An Australian penalty has denied the Young Football Ferns a result on the third and final day of the Future Stars U-17 football women's football tournament at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday evening.
The 44th minute spot kick was initially missed by captain Tameka Butt but referee Chris Kerr ruled Ferns keeper Charlotte Wood moved before the whistle and the penalty was subsequently retaken, and converted, by Marianna Tabain.
In the earlier title-decider between USA and Germany, American captain Kristen Mewis banked a second-half double to lead her team to a 3-2 win.
New Zealandcoach Paul Temple says the quadrangular tournament – in which New Zealand finished bottom of the four teams – has been an eye-opener for his girls.
"USA and Germany were a class act and we're a few levels behind them to be honest," said Temple.
"But at least the girls now know where they need to be and over the next nine months we'll be doing everything we can to get them mentally and physically prepared for this World Cup."
The Ferns' 1-0 loss to Australia came despite long periods of possession and several close shaves.
A Leah Gallie header was cleared off the line in the 46th minute while Annalie Longo and Sarah McLaughlin both had shots saved in the 63rd minute.
Second half substitute Lauren Murray then made an immediate impact with her 30-yard left-foot volley hitting the bar.
The Australians also went close with two one-on-one breakaways saved in the last 15 minutes – Charlotte Wood doing well to keep the score to just one.
Temple admits he was disappointed not to get a result.
Goal scorer Tani Costa gets a lift from her captain Kristin Mewis.
"We absolutely hammered them in the second half and it was by far and away the best performance we've had in the tournament," he said
"The main thing we need to work on is our fitness and our strength so that will be our focus for the next few months."
No love was lost between the trans-Tasman rivals with a total of five yellow cards handed out during the match.
Meanwhile, the USA-Germany game was a showcase for women's football with a world-class display of skill and strength.
The two football powerhouses will be teams to watch at the New Zealand-hosted FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup starting October 28.