Jamaica’s Reggae Girls have created history by becoming the first team from the Caribbean to qualify for the senior FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
They achieved the feat after beating Panama 4-2 on penalties after earlier battling to a 2-2 draw during regulation and extra time.
Goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who replaced Sydney Schneider in the 120th minute, saved shots by Lineth Cedeno and Kenia Rangel after Yomira Pinzon and Erika Hernandez converted their chances.
Deneisha Blackwood, Ashleigh Shim, Christina Chang and Dominique Bond-Flasza put home their attempts for Jamaica.
Earlier Khadijah Shaw headed Jamaica into the lead in the 14th minute after getting on the end of a cross from the right wing by 16 year old Jody Brown.
Panama equalized in the 75th minute on captain Natalia Mills’ first goal of the competition. Mills latched onto a pass and ran to the top of the box as she drilled a shot into the lower left corner past Schneider to knot the score at 1-1.
Brown then tallied her fourth goal of the tournament five minutes into the first extra period. She fired a right-footed shot from 16 yards into the near right post past Panamanian goalkeeper Yenith Bailey.
Panama tied things up for the second time in the 115th minute as Adrith Quintero fed Cedeno, who beat Schneider from eight yards.
The result sees the Reggae Girls joining the United States and Canada as automatic qualifiers from the region to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The Panamanians still have a chance to reach France for next year’s tournament as it will play Argentina in a home-and-home playoff.