in the absence of co-captains Lisa De Vanna and Clare Polkinghorne, Simon was given the duty of leading the side out against Vietnam for the first time in her 60 appearances. Then as though she felt added responsibility to lead by example wearing the captain's armband, she proceeded to register another first as she scored her maiden hat-trick for her country, all three of her goals coming in the space of 26 first half minutes.
“Scoring my first hat-trick was certainly a memorable moment and one that I’ll always remember and cherish for the rest of my career but I was just thrilled to get that result because it’s crucial to get points early in the tournament,” said Simon.
The 24 year old revealed Head Coach Alen Stajcic had made an emphasis on approaching the match with a ruthless mindset, and it is hard to argue they players did not take the message on board as they amassed a nine goal haul.
“Staj made an emphasis not to take our foot off the pedal if we got a few goals up and I think we executed that well which holds us in good stead heading into the rest of the tournament,” said Simon.
But as is the nature of this tournament and the almost ridiculously short amount of time between matches, Simon's focus has quickly turned from her accomplishments to what is certain to be a much sterner test in shape of Korea Republic on Friday night.
In assessing the Westfield Matildas' next assignment, Simon believes the key will be to continue utilising the strengths they showed against both Japan and Vietnam coupled with staying defensively sound and trying to expose chinks the Korean Republic armour.
“They (Korea Republic) had a draw with Japan but going into the game we really need to focus on what we’re good at and try to exploit their weaknesses,” said Simon.
“It’s going to be tough no matter who we face but I believe in this group that we can get the job done.”
The Westfield Matildas’ match against Korea Republic will be shown LIVE on 7mate (kick-off 9.35pm AEDT).
The night was also a special one for a teenager from the New South Wales town of Cowra. Ellie Carpenter became the first person born since the 1st of January 2000 to represent the Westfield Matildas when she debuted against Vietnam, the 15 year old now recorded as the 197th player capped for Australia’s national women’s team.
“It was such an amazing experience and something I’ll never forget,” said Carpenter.
“The girls made me feel part of the team and really helped to calm my nerves before the game.”
Carpenter played the full 90 minutes and said that now that she has had a taste of playing for the Westfield Matildas, she is determined to keep improving and doing everything she can to make it a more regular occurrence.
Adding further romance to Carpenter’s story is that prior to the tournament commencing it was planned that she would fly back to Australia on the day of the Vietnam game as she was only in Osaka as a train on player. But that all changed when she was a late inclusion into the squad after Aivi Luik pulled out at the last minute through injury.
“To even just be a part of the Matildas and get a 9-0 win against Vietnam to get us a step closer to qualifying for Rio, it was just amazing being out on the field to experience that win with them,” said Carpenter.
“Initially I was supposed to go home today (the day of the Vietnam game) so from going home to making my debut was pretty crazy but I’m just so glad for the opportunity and I’m loving it so far.”
It is sure to be a night both Simon and Carpenter look back on for a long time to come.