Rose Lavelle solidified her status as the breakout star of the World Cup for the U.S. women’s national team on Sunday, and her rapid rise has surprised even her.
Lavelle scored the USWNT’s second goal of the night against the Netherlands in the World Cup final, giving her side a two-goal advantage it would maintain in a 2-0 win.
Wtih 20 minutes left and the U.S. up one goal, the 24-year-old took a pass from Sam Mewis and drove forward into space as the Dutch defense dropped back. Lavelle then got the ball onto her favored left foot before slamming home the biggest goal of her career thus far.
“I felt like over the course of the game it was hard to find that kind of space, they were sitting in a little bit,” Lavelle said.
“So finally when there was an opportunity to take space I decided to go for it and thankfully it worked out for me.”
Lavelle's team-mates had a feeling it was going to work out from the early stages of the play.
"Oh my god I freaking lost it! It was insane," U.S. defender Kelley O’Hara said of Lavelle's goal. "I knew it was going in when she was driving with the ball.
“She just does things casually that are just out of this world, it's ridiculous."
Lavelle saved her best for last this World Cup, turning in a dazzling performance against England in the semifinal before a hamstring injury cut her night short.
But thankfully for the USWNT, she would recover in time for the final and put the seal on what’s been a breakout World Cup for her.
“Just the culmination of a fantastic tournament for her,” Megan Rapinoe said of her team-mate's goal.
Lavelle was awarded the Bronze Ball after the match as the World Cup’s third-best player behind Rapinoe and England's Lucy Bronze, but she was as humble as ever after a performance that solidified her status among the world’s elite.
“It’s wild how far I’ve come and it’s so surreal,” Lavelle said. “I just won a World Cup with people I grew up idolizing and I can’t put it into words, it’s amazing.”
After Lavelle missed a year with a recurring hamstring injury, U.S. manager Jill Ellis immediately put her back into a prominent role ahead of World Cup qualifying last fall.
Ellis’s faith has now been vindicated in a big way and for Lavelle, it's likely only the beginning.