Everything in her still fledgling career seems to come ahead of schedule, and former Illawarra Stingray Mary Fowler can add another first to the burgeoning resume after helping the Matildas home in an epic penalty shoot-out.
Having looked most likely to break a 0-0 deadlock throughout regulation and extra time, Fowler showed a calm head far beyond her 20 years when she stepped to the penalty spot, her assured strike cannoning into the back of the net to level the ledger at 3-3.
There was plenty more drama to come, with keeper McKenzie Arnold and subbed in forward Cortnee Vine proving the heroes among a stunning 20 penalties taken.
Vine etched her name in Australian sporting folklore in driving home the final deciding strike to deliver the victory that Fowler described as "a nice feeling" in typically understated fashion.
"I'd never been through a penalty shoot-out," Fowler said post-match.
"It was very tense but, at the same time, I just had so much confidence when I was out there. I think it's an amazing way for us to get through to the next game because we really fought out there tonight and gave it everything that we could.
"To be able to execute our penalties in the end was big for us. France are a great team. They are very aggressive and they have some world-class players.
"Football is like that sometimes, we both had our chances, but we couldn't finish, which takes you to penalties. Penalties take just one moment to win or lose, so we ended up the ones tonight to get that (win)."
It came after French defender Élisa De Almeida denied Fowler the best chance in regulation time with a stunning deflection of the Aussies' strike into a seemingly open goal after keeper Pauline Peyraud was dragged out of the box.
It continues a brilliant Cup for the former Wollongong Performing Arts High student, who laid on fellow Stingrays alumna Caitlin Foord's opening goal in the Matildas' 2-0 round-of-16 win over Denmark.
She also grabbed one of her side's four goals in a 4-0 rout of Canada in the pool stage, while she scored the lone goal in the Aussies' 1-0 win over France in the Matildas' final pre-Cup friendly.
While the 20-year-old star has the potential to succeed the likes of Sam Kerr as the face of nation's most beloved national team, coach Tony Gustavsson's keeping his expectations measured.
"She plays beyond her years in terms of maturity," Gustavsson said following the stirring victory.
"She understands her defending role, she can spin on a dime with her technique.
''Talking about entertainment, her technical skills are just one of a kind. She could have had a couple of goals tonight.
''She's scored two in a game like this, but just the fact that she creates these chances and she's involved in so much in our attack [makes her vital].
"Mary has a bright future, but I also think we need to be very careful of putting too much pressure on her now.
''She's a young player, she should just play freely, do her thing and just be Mary Fowler to a hundred per cent. I think we all love it when she is."
The next challenge is coming down from the high of qualifying for a first-ever World Cup semi-final appearance to face the looming task of facing England on Wednesday night for a spot in the final.
It's uncharted territory but veteran forward Caitlin Foord - who scored Australia's first penalty in the shoot-out - was just happy to savour the win after Gustavsson said enjoying the moment was "part of recovery".
"I'm just so proud, it was an incredible performance," the Warilla junior told reporters post-match.
"We were unlucky not to put one away during the game and then to go to pens and get it done then, it's huge for this team. It's something to boost our confidence even more.
"Before going into the game I was kind of prepared for [penalties], so I didn't think too much.
"I knew we had prepared for that moment, I was confident in us to be able to get it done in pens.
"To get through a hurdle like that, it just shows what our team is about and the belief that we have. Our never-say-die attitude came out tonight."
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