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Rose Lavelle, Kristie Mewis Propel USWNT Past the Netherlands


United States 2, Netherlands 0


Rose Lavelle (Christen Press), 41’

Kristie Mewis (Lynn Williams), 70’

A grueling 261 days have passed since the U.S. women’s national team last took the pitch. As you may imagine, Friday afternoon’s friendly was widely anticipated for more reasons than one — yes, the match marked the long-awaited return of the USWNT, but even more thrilling was the opportunity to witness a rematch of last year’s World Cup Final between the U.S. and the Netherlands.

The game took place in Rat Verleigh Stadium in Breda, with the U.S. once again winning comfortably by a score of 2-0 thanks to goals from Rose Lavelle and Kristie Mewis.

Prior to the match, USWNT players released a statement on their social media accounts, highlighting what an honor it was to represent America and that it was their subsequent duty to demand that the liberties and freedoms that the country was founded upon be extended to everyone. As the national anthem played, each USWNT player donned a pullover with the message “Black Lives Matter,” with a majority of players taking a knee to further convey their stance against racial injustice.

“Today, we wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency. We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people,” the statement read. “We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team. As the United States Women’s National team players, we collectively work toward a society where the American ideals are upheld, and Black lives are no longer systemically targeted.”

Here’s how the action unfolded:

The United States wasted no time after the opening whistle blew. With only one minute gone in the first half, Tobin Heath took the ball to the goal line, slotting a cross intended for Lynn Williams who made herself available in the box. Despite Williams’ best attempt to get a foot on the ball, her line of sight was restricted by the Dutch defense, leading to the demise of a near chance for the Americans. Later, in the 18th minute, Williams would take advantage of another scoring chance, curving a shot from outside the eighteen that sailed just over the crossbar.

In the 29th minute, Tobin Heath slipped a through ball to Christen Press, who utilized her quick footwork to beat Dutch goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and score what would have been the go-ahead goal the U.S. had been desperately working towards. Unfortunately, Press was called offside by what seemed a mere step, and the goal was scratched, maintaining the 0-0 deadlock.

The deadlock would not last much longer, however, as Christen Press placed a ball into the path of Rose Lavelle, who neatly cut the ball to her left foot, rendering Dutch defender Dominique Bloodworth off balance. Lavelle then ripped a shot from just inside the eighteen and into the upper ninety, scoring her third national team goal of the year to put the United States up 1-0 as the first half wound to a close. (Hopefully Manchester City manager Gareth Taylor took note of how lethal Lavelle can be when she plays in her actual position.)

Her goal even received a nod from the FA Women’s Super League:

The hero of the second half was none other than Kristie Mewis, who returned to the pitch for the U.S. women’s national team for the first time since 2014 after a standout year with the Houston Dash. Replacing Rose Lavelle in the 60th minute, Mewis made an instant impact — in the form of receiving a through ball from Lynn Williams in stride, taking a few touches and scoring her second-ever national goal to give the United States a 2-0 advantage through 70 minutes of play.

First to congratulate her on such an achievement? Her younger sister Sam, of course. Let’s add watching the Mewis duo in action to the list of things to look forward to next year, shall we?

Finally, in what was nearly an astounding finish in an already-incredible performance for the United States, Midge Purce set Alex Morgan up just outside the eighteen. In a showcase of her skill on the ball, Morgan slipped the ball past Veenendaal and into the net, scoring her first goal since her return to play following the birth of her daughter.

However, Morgan’s goal met a similar fate to that of Christen Press’ earlier in the match and was called offsides, restricting the United States’ lead to two goals.

As the clock wound down, the Dutch worked desperately to cut the United States’ lead in half, but no dice, as the States secured yet another 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, matching the score of last year’s World Cup Final.

Given that the USWNT has not played a match together in over eight months, both the win and team performance in the friendly show immense promise for the future — not to mention both goals came from players who could be serious contributors next year and thereafter.

Though it’s uncertain exactly when we will get to see the U.S. women’s national team take the field again, it was refreshing to witness a team beloved by so many indicate that they are ready to pick up right where they left off — by cementing their status as the best in the world.

Rose Lavelle hoping to return to play ‘in the next couple of weeks’

uswnt midfielder rose lavalle trains on a soccer field in florida
When healthy, Rose Lavelle is a trusted asset in the USWNT's midfield. (Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Rose Lavelle is hoping to return to the field soon. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has been sidelined with a lower leg injury since the Gold Cup in early march. Since then, she has yet to play for new club Gotham FC in the NWSL. She also missed a potential USWNT appearance at the SheBelieves Cup in April, where senior team newcomer Jaedyn Shaw saw success assuming Lavelle's role in the attacking midfield. 

At the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee media showcase on Monday, Lavelle told reporters that she’s doing well and hopes to be back soon.

"I’m doing good — I’m hoping I’ll be back in the next couple weeks," Lavelle said. "It’s frustrating to start the year off with an injury, just because I feel like you come off preseason and you’re revving to go, so it’s so annoying."

Lavelle is still looking to compete for one of just 18 Olympic roster spots. When healthy, she ranks as one of the national team’s most trusted assets, but considering this most recent injury, her health is an obvious concern. Faced with an onslaught of experienced competitors and young talent, incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes will have some big decisions to make when selecting the Paris-bound squad — a reality Lavelle seems to be taking in stride as she works to regain full fitness.

"We have so many special players, we have so much depth, and so many different weapons to utilize on and off the bench," Lavelle said. "Unfortunately that means really good players are going to get left off, too. And I think for all of us, it’s just about being ready for whatever role is given to us, embracing that, and looking to put it into a collective picture so that we can go into the Olympics ready to go."

