most Australian options in the midfield. Taking into account Matildas’ issues facing defenses with the ability to prevent transition and force them to break a low block, his ability to move the game forward by passing forward rather than side to side. other, by dribbling between the lines, or simply taking positions that force a defensive reaction – and, by extension, open space for others – present themselves as a potentially crucial weapon when the world descends on Australia and New Zealand for the 2023 World Cup.

Is this the case with one or the other? Absolutely not. At just 19 years old, Cooney-Cross represents the future of the Matildas and, as she matures and gains exposure to top football – potentially in a big European league – she can only improve on an already impressive. But in an environment of considerable hype on Cooney-Cross, Mary Fowler, Clare Wheeler and more, don’t forget Gorry. This month’s Asian Cup may be a bridge too far, but 2023 – a goal she has set for herself – looms large.

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