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As a coach, what do you say to a player after disaster strikes?

All Laura Bassett wanted to do was make a play. Defending a threat in the 92nd minute of a tie game in Wednesday's Women's World Cup semifinal, Bassett attempted to clear a pass out of the English box and into the stands behind her team's goal.

Instead, disaster struck.

The soccer gods saw Bassett's attempt to potentially save the game and instead turned the forces of space and time against her, as the final whistle blew just seconds later, ending the game in cruel and unusual fashion.

In looking for a football equivalent, Bassett's own goal combined the "how in the world is this happening" trainwreck factor of Baylor's 1999 loss to UNLV in which Bears head coach Kevin Steele, leading 24-21 with eight seconds to play, eschewed the victory formation for a shot at an exclamation point touchdown, only to see his roll of the dice backfire in the worst way possible...

... combined with the stakes of Scott Norwood's missed field goal to lose Super Bowl XXV.

As a coach, what do you say in this situation? How do you put back together a heart, a mind, a psyche that seconds earlier was shattered into ten thousand pieces? What do you say to someone that just sentenced themselves to a lifetime of "own goal" autocomplete Google searches, who knows how many of "Oh, were you the one..." interactions with strangers, of a life lived as the Bill Buckner of a nation that cares about soccer more than Boston cares about baseball?

Getty Images

Getty Images

For his part, here's what England manager Mark Sampson had to say: "I do want to state straight away Laura Bassett's name is on that score sheet, but she's epitomised this tournament. She didn't deserve that but she'll be looked upon as a hero (for her previous performances for England). That's what people will remember," later telling his players, "it's OK to cry. They left everything on the field. They couldn't give anything more. They didn't deserve that. We came to this tournament as underdogs and the weight of a nation on our back. I'm just so proud of them. They've really inspired the nation back home. They deserve to go back home as heroes."

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