Lavelle finds Morgan who nets second U.S. goal
Rose Lavelle sneaks a pass to Alex Morgan who breaks defenders to net the second U.S.. goal of the first half in the 60th minute vs. New Zealand in Wellington.
It was July 7, 2019, when Rose Lavelle cemented herself as a World Cup hero. The U.S. Women’s National Team stood on the pitch with a single-goal lead in the FIFA World Cup Final, desperate to further its advantage over a challenging Netherlands team.
Just before the 70-minute mark, Lavelle fielded a central pass and advanced toward the goal with two Dutch defenders closing in. A screaming strike left her foot with so much power that she toppled to the ground. But all that mattered was that the shot evaded the hands of goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal.
Lavelle sprung off the grass to embrace her teammates in celebration of what turned out to be the game-winning goal, and the 24-year-old had etched her name in USWNT history.
That 24-year-old is now 28, and the lingering memory of July 7, 2019, serves as motivation for this year’s U.S. Women’s World Cup roster to push for the repeat (and in fact, the three-peat) in Australia and New Zealand. With Lavelle’s second FIFA World Cup appearance just ahead, she shared with NBC Sports via email what it’s like to return to soccer’s biggest stage, as well as how her Ohio roots helped shape her as a player and a person.
“I’d like to think I’ve grown tremendously on and off the field since 2019,” Lavelle said. “Just becoming more of an experienced player and being a good role model for the younger players, like the girls did with me in 2019. I’ve also tried to emphasize my recovery and pre/post-training routines to assure I’m at my best when I step on the pitch. Within the game itself, my style hasn’t changed drastically, but I’ve definitely picked up more knowledge of what to do in certain situations and how to better impact the team.”
Lavelle’s role has shifted since her last time on a World Cup pitch, and so has her preparation process. The midfielder remained an NWSL powerhouse for the past four years, but a recent knee injury suffered in April 2023 meant that her run-up to the World Cup was shaped by the recovery process.
“I’ve been doing a lot of things – like stretching, massages, etc. – to help with my recovery process,” Lavelle said regarding her knee injury. “Icy Hot PRO has also been essential to my recovery process as it helps me relieve my muscles and joints after a game or training session. You can tell it’s been made for muscles and joints that’ve been pushed to their limits – it’s a next-level pain reliever.”
As Lavelle continues to work her way back from injury (she was on the bench for the squad’s sendoff match against Wales on July 9th), she’s found strength and positivity in the rest of the USWNT roster.
“I’d say our biggest strength is our depth and versatility,” Lavelle told NBC Sports. “We have a whole roster of talented players who are capable and ready to step up should their name be called … We go into every match and tournament with the objective of winning, so this one isn’t any different. We have a great group of girls on and off the pitch who have the same goal for our trip. This World Cup will be tougher than any, considering the investment other countries are starting to put into the women’s game.”
Lavelle can still recall watching the sport in its infancy on the global stage.
“My earliest memories besides playing soccer in the backyard probably include watching Mia Hamm and that amazing USWNT group help put women’s soccer on the map,” Lavelle said.
She watched that 1999 World Cup-winning U.S. team from her home in Cincinnati, Ohio. The city she grew up in holds a valuable piece of her heart to this day.
“Anyone that knows me will tell you that Cincinnati is my favorite place on earth,” Lavelle said. “There’s a rich history and small-town feel in a big city, which is truly special. The Cincinnati community is full of amazing people who have been a great support system throughout my career. I still talk to a lot of my youth coaches and mentors from the area, who help inspire me and the new generation of kids coming out of Cincinnati.”
The community she’s built in her hometown isn’t the only thing that makes Cincinnati special. It’s also the place of residence for her other famous family member, English bulldog and Instagram star Wilma Jean Wrinkles. Wilma is a seasoned social media pro, with over 12k followers on Instagram.
“She’s a stubborn adorable English Bulldog with a ton of wrinkles, who loves to eat everything, and I’m proud to call her my sister,” Lavelle said of her 10-year-old dog. “Her home is Cincinnati, and she’s now more famous than me on social media! She’s a decent soccer player too.”
The support system in Lavelle’s life is something she doesn’t take for granted. And when it comes time to vie for the title of World Champion alongside America’s best, the love becomes a driving force for the midfielder.
But the memories of the championship-sealing moment in 2019 live on — and with USWNT already on the ground in Australia for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, opportunities for greatness abound.
“Overall, the World Cup is such a big tournament so the nerves and excitement I feel are very similar to those in 2019,” Lavelle said. “But, as they say, having experience helps.”
2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live
When: July 20 to August 20
Group stage kick-off times: 12:30am, 1am, 1:30am, 3am, 3:30am, 4am, 6am, 7am, 8am, 8:30am, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm (all ET)
Location: Australia and New Zealand
TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)
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