LYON, FRANCE — The gravity of her accomplishment hadn’t hit Rose Lavelle yet, she admitted. Not only had she just stepped off the Women’s World Cup pitch as a winner, but she also took home the tournament’s bronze boot award.
It was a far cry from watching the World Cup on TV, as she’d done in 2015.
This time around, she sealed the deal. Her 69th minute dagger doubled the Americans’ 2-0 lead over the Netherlands and set the scoreline for her country’s record fourth World Cup championship.
Afterward, Lavelle stepped to the post-game stage to claim her bronze ball trophy. She climbed up to the platform for the requisite award photos, soon to be joined by teammate Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe slung an arm around her – one established star of the U.S. women’s national team welcoming the newest one to the spotlight.
The 24-year-old Lavelle is one of the fresher faces of this team, playing in her first World Cup on a squad chosen largely for its experience. But the moment hasn’t been too big for her. Lavelle shined in the World Cup, scoring three goals during six matches.
Nowhere was her presence bigger than in Sunday’s final. Lavelle started and played all 90 minutes despite injuring her hamstring during the semifinal match against England and having to be subbed out. On Sunday, she helped hold down a midfield under attack from an aggressive Netherlands team bent on clogging up passing lanes.
And in the 69th minute, she found the seam she’d been gunning for herself all day. Sam Mewis played a ball to Lavelle near the midfield circle – and she took it the rest of the way. Lavelle charged nearly half the length of the field, splitting two defenders atop the box, and launched a bullet past Netherlands goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.
Lavelle immediately jumped into Alex Morgan’s arms and the rest of her teammates soon joined the mob. Many of those players were stars Lavelle grew up watching as a kid and that journey to becoming their peer wasn’t lost on her.
“It’s, like, wild how far I’ve come,” Lavelle said. “And it’s like so surreal to – I just won a World Cup with people I grew up idolizing. I can’t put it into words.”
It was a full-circle moment for Lavelle – and one that represented the newest wave of talent set to take over on this national team.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis built a roster for this World Cup focused on experience. But it’s players like Lavelle who will be the future of the team – and, at least this time around, whose raw talent made up for what she lacked in previous tournament minutes.
This summer’s tournament was not quite a coming-out party for Lavelle, who’s been on the rise for a while. But it solidified of Lavelle’s place on this team moving forward – the kind of player to seal a World Cup win, rather than watch at home as she always had.
After the match, she acknowledged that young players in the stadium Sunday or watching on TV might idolize her, just as she did the players who came before her. With her goal Sunday, Lavelle became the latest in a long line of U.S. star power stretching across multiple generations.
“It’s crazy how it comes full-circle and now I kind of get to give back the same way that players on this team had given to me,” Lavelle said. “It’s, like, unreal. I grew up watching this team and just idolizing players that are even still on this team. Now to be a part of it, it’s so surreal.”