Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz women’s soccer team have qualified to play in the senior FIFA Women’s World Cup competition finals. The Reggae Girlz are the first team from the Caribbean to qualify for the prestigious tournament. The team’s 4-2 victory over Panama came on penalties after they fought to a 2-2 tie during regulation and extra time.
Nicole McClure, the goalkeeper who was sent in to replace Sydney Schneider in the 120th minute, saved shot attempts by Lineth Cedeno and Kenia Ranger following conversions by Yomira Pinzon and Erika Hernandez. Deneisha Blackwood, Ashleigh Shim, Christina Chang and Dominique Bond-Flasza put home their attempts for Jamaica. In the 14th minute, Khadikjah Shaw led the Jamaican women into the top position, getting one the end of a cross from the right wing by Jody Brown.
Panama brought the match to a tie in the 75th minute with the first goal by captain Natalia Mills. Mills took a pass and ran to the top of the box, drilling a shot into the lower left corner to bring the score to 1-1. Brown got her fourth goal of the game five minutes into the first extra time period, making a right-footed shot from 16 yards into the near right post, getting past Panama’s goalkeeper Yenith Bailey. Things were tied the second time in the 115th minute with a goal by Cedeno.
Jamaica’s victory means the Reggae Girlz will join the United States and Canada as automatic qualifiers from the region to move onto the FIFA World Cup finals in France. The Panamanian team may be able to reach the finals as well by winning over Argentina in a home-and-home playoff match.