Though Jamaica lost 0-2 to Canada at the National Stadium on Friday, Reggae Girl Konya Plummer was ecstatic to play in front of her home crowd for the first time since 2019.
Nichelle Prince's 18th-minute goal and Adriana Leon's strike in the third minute of stoppage time were enough to propel the reigning champions to victory in the first leg of two-way Olympic Games qualifying matchup. The return leg is to be contested on Tuesday in front of a reported soldout BMO Field in Toronto, Canada.
"The feeling was amazing. It is a great feeling playing my first game in a while on home soil," the 26-year-old Plummer told the Jamaica Observer.
"The home crowd was great and I am happy that everyone came out and supported us. It took a lot of hard work. It took a lot of dedication and guts to be back and I am just proud of where I am at the moment," the central defender said.
Plummer, who captained the Reggae Girlz at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France, has had more than her fair share of challenges since that high.
When the Jamaicans qualified for France 2019 they became the first Caribbean nation to feature at the women's global football tournament. Plummer played every minute for Jamaica, who were eliminated at the group stage after losing games to Brazil, Italy, and Australia.
The Reggae Girlz presence at the World Cup caught the attention of scouts.
Plummer, a natural with the ball at her feet, became the first Jamaican-born player drafted in National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) history in January 2020, when she was selected in the second round by Orlando Pride.
But her contract option with the Orlando Pride was denied in December 2021, and she was placed on waivers.
Plummer announced her pregnancy on social media in July 2022, and after giving birth to her son she returned to training in the latter part of the year.
With her sidelined, Jamaica made more history by qualifying for the 2023 Women's World Cup. There had been some concern about Plummer's readiness for the tournament, but she battled her way back and convinced the Reggae Girlz coaching staff.
As it turned out, she didn't feature on the pitch, but she was among 23 players selected to represent Jamaica at the ninth edition of the Women's football extravaganza, which was jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand from July to August.
"Honestly, my comeback has been hard. I have gone through a lot of struggles just to come back and just to be at the World Cup, making my return, making the roster, and being out there was something I thought I never could do.
"I fought through it. It was a great moment and I might have shed a little tear because there's so much that I have been through, mentally and physically, and to come back from that, I keep surprising myself and so I was proud of that," she explained.
"I wasn't disappointed in not getting a World Cup game. I believe in God and everything happens for a reason and my team went out there and we all played together. I wasn't out there on the field, but I supported my team the best way that I could and I think we delivered," she said.
Plummer, who had a fantastic game in defence against Canada on Friday, showed she was also more than handy at the opposite end of the field. As the Jamaicans sought a way back into the tie, the central defender fired a left-footed shot at goal which was saved by Canada's goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan deep into time added.
And though facing an improbable task heading into Tuesday's second leg against the North Americans, she said the Girlz have reasons to be optimistic.
"I think we did well as a team. However, there are some areas where we can improve, and we have the opportunity to do so before the next game, which we are looking forward to. There are many positives to be gained from this game.
"We had opportunities but did not take them, which is a bonus for simply being in the proper spot. So all we have to do now is work and capitalise on that," she remarked.