Five players took a penalty and each had a different experience. “We didn’t practice penalties. Our coach told us to pick a corner and focus on that,” said Grace Wisnewski. “We wanted to be confident heading into the shoot-out and knew that whatever happened, happened,” added Maya Hahn.
After that, all that mattered was the goal, the spot and the five penalty takers. “I told myself that we’d already achieved so much and could be proud of ourselves. That calmed me down,” said Wisnewski.
Hahn’s experience was a little different. “I was very nervous when I walked up to take my kick,” she said, “but when I got there, that feeling subsided and I stuck to my original plan of where I wanted to shoot. The fact that Anna had just saved Japan’s first penalty boosted my confidence and helped me.”
Stewart also knew where she wanted the ball to go – into the top left-hand corner – and the 16-year-old was inconsolable when her attempt missed the target. “So many thoughts went through my head,” she recalled. “I felt like I’d let my team down.”
Yet her team-mates gave her a hug and encouraged her. “They picked me straight back up again.”
Did you know?
New Zealand have a lucky song. The team play ‘Glorious’ by Macklemore on a continuous loop, and could be heard singing it together on the pitch after their victory over Japan. “It was playing on the radio after we won a qualifier last year, and we haven’t been anywhere without it ever since,” explained Maya Hahn. “It’s our anthem and it brings us luck.”