From the 3,000-seat Reese Stadium to the 33,000-seat Stade de la Mosson in Montepllier, former Yale women’s soccer captain and defender Brittany Simpson ’19 is on course to play for the Jamaican national soccer team at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this upcoming summer. The senior recently traveled with the team to South Africa for a training camp and a friendly. The 23-player squad for the tournament is set to be announced soon.
Simpson, who missed the entirety of her senior campaign due to injury, made her debut for the Jamaican team after many invitations to participate in the national setup. Her 2017 campaign with the Bulldogs impressed many: Simpson started 15 games as part of a back four that posted eight clean sheets. The Elis went 11–4–2 overall with a 4–2–1 Ivy mark in what was their best season in a decade.
“It’s an exciting time for Brittany but also Yale women’s soccer,” head coach Brendan Faherty said. “As an individual, the highest level of competition is to represent your country in the World Cup. I’ve only know Brittany for a short amount of time, but I have been impressed with her work rate and positive attitude. It’s not easy to overcome an Achilles’ tear, but she is doing everything she can to put herself in the best position possible to wear the Jamaica jersey in France this summer.”
Simpson, still, faces a long road to secure her spot on the plane to France. The 22-year-old tore her Achilles tendon last summer, shortly before the 2018 season, and only just started to get back into competitive shape during the past two months.
Without Simpson, the Bulldogs struggled to hit any sort of heights. The team finished the season 7–9–1 with a 1–6 Ivy record and a list of lengthy injuries.
“She has played such a major role on the team since I got to this school three years ago, and she has worked so hard to get to where she is today,” goalkeeper and 2019 captain Alyssa Fagel ’20 said. “I have seen Britt overcome two serious injuries, coming back stronger and more determined each time. I always love watching the World Cup, but to know that one of my closest friends and role models [may] be playing in it this year, makes it extra special.”
If she earns a spot on the roster, Simpson will be a member of a Jamaican side making its first World Cup appearance after qualifying through a successful performance at the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. A nail-biting third-place playoff win on penalties against Panama booked Jamaica its ticket to France. Along the way, the team also defeated 2015 World Cup participant Costa Rica in a 1–0 upset victory.
Jamaica will be the lowest-ranked team in the World Cup with a 53rd position in the international standings. The tournament’s underdogs find themselves in a challenging group: sixth-ranked Australia, 2007 World Cup runner-up Brazil and fifteenth-ranked Italy all find themselves alongside an inexperienced Jamaican team.
The Caribbean nation will play in two final preparatory friendlies before jetting off to France. Jamaica plays host to Panama before traveling to face off against fellow World Cup–participant Scotland. Meanwhile, the United States is the favorite to win it all. The only other qualifying nation from the CONCACAF confederation, the Stars and Stripes have won on three occasions and are also the defending champions.
“For our current student-athletes, it’s motivating to see their former teammates play after college, whether it be Brittany with Jamaica or Meredith Speck and Carlin Hudson in the NWSL,” Faherty said. “It shows that not only can you receive an unbelievable education at Yale, you can also continue to play soccer at the highest level possible in women’s soccer.”
Jamaica is the first ever Caribbean nation to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org