Matildas hero Katrina Gorry has revealed she was playing with a heavy heart on Saturday night after the death of her partner's father just 48 hours earlier. Gorry has been one of the Matildas' best during their incredible run to the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup, and came up clutch with a crucial spot-kick as Australia beat France in a penalty shootout on Saturday night.
But speaking to reporters after the game, Gorry revealed the devastating personal tragedy that she and partner Clara Markstedt have been dealing with. Matildas players were all wearing black armbands during the game for Markstedt's father.
"My fiancee's dad passed away a couple of nights ago," she said. "It has been a tough 48 hours for me but it was a nice night for me to be with him.
"My head has been everywhere tonight but I know I have full support, not just here, but the family in Sweden too. Tonight, I just wanted to make him proud.
"Football is my happy place. Everything just leaves when you get on the field and when you have the girls backing you up every step of the way you have so much belief.
"Clara is over in Sweden. She went back when it all happened. I'm glad she is there with her family but definitely wish I could be there for her."
Katrina Gorry's immense display in historic Matildas win
Gorry, who turned 31 on Sunday, stepped up in a high-pressure situation during Saturday night's penalty shootout. She nailed the first sudden-death spot-kick when a miss would have sent the Matildas packing. In a beautiful moment she made a 'rocking the baby' gesture afterwards in a nod to her daughter Harper.
"It was tough, but every moment we locked with teammates' eyes we had the belief that if it came to it we could go right to the end, to penalties, and win," she said. "It went for a lot longer than we expected. We put on a show. I am glad the Brissie crowd got behind us. We really needed them."
Gorry was enormous in defence for the Matildas', helping keep France off the scoreboard when they had nine shots on goal in the first half. She also laid n two through-balls for Hayley Raso and Mary Fowler to provide the Matildas their best attacking chances of the first period.
The smallest player on the field intercepted two French passes to shut down attacking raids and had a brilliant confrontation with French skipper Wendie Renard - the game's tallest. Gorry was then handed a yellow card after a fierce challenge on Sakina Karchaoui early in the first period of extra time, with the French team in no doubt that she wasn't going to be stopped
Gorry's penalty, taken so calmly when the weight of the country was on her shoulders, iced her classy all-round display in brilliant fashion. "I just wanted to keep calm, do what I practised and believe that I could take the shot and get the ball in the back of the net," she said. "I knew if I hit it with enough power it was going to go in. I am just glad it came off."
When do the Matildas play England in World Cup semi-final?
The Matildas will now play England in the semi-finals on Wednesday night at 8pm for a place in the final. England advanced after beating Colombia 2-1 later on Saturday night.
"My belief that this team can do anything had been there before tonight," coach Tony Gustavsson said. "I genuinely believe this team can create history in so many ways, not just winning football games but in the way they can inspire the next generation and unite the nation. That is why I believe in them so much."
Captain Sam Kerr said of winning the whole thing: "That's what we're here for. But one game at a time. We're not going to get this far and then get too far ahead of ourselves."
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