HOCKEYROOS defender Jodie Kenny says the side’s top four finish at the 2018 Women’s World Cup is a sign of the youthful team’s growth but acknowledges there’s plenty more to learn.
Fifth-ranked Australia, featuring Gerringong’s Grace Stewart and Mollymook’s Kalindi Commerford (injrued), lost their semi-final to world number one Netherlands in a shootout before losing the bronze medal match 3-1 to Spain in London.
Veteran defender Kenny said the fourth-place finish was a step forward for Paul Gaudoin’s side as they continue to evolve towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics following their disappointing quarter-final exit at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We’ve come a very long way,” Kenny said.
“I’m extremely proud of all the girls.”
The World Cup represented another opportunity for the side to gain big-game experience, having reached the Commonwealth Games gold medal match in April, losing 4-1 to New Zealand.
“It shows we’ve still got a lot of learning in the bigger matches,” Kenny said.
“We need to play really well throughout to get over those hurdles at the end, the tough final matches that show physical and mental strength as well.”
Gaudoin refused to use Australia’s heartbreaking semi-final shootout loss to the Dutch on Saturday as an excuse for Sunday’s loss to Spain, which was the side’s only World Cup defeat inside regulation time.
“Spain were very good and we weren't quite there,” he said.
“We will learn a lot from Sunday’s performance. We can't use Saturday’s match as an excuse.”
Kenny added that she felt the group was prepared to put in a better performance against the Spaniards, but were beaten by a better side.
“We were up and about ready for it and we were just outplayed,” the Wamuran product said.
“It’s extremely disappointing to end up fourth but in the overall scheme it’s a good effort from us.”
The Hockeyroos will now enjoy a break from training, ahead of a series in Japan in September.
Australia is expected to rise in the latest FIH Hero World Rankings which are due to released this week.