'Growing' Matildas shrug off criticism
THE Matildas are shrugging off criticism of their defensive lapses against world No.1 the US on Friday, asking fans to judge their progress on June 9.
That's when they'll face Italy in their World Cup opener and it's only then Australia's players believe Ante Milicic's work-in-progress game plan will bear fruit.
"We're still learning, we're still growing as a team," veteran Lisa De Vanna said after their 5-3 loss in Denver.
"That doesn't happen overnight. We're going to give ourselves a bit of time and hopefully by the time we play Italy we'll be flying."
De Vanna netted Australia's first goal in Colorado, putting paid to any thoughts she might be missing from Australia's touring party in France.
The 34-year-old may have gone without a goal in the W-League season but she has scored two under Milicic to ensure she'll attend a fourth World Cup.
While Australia were defeated by the US, the result may have sowed the seed of a winning partnership for the Matildas in France.
Milicic put Caitlin Foord, normally in the front three, behind her childhood friend Sam Kerr and saw the pair flourish.
Foord received the ball from Kerr to play in De Vanna for the opener and the pair combined again for Foord's own strike - Australia's moment of the night.
"The play opened up and Sam called a dummy. I heard it and she played me back in," Foord said.
"I was composed in front of goal and just finished it. That's been what I've been away working on so for me it was nice to finally put one in the back of the net."
If there was another star performer from Friday (AEDT) it was Ellie Carpenter, voted Australia's player of the match for her tireless work on the right flank.
The 18-year-old was plainly upset to lose the match given the Matildas' decent results against the US in the past two years but she urged perspective from fans.
"To concede five goals, well you don't want to concede any so to concede five is disappointing and frustrating," she said.
"But we definitely brought it to them and we're playing our style of play which we want to keep improving on.
"Overall it was a pretty good performance for us. What we wanted to execute we did but we're not satisfied."