Reggae Girlz's Olympic qualifying campaign over after loss in Canada
Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) and Jamaica's Deneisha Blackwood (14) battle for the ball during the second half of a Concacaf women's championship football series match in Toronto on Tuesday September 26, 2023. (Photo: AP)

Despite a more energetic showing from the Reggae Girlz, the Jamaicans were defeated 2-1 by Canada in the second leg of their Olympic Games qualifier at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday.

With the Jamaicans having an uphill battle to avenge their 0-2 loss to Canada in the opening game at the National Stadium in St Andrew, Jamaica last Friday, Drew Spence gave the Reggae Girlz something to fight for in the 33rd minute with a superb free kick.

However, Cloe Lacasse (39th minute), and Jordyn Huitema's (50th minute) goals ensured that the defending champions will be present in Paris next year. The tie was won 4-1 on aggregate by the Canadians.

Canada was anticipated to open the match aggressively because they were playing at home in front of a sold-out crowd. As a result, the Olympic winners dominated the early going and could have opened the scoring in the second minute of play when Lacasse's effort was saved by Jamaica goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.

Canada's Sydney Collins (left) battles with Jamaica's Kameron Simmonds for the ball during the first half of their second-leg Olympic Games qualifying match at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

Spencer then made two more spectacular stops to deny the hosts the opening goal. In the ninth minute, Atlanta Primus fired from just outside the box, but her shot was deflected out for a corner kick, giving the Reggae Girlz another chance. Kameron Simmonds' shot was wide.

Lacasse and Nichelle Prince then went on the offensive, but Spencer and her defence were up to the task, again denying the Canadians. Spence attempted to sneak by a Canadian defender and won a free kick right outside the area in the 32nd minute. Spencer took the golden shot and brilliantly put her strike in the upper right corner of the net for her second international goal in 16 appearances.

When the Jamaica defence put out her shot for a corner, Canada swiftly countered with Sydney Collins. Adrianna Leon hit the crossbar with the subsequent corner kick in the 35th minute. Spencer pushed Ashley Lawrence's strike just inside the box against the crossbar as Canada kept pressing.

Lacasse headed home from Leon's corner kick in the 39th minute to give Canada their first goal. Spencer didn't stand a chance, but her expression said it all: she was crushed by the equaliser. Lawrence tried with her left foot inside the area in the 44th minute but lacked the power to beat Spencer as both teams went into halftime tied at 1-1.

Canada's Nichelle Prince (left) battles Jamaica's Tiffany Cameron for the ball during the first half of their second-leg Olympic Games qualifying match at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

On the resumption, the Canadians came out on fire and instantly stabbed the Reggae Grilz in the heart as Huitema headed home from Lawrence's cross in the 50th minute. Canada dominated for the next eight minutes before the Jamaicans forced Canada to concede a corner in the 58th minute, which was later wasted by the Reggae Girlz.

Christine Sinclair, who had been introduced to the game in the 59th minute, blasted right into Spencer's gloves from close range in the 62nd minute, giving the Canadians a great chance to extend their lead. Sinclair went after Deneisha Blackwood again in the 65th minute, but the Canadian veteran was equalled. Jamaica soon answered with a corner, but Trudi Carter fired the cross wide, giving the Jamaicans little chance of scoring. The Reggae Girlz continued their assault, winning another free kick in the 67th minute, but Blackwood's cross was intercepted by Kailen Sherdian in goal for Canada.

Canada also qualify for the first Concacaf Women's Gold Cup to be played next year in the United States.

The Jamaicans will go into Group A of a Women's Gold Cup qualifying tournament. There, they meet Panama and Guatemala in home and away games starting October 25, with an away game in Panama.

The winner of this group will qualify for the Women's Gold Cup Group stage, alongside two other Group A winners. The second-place finishers in these three Group A (A1, A2, A3) will join three Group B (B1, B2, B3) winners in the Women's Gold Cup preliminaries to kick off the competition.


Canada – Kailen Sheridan, Jade Rose (Shelina Zadorsky 45th), Vanessa Giles, Kadeisha Buchanna, Ashley Lawrence, Julia Grosso (Simi Awujo 66th), Jessie Flemming, Cloe Lacasse (Olivia Smith 86th), Sydney Collins, Adriana Leon (Christine Sinclair 59th), and Nichelle Prince 45th).

Sub not used: Quinn, M Alidou, E Viens, Lysianne, Gabby Carle, Sabrina D'Angelo.

Booked: None

Jamaica – Rebecca Spencer, Tiernny Wilyshire, Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood, Tiffany Cameron (Solai Washington 71st), Atlanta Primus, Drew Spence, Paige Bailey-Gayle (Trudi Carter 61st), Kameron Simmonds (Chenya Matthews 61st), and Kayla McKenna (Olufolasade Adamolekun 80th).

Sub not used: Sydney Schneider, Vyan Sampson, Konya Plummer, Jody Brown, Khadija Shaw, Sashana Campbell, Liya Brooks.

Booked: Blackwood (85th), Spence (89th)

BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter ruddya@jamaicaobserver.com

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