Former Big Ten standout Lavelle shines in World Cup final

Now being called the future of U.S. soccer, former Wisconsin standout Rose Lavelle made waves for the team in the World Cup final against the Netherlands.



Rachel Daly of England battles for possession with Rose Lavelle of the USA during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Semi Final match between England and USA at Stade de Lyon on July 02, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Richard Heathcote/Getty Images/TNS)

Pete Mills, Assistant Sports Editor

In the 69th minute of the World Cup final, American midfielder and former Wisconsin player Rose Lavelle wove through the Dutch defense, kicking the game-clinching goal into the back of the net to put the U.S. up 2-0 over the Netherlands, a score that held for the remainder of the game.

The score helped the U.S. became only the second country in history to win two World Cups in a row.

Lavelle’s goal — scored with an injured hamstring — was the break for the U.S. The Netherlands had held the U.S. scoreless in the first half — the first time in this year’s Cup that the American women had been held scoreless in a single half.

A fortunate call in the box allowed forward Megan Rapinoe to open up scoring as the U.S. took a 1-0 lead later in the second half. But Lavelle’s goal was the lone score of the match in regular time.

Now only 24 years old, Lavelle was in a pizza shop the last time the U.S. won the World Cup. With her goal in the final, Lavelle became the second-youngest American to score in a World Cup title game, behind only Alex Morgan.

With this year’s event likely the last World Cup for both Rapinoe and veteran Carli Lloyd, young players such as Lavelle are a welcome sight for the U.S. program.

Lavelle posted strong numbers during her time as a Big Ten soccer player, 2013 to 2016. She was the top-ranked freshman in her class, leading the Badgers with 73 shots on goal and ranking second on the team in scoring with 6 goals. In her junior season, in 2015, the Cincinnati native was named a first-team All-American, the first time a Badger had earned the honor since 1991.

Even with young standouts such as Lavelle and goalie Alyssa Naeher taking the international stage by storm, well-known veterans were still the lifeblood of the American team. Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick for the U.S. in the 2015 World Cup final, was more of a moral leader for the team in this year’s tournament. But the crowd favorite still entered the game to a standing ovation with just a few minutes left in the match, moments after Rapinoe was subbed out in another emotional moment for another iconic American player.

Lavelle was not the only Big Ten representative in the World Cup — American head coach Jill Ellis headed the Illinois soccer program for two years in the 1990s. The English native is only the second coach in history to win back-to-back World Cup finals.

The U.S. team is being dubbed one of the most accomplished teams in sporting history. With the event over, the program’s focus will move forward to the 2020 Olympics and beyond. The current U.S. team captains — Lloyd, Rapinoe, and Morgan — are all at least 30.

Although the following days will likely be filled with celebrating, there will be many moves centered on the American team’s future. It seems to be in good hands — or perhaps feet — thanks to Lavelle.

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