The Jamaican women's national soccer team is in a place it has never been before. The Reggae Girlz are just one win away from not only their first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup berth, but also becoming the first Carribean team to advance to the finals.
A group of former NJCAA women's soccer players has been the catalyst for the team's most recent success.
Leading the headlines, former Eastern Florida State star Khadija "Bunny" Shaw has produced the last two game-winners for Jamaica during their final group stage matches of the CONCACAF Women's Championship, which also serves as the qualifying tournament to the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France. This included the lone goal in a 1-0 result over Costa Rica that proved to be enough for Jamaica's advancement into the semifinals.
Shaw was named a First Team All-American her sophomore season in Melbourne after producing 13 goals and five assists on the season. Shaw currently plays for the highly-ranked Tennesee women's soccer program where she has recorded 21 goals and seven goals during her 27 appearances for the Vols.
46' Goal Jamaica! Khadija Shaw with a great turn inside the box gets a powerful shot in to give Jamaica the lead! #CWC— Concacaf (@Concacaf) October 8, 2018
46' ¡Gol de Jamaica! Khadija Shaw abre el marcador con un tiro potente dentro del área #CWC#CWC | @jff_football @fedefutbolcrc pic.twitter.com/ALQfHKwhMC
Blackwood was a two-time All-American for the Bulldogs. In her two seasons in Corsicana, Blackwood scorched the nets for an NJCAA career tally of 36 goals and 20 assists. Blackwood is currently attending the University of West Florida, where the Kingston, Jamaica native has currently made 21 starts for the NCAA Division II No. 5 Argonauts.
Trudi Carter preceded Blackwood's time at Navarro by a year. That didn't stop the dynamic player from making an impact for the Bulldogs. Carter was a two-time NJCAA Soccer First Team All-American; first as a midfielder in 2013, then as a forward the following season. In 42 career starts for the Bulldogs, Carter recorded 54 goals and 16 assists while leading the team to the 2013 NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer Championship game. Carter would go on to play for the University of South Florida Bulls where she would record 23 points in 40 games played.
Navarro had a third player, Shanise Foster, who has made regular appearances for the Reggae Girlz in qualifying but has been unavailable in more recent games.
Darton State's Sashana Campbell rounds out the tremendous group of former NJCAA players. Just a few years before Darton State consolidated its athletic program with NCAA Division II Albany State University, Campbell was a big-time performer for the Cavaliers. Campbell led the team to two NJCAA national tournament appearances, including the 2011 NJCAA Division I national championship game where the Cavaliers fell to Tyler by a 1-0 scoreline.
Like Blackwood, Campbell continued her career at the University of West Florida, finishing with a stellar career capped with earning Gulf South All-Conference honors in both her years with the Argonauts.
Jamaica next faces world powerhouse United States, the most recent World Cup champions, on Sunday at 8:00 PM ET in the CONCACAF Women's Championship. This match can be seen on Fox Sports 1 in the United States. The winner will advance to the CONCACAF Women's Championship final while automatically qualifying for the 2019 Women's World Cup. The loser will play in the third-place game, where the winner of that contest will also qualify. That means the Reggae Girls have to win just one of their next two matches to play in France in 2019.