The Westfield Matildas' phenomenal run at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015™ is over at the Quarter Final stage after succumbing to reigning world champions Japan 1-0 in hot conditions at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
A gritty Westfield Matildas outfit created some decent chances and managed to hold out a quality Japan but just when the game seemed destined for extra time, substitute Mana Iwabuchi struck to keep Japan's World Cup defence alive.
It was a shattering way for the Westfield Matildas to bow out of the tournament, but with the average age of the squad just 23, which includes veterans Lisa De Vanna and Melissa Barbieri, the future is bright for this team that has captured the imagination and attention of many back home.
The character and never say die attitude of the Westfield Matildas was epitomised by arguably Australia's best performer throughout the tournament, Elise Kellond-Knight, as she produced two crucial goal saving tackles in the final ten minutes to keep them level.
But with three minutes to go in regulation time a scramble in the penalty area from a Japan corner proved the defining moment in the match as Iwabuchi struck to extinguish the Westfield Matildas' hopes of a spot in the semi finals.
Obviously gutted by the result, Head Coach Alen Stajcic praised his team's courage and dedication but admitted the first 20 minutes of the contest, which Japan dominated, was a telling factor and in the end they were deserved winners.
"Today I thought the better team won. They kept the ball and had a lot more patience and technique than us, especially in the first 20 minutes of the match, and I think we expended a lot of energy chasing the ball during that period," Stajcic said.
"Even though they (Japan) scored from a set piece and a scrappy sort of goal they were probably better at more aspects of the game than we were."
"It's a heartbreaking experience for all of us but in saying that we've got such a good base to build from now, it was a good learning experience for everyone and it's our job to get better - we don't want to compete with the best, we want to beat the best."
The majority of the squad will head their separate ways from Edmonton while the contingent heading back to Australia are scheduled to depart tomorrow at 7.50pm local time and are scheduled to arrive in Sydney on Tuesday 30 June at 8.15am.