News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Oct. 19, 2018: Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz made history Wednesday for their nation and the Caribbean region.
The No. 64-ranked Reggae Girlz, Jamaica’s women’s national team, qualified for the 2019 World Cup in France for the first time in the team’s history after beating Panama on penalties in the third-place game at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 17th.
With this win, the team also becomes the first Caribbean nation ever to qualify for the Women’s World Cup.
Khadija Shaw, a senior forward for the University of Tennessee, opened up the scoring for Jamaica in the first half with an absurdly wide-open header in the middle of the box. But with 16 minutes left in regulation, Panama’s Natalia Mills went on a beautiful run before scoring an equalizer. In extra time, Jamaica once again struck first with a goal from just inside the box by Jody Brown. But again, Panama came right back when Lineth Cedeno took advantage of a Jamaican mistake to chip in a late goal in the 115th minute.
Before the the end of extra time, Jamaica made the bold choice to substitute their 19-year-old starting goalkeeper, Sydney Schneider, for the much more experienced Nicole McClure. The gamble paid off for coach Hue Menzies, as McClure was able to get a pivotal penalty save for her team. The ultimate hero of the game was Sheyla Diaz, who sunk the winning penalty that set off the celebrations.
Jamaica will join the United States and Canada, who played in this tournament’s final after this game ended, as the three women’s CONCACAF teams to make it to the 2019 World Cup in France.