A last-gasp draw against world champions, United States, will give Ballarat soccer product Kyra Cooney-Cross a welcome boost heading into the opening round of the A League Women's season.
The 19-year-old started in the centre of midfield for the Matildas on Tuesday night and was mere inches away from scoring her first international goal.
On the edge of the box, Cooney-Cross returned a defensive clearance on the half-volley, drawing a full-stretch save from the American keeper, who turned the ball on to the post.
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The Ballarat Lady Red Devils product was substituted midway through the second half, missing Kyah Simon's 88th minute effort to level the score at 1-1.
The power dynamic will quickly switch for Cooney-Cross, with her Melbourne Victory entering the A League Women's season as the team to beat.
The midfielder scored directly from a corner in the final minute of extra time of last season's grand final to gift the Victory the championship.
Cooney-Cross has established herself as one of the competition's best young players after a breakthrough year.
Playing across the forward line and as an attacking midfielder, she created more chances (41) than anyone in the league and finished equal fourth for assists and equal fifth for goals.
Cooney-Cross was named the W-League Young Player of the Year and was nominated for the Professional Footballers Australia's Young Player of the Year Award.
An international debut beckoned in June, establishing Cooney-Cross in the Matildas' set-up for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Melbourne Victory is one of the pre-season title favourites due to its creative midfield group, led by Cooney-Cross, and experienced backline.
The defending champions open their season in front of a home crowd against Adelaide United on Sunday.
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