If Rose Lavelle has a passion besides soccer and her English Bulldog, Wilma Jean, it’s her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The U.S. women’s national soccer team midfielder never misses a chance to talk about the “Queen City.” And on Tuesday night, she delivered on the field for the 22,515 hometown fans at TQL Stadium, notching a goal and three assists in the first 15 minutes of the USWNT’s 8-0 win over Paraguay. The result capped a two-game series of friendlies as part of the team’s fall tour.
“It was special to be able to step out there in front of all my family and friends and the city that has built me into who I am today,” Lavelle said after the game. “It was incredible.”
Lavelle opened the scoring with a header in the fourth minute, and was quite surprised by it.
“Casey [Krueger] served in a great ball,” she said. “Honestly, the three or four times I’ve had a header in the box, it’s gone the complete opposite direction I’ve intended, so I don’t know how it ended up going the way I actually wanted it to.”
There's no place like home 🏡 @roselavelle got the hometown crowd going wild EARLY! pic.twitter.com/Uo8JxfpHBu— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) September 21, 2021
There's no place like home 🏡 @roselavelle got the hometown crowd going wild EARLY! pic.twitter.com/Uo8JxfpHBu
Just two minutes later Lavelle assisted Sophia Smith’s first international career goal. In the eighth minute, Lavelle found Alex Morgan in the box for a header of her own, the first goal of Morgan’s hat trick in the game.
Joining Lavelle in the center of the pitch were Catarina Macario and Andi Sullivan. All three of them led the USWNT’s playmaking with their creativity throughout the game. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski says he challenge them to go through the middle as much as possible, and he wanted the rest of the team to put the trio in situations where they had to solve different problems.
When it came to the midfield’s defending, Andonovski was glowing over Lavelle.
“Rose Lavelle is the best in defending transition in the world,” the coach said. “There’s not a player who transitions as well as she does. Because of her creativity, and because of how good she is on the ball or in possession, we don’t talk as much about how good she is out of possession. She’s not just world class, she’s the best in the world in that situation of the game.”
Lavelle was subbed off in the 70th minute to a full standing ovation. She was later awarded Insiders Woman of the Match honors with 57.9 percent of the votes.
One goal, three assists and one incredible night in Cincinnati for the one & only @roselavelle pic.twitter.com/mWqBN5skgu— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) September 22, 2021
One goal, three assists and one incredible night in Cincinnati for the one & only @roselavelle pic.twitter.com/mWqBN5skgu
The USWNT scored just two more goals after Lavelle left the field. The first came from Carli Lloyd, who scored five in the first match against Paraguay to begin her farewell tour. The final score came off the foot of Macario, her second of the game and third-ever international career goal.
The USWNT now has a 60-game home unbeaten streak, including 55 wins and five draws. They are one win away from tying the longest home winning streak in team history.
When Lavelle was asked after the game whether her goal in the fourth minute was her favorite of her career, the 26-year-old laughed and said no. She added that her top choice wouldn’t even be the one she scored in the 2019 World Cup final that won her the Bronze Ball and helped the USWNT capture the title.
Her favorite goal happened in high school. As a freshman at Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati, she scored in the last 25 seconds of a game against the second-seeded team during a time when she and her sister, a senior, were playing together.
“I got to hug my sister!” Lavelle said. “She was the first person I got to celebrate with.”
Lavelle’s answer was a fitting ending to Tuesday night’s homecoming, in which she combined the two things that matter most to her: soccer and being around her family and friends in the city she loves.