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Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis shake off rust ahead of NWSL final

Rose Lavelle warms up before OL Reign's final match of the 2023 regular season. (Daniel Bartel/USA TODAY Sports)

Preview the 2023 NWSL Championship by tuning into the Just Women’s Sports Super Show Presented by State Farm, featuring surprise guest appearances by NWSL stars. Watch here.

Both teams competing in Saturday’s NWSL Championship final had key players return from injury during the playoffs. 

OL Reign’s Rose Lavelle and Gotham FC’s Kristie Mewis missed long stretches of the regular season. But in the postseason, each has made her presence known on the pitch. 

After not playing since Sept. 3 due to a nagging knee injury, Lavelle made her return on Oct. 21 in OL Reign’s first postseason win since 2015. In the Reign’s following game — the NWSL semifinal against the San Diego Wave — Lavelle assisted on Veronica Latsko’s game-winning-goal. 

“It’s been really nice to build back my minutes, I’m feeling good,” Lavelle said Thursday. “Hopefully I can shake a little rust off, but I’m happy to be back in a position where I can help on the field.”

Mewis made her own return from a lower-leg injury in Gotham’s semifinal game against the Portland Thorns in similar fashion to Lavelle. In Mewis’ first appearance for Gotham since she played for the U.S. women’s national team in the World Cup, she assisted on Katie Stengel’s game-winning tally to send their club to the final. 

“Obviously, I’ve been out for a bit so I do feel a little bit rusty, but I feel really good. I’m not in pain anymore, which is a huge deal for me. . . I’m just excited to help the team in any way that I can and play whatever role I need to play,” Mewis said.

Both Lavelle and Mewis are expected to be available for the NWSL Championship at 8 p.m. ET Saturday, when either Gotham or OL Reign will emerge as first-time champions.

“I think the team has been so incredible and has absolutely carried everybody to this point,” Mewis said of her squad. “I’m feeling good, I think the team feels so good. We’re in such a good spot mentally and physically right now, so I’m so excited to see what we bring on Saturday.”