Monday, January 31, 2011

31 January 2009 - No More Waltzing For This Matilda

On 31 January 2009, defender Cheryl Salisbury made the last of her record 151 appearances for the Australian women's national team. She also finished as their all-time leading goalscorer.

Salisbury joined the national team, nicknamed "the Matildas," in 1994 and helped them achieve their first honor by winning the 1995 OFC Women's Championship. That victory qualified the Matildas for the 1995 Women's World Cup, their first appearance in the tournament.

After a first-round exit that year, repeated in 1999 and 2003, they advanced to the 2007 quarterfinals thanks to a late goal from Salisbury. Her 92nd minute strike against Canada in the final group stage match leveled the score at 2-2 and earned a critical point for the Australians, who finished one point better than Canada to take the group's last spot in the knockout stage. Although they lost there to eventual runners-up Brazil, it remains their best performance in the World Cup to date.

Salisbury continued her heroics in her last appearance, a friendly against Italy played at Parramatta Stadium in New South Wales. There, after the Italian goalkeeper fouled forward Sarah Walsh, Salisbury put the Matildas up 2-1 with a 66th-minute penalty kick--her record 38th goal for Australia.

But Italy equalized in the 78th minute and Salisbury was subbed out four minutes later. The match ended 2-2. She moved into coaching shortly afterward, taking charge of New South Wales side Broadmeadow Magic in May 2009.

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