Kate Paye tapped to take VanDerveer’s place at Stanford

new stanford head coach kate paye spins a basketball on the court
Stanford associate head coach Kate Paye has officially been promoted to head women's basketball coach. (Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)

Stanford has found its replacement for legendary head women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer in associate head coach Kate Paye.

The Cardinal confirmed the hiring on Tuesday via a press release. Paye was largely expected to replace the longtime head coach, as the college mentioned they were still negotiating Paye's contract when they announced VanDerveer's retirement.

In Tuesday's statement, Paye reported that she was "humbled" to have been tapped to lead the women’s program.

"Stanford University has been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead its women’s basketball program," Paye said. "I’d first like to thank Tara, who has played such a pivotal role in my career for her friendship and guidance. It’s not what she’s done, but how she’s done it, that has had such a profound impact upon me."

A Woodside, California native, Paye played under VanDerveer from 1992 to 1995, taking home a national title her freshman year. After graduation, Paye briefly joined San Diego State as an assistant coach before making her professional debut with the ABL's Seattle Reign in 1996. After finishing her playing career with the WNBA's Seattle Storm, she joined the team’s coaching staff in 2007 and has been with the organization ever since, picking up another national title win — this time as associate head coach — in 2021. Paye's brother John played quarterback for Stanford from 1983 to 1986, while also serving as a point guard on the basketball team.

In her own response, VanDerveer said that she was "grateful" that Stanford picked Paye to follow in her stead. Last week, the decorated coach stated that this year would be her last after 38 seasons at the helm and three national titles under her belt.

"She has long been ready for this opportunity and is the perfect leader for Stanford at this time of immense change in college athletics," VanDerveer noted. "Kate was the choice for this job and I am confident she will achieve great success as head coach."

After a record-breaking Draft Night, WNBA roster cuts loom

2023 WNBA no. 1 draft pick Aliyah Boston playing for the indiana fever
Despite going No. 1 overall in the 2023 WNBA Draft, Aliyah Boston had to fight hard to make it onto Indiana's roster. (Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2024 WNBA Draft has officially concluded, leaving the newly minted rookie class facing a tough road ahead.

Only 144 roster slots are available throughout the league’s 12 teams, the reason why the players are sometimes referred to as the “144.” And Monday’s draft picks are set to join a large group of established players competing for those same roster spots, from seasoned veterans to young athletes determined to prove their value on the court.

Last year, just 15 of the league’s 36 draftees made it onto their drafting team's opening-day squad.

In reality, there are oftentimes fewer than 144 spots available, as not every team maxes out their roster. Per the league's CBA, each team roster must maintain a minimum standard of 11 players, but those lists can include players out with injuries or on other forms of leave. Players can also be assigned to short-term hardship contracts, something waived players must be prepared for at any point during the season.

Earlier this week, Laeticia Amihere — a 2022 national champion with South Carolina who currently plays for the Atlanta Dream — took to TikTok to provide some insight into the WNBA training camp process. 

"You can either get drafted on Draft Night, or you can get signed by a team," she said. "Once that happens, you go to training camp literally like two weeks later... Basically everybody's got to try out. There's 12 roster spots, and there's like 18 people at the at the trial."

@laeticiaamihere Replying to @dantavius.washington #wnba #draft ♬ original sound - Laeticia Amihere

Amihere also had an important point to make: Getting cut does not signify a player’s abilities. 

"If you get cut after training camp, that does not mean you're not good," she said. "That does not mean that player sucks, don't stop supporting that player. Literally, there's so many reasons somebody can get cut."

"If you guys look at the best players in the league, most of them have bounced around teams," she added. "And I promise you it is not a bad thing, it's just how the league is."

Things, however gradually, are changing. With Golden State's WNBA team scheduled to launch in time for the 2025 season, league expansion is just around the corner. On Monday, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the league is aiming to grow to 16 teams by 2028. But by then, it might be too little too late for the generation of talent emerging from an increasingly competitive NCAA system.

WNBA draft shatters records with 2.45 million viewers

wide shot of BAM during the 2024 WNBA Draft
It wasn't just attendees that were glued to the on-stage action at the 2024 WNBA Draft. (Photo by Melanie Fidler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday night’s WNBA draft added to the nationwide uptick in record-breaking women's sports viewership, pulling in 2.45 million viewers throughout the nearly two-hour broadcast and peaking at 3.09 million, according to an ESPN release. 

That number shatters the previous draft viewership record — 601,000 in 2004 — which was fueled primarily by then-No. 1 pick Diana Taurasi entering the league after UConn's historic three-peat March Madness performance.  

The 2023 WNBA draft drew 572,000 viewers, the most for any televised WNBA event since 2.74 million tuned in to NBC for a Memorial Day matchup between the New York Liberty and Houston Comets back in 2000.

While many came to watch Caitlin Clark get drafted No. 1 overall, it’s important to note that viewership didn’t take a massive dip after the superstar shooter left the stage. The numbers show that a bulk of the audience stuck around to watch the remainder of the show, making 2024's event not just the most-viewed WNBA draft in history, but also the most-viewed WNBA program to ever air on ESPN platforms.

Draft Day's popularity is yet another sign indicating an expected rise in WNBA regular season viewership. Clark and Iowa's NCAA tournament showdown with the Chicago Sky-bound Kamilla Cardoso's South Carolina side drew a record 18.7 million to ABC's Sunday afternoon broadcast. Banking on this trend, 36 of Indiana's upcoming 40 games are set to be shown on national television. In-person ticket sales are also soaring, leading the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces to re-home their matchup with the Fever to a venue that can accommodate some 6,000 more fans.

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