Matildas captain Sam Kerr has gone in to bat for teammate Ellie Carpenter after the defender’s costly errors in the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final loss to England.
The 23-year-old was twice caught out by England attacker Lauren Hemp in Australia’s 3-1 defeat on Wednesday night.
Carpenter was beaten by Hemp in the lead-up to England’s first goal, but notably after Kerr equalised, the Lionesses regained the lead when Carpenter failed to deal with physical pressure from Hemp, who pinched the ball and scored the winner.
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The dashing defender, who has played all 570 minutes of Australia’s campaign, has received abuse on social media for the error.
“With Ellie, people probably see how physically strong she is but she’s mentally one of the toughest kids I’ve ever met in my life,” Kerr told reporters in Brisbane on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s third-placed play-off against Sweden.
“She’s an amazing part of this team and the good thing about playing a team sport is it’s never one person’s fault, or it’s never one person that made the team win.
Teammates are adamant Ellie Carpenter (L) was not to blame for the Matildas’ loss to England. Credit: AAP
“Without Ellie, our whole team plan probably changes.
“She’s such a amazing player for us, and no one in our team for one second has ever thought anything was Ellie’s fault and I don’t think Ellie thinks that and I don’t think anyone should think that because there’s 90 minutes in a football match.
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“And I mean, if we talked about all the mistakes we could go for days, that’s football.
“But no, Ellie’s a strong kid. She’s an amazing person. She’s an amazing human on and off the park. She’s a big part for us.
“She bounced back and the team got around her but she’s a strong kid. She knows how to deal with her things.”
Veteran defender Clare Polkinghorne post-match had also thrown her support behind Carpenter, who is only 16 months off tearing her anterior cruciate ligament.
“Ellie’s the heart and soul of this team,” Polkinghorne said.
“She gives us so much energy and she’s one of the best players in the world in her position.
“She’s been phenomenal for us.”
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