‘Devastation’ was the universal word on Team GB’s tongues after the women’s football squad fell in the Olympic quarter finals—and it’s easy to understand the heartache.
Alanna Kennedy had given Australia the lead before a quick-fire double from White turned the game on its head.
Prior to Sam Kerr’s equaliser, GB, for whom Sophie Ingle came off the bench in extra-time, had looked to be in control, but as they dropped deeper and deeper, the pressure eventually told.
In extra-time Mary Fowler’s deflected strike put Australia back in front before Kerr notched a second. And despite Ellen White pulling one back and GB pushing hard for an equaliser, it was not to be.
That left the team with a mixture of disappointment at the manner of the defeat, but also a huge amount of pride at the way they had performed in this first Olympic appearance in nine years.
“I’m devastated,” admitted White, whose match was broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.
“I really thought that we could win the game and I thought we played some amazing football.
“I really thought, with this group of players, we believed we could go on to win gold. I’m absolutely heartbroken but I couldn’t be more proud of this team and the staff.
“We haven’t been together very long but the relationships, the connections, the feel has been amazing and I’m really proud of everyone.
“I’m really proud of the performance we put in. We were so close, that’s why we love and hate football at the same time. There are fine margins and we didn’t quite get it in the end.
“I can’t fault anybody, we gave absolutely everything in the 90 minutes and extra-time.
“I would have given up every single goal to win a gold medal. I’m really proud to have contributed to goals, to score for the team, to be part of this team, but I would have given it all up for a gold.”
It was all the more frustrating considering that even in extra-time, GB had their chances, notably Caroline Weir, whose penalty was saved by Teagan Micah.
And skipper Steph Houghton, another who was part of the squad in 2012, echoed White’s pride at the team’s efforts, despite a repeat of the quarter-final exit in London.
She added: “It’s the beauty of the Olympics – you work so hard to get here and it’s not just the last two months, three months’ work that’s been happening, it’s years and years to class yourselves an Olympian and be part of Team GB.
“We wanted to come home with a medal and unfortunately that wasn’t meant to be.
“I’m so proud of all the staff and all the players and the work that’s been done behind the scenes to help us top the group stage, gel and work within the restrictions we have.”
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