Panama eliminated by the Reggae Girlz

by Eric Jackson, from other media


Panamanian women's soccer is, as a formally organized phenomenon, less than a decade old. That our national women's team was in Miami playing for a spot in next year's world championships in China was a tribute to how far that program has gone in such a short time. Unfortunately, on the afternoon of November 19 their Jamaican counterparts showed the Panamanian women how far they still have to go.


Some four minutes into the game Jamaican midfielder Audia Sullivan took a pass from Venicia "String Bean" Reid then caught Panamanian goalie Lineth Benis out of position with a perfectly placed shot to put the Reggae Girlz ahead 1-0.


That sort of deficit against the Jamaican women is cause for alarm --- the Reggae Girlz have not allowed a single goal in all of their World Cup qualifying games.


They didn't allow any this time, either. In the first half the Panamanian side rarely got the ball past midfield, and only had one decent scoring chance, when with about three minutes to go in the opening period Phanilka Evans had a free kick from about 20 yards out but aimed her shot a bit too high.


Reid put the ball in the net again for Jamaica at the end of the second half, but she was ruled offside and the goal nullified. In the second half, however, she put the ball into the net again with a header and this time it counted.


After that Panama threw everything into offense and got some decent opportunities, one of which forced Reid into a foul that earned her a second yellow card and a suspension that will keep her out of Jamaica's game with Canada. All for naught, however. Jamaica's goalie and defenders rose to the occasion and the game ended in a 2-0 Reggae Girlz win.


That Panama couldn't score on Jamaica wasn't particularly a sign of weakness. The Reggae girls have scored 38 unanswered goals in their campaign to get to the World Cup. But the goals that Jamaica scored were both on defensive lapses in which the Panamanian defenders let their opponents move the ball around in front of their goal when they should not have. Some of the other chances that Jamaica had were also aided by defensive mistakes.


This was not a humiliation. Panama played better against Jamaica than any of the Reggae Girlz previous opponents have. Yes, Panama has some improvements to make, but the main thing about this game was that the Jamaicans are so good.


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