Thorns FC Notebook: Stephanie Catley helps Australia qualify for 2015 Women's World Cup
Portland Thorns FC defender Stephanie Catley and the Australian Women’s National Team qualified for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Vietnam in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on Monday. With the win, the Matildas place second in their group behind Japan and progress to the semi-finals to face Korea Republic on May 22.
Finishing group play, Australia faced off against host nation Vietnam in a torrential rainstorm knowing a win would secure them a spot in their sixth-straight World Cup. The Matildas created a variety of chances in an energetic contest and took the lead just before halftime when Vietnam conceded an own goal in the 42nd minute via an Australia indirect free kick inside the Vietnam 18-yard box. Although the goalkeeper saved the initial shot, an attempted clearance bounced off a Vietnamese defender and into the net. Matildas forward Katrina Gorry sealed the 2-0 victory with a goal in the 90th minute for Australia. Picking up the ball inside the Vietnam half, the FC Kansas City striker beat two defenders and rifled a shot into the upper corner from 25 yards.
Catley played the full 90 minutes for the defending Asian Cup champions, helping preserve the shutout for Australia. She is expected to join the Thorns in Portland later this spring.
Japan will square off against China P.R. in the other semi-final with the Asian Cup championship match scheduled for May 25.
The top five teams from the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualify for next year’s 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup tournament in Canada. As one of the semi-finalists, Australia qualifies for the World Cup along with Japan, China PR, and Korea Republic. The final spot will be decided by a fifth place playoff between the two third place teams from the group stage.
Canada, as the World Cup host country and captained by Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair, is the only other nation to qualify thus far.