REIMS, France – Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis both understand the anxiety that comes with potentially missing out on competing in the World Cup.
But on Tuesday night at Stade Auguste-Delaune, both players also found out what it’s like to play in one and score.
Lavelle and Mewis each found the back of the net twice in the United States’ 13-0 blowout over Thailand in its first Group F match. The pair’s strikes contributed to a FIFA Women’s World Cup record for largest margin of victory and were also enormous milestones for two players experiencing the tournament for the first time.
Lavelle had to battle a persistent hamstring injury last year and worried about being fit in time for roster cuts, while Mewis was an alternate four years ago when the U.S. won its third title.
“I was thinking just last night how far I’ve come in a year,” Lavelle said after the game. “It’s wild. It’s been a crazy year, but I’m excited to get to this point.”
Lavelle showed the gains she’s made since her injury and what she brings to the U.S. within 20 minutes on Tuesday. She doubled the Americans’ advantage with a shot from outside the box that went in off Thailand goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying’s fingertips after a strong run through midfield.
Lavelle then secured her brace just before being substituted out for Carli Lloyd in the 56th minute to make it 7-0. Her second tally capped a prolific six minutes in which the U.S. scored four times. Mewis also had two goals during that spell.
“To be out there on the field and interacting with everyone and just seeing everyone’s face when they got a goal or an assist – these are the times that make the harder times worth it,” Mewis said.
While seven different players found the back of the net against Thailand, Lavelle and Mewis were part of a quartet – with Lindsay Horan and Mallory Pugh – to score in a World Cup for the first time.
All four were making their tournament debuts and got the first goal out of the way fast, which could go a long way in easing any pressure they might have about competing in the World Cup.
“These are massive moments for these players, you have to take notice of that,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “For them, it’s fantastic. There’s always going to be that anxiety – it’s the first game of a World Cup – it’s a big moment, and it’s a big moment for these young players.”
Not everyone looked at the final score on Tuesday and thought of Lavelle, Mewis, Horan and Pugh achieving a life-long dream of scoring in a World Cup. The U.S. answered questions about whether the Americans got carried away with running up the score, though both the players and Ellis brushed the pointed questions off and said they respected Thailand by playing them hard.
Lavelle took it a step further, and alluded to the importance of scoring as many goals as possible.
“Goal differential matters in this tournament,” she said. “We didn’t want to take our foot off the gas. We wanted to keep going.”