By the time Rose Lavelle looked up at Alex Morgan and realized what she just achieved, her face looked like she was going to cry. Somehow, though, she held back tears.
The same can’t be said for fans in Cincinnati.
Because for a city that – consciously or not – prides itself on the people who grow up here, we witnessed one our own literally achieve the biggest accomplishment in her life – on the world’s greatest stage.
On Sunday, Lavelle scored the goal in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final that sealed back-to-back World Cup championships for the U.S. At 24 years old, she accomplished the highest achievement in her craft.
If it ever gets better, it’s unknown how.
Maybe this hasn’t set it for Rose, but it’s certainly set in for fans in Cincinnati
After her goal, fans praised the midfielder on social media. Videos went viral of fans roaring renditions of “She’s One of Our Own” in local bars. (Even in my own family group chat, my sister mentioned her team double man-marking Lavelle when the American international was still a teenager in Mount Notre Dame.)
In the coming days and weeks, messages of praise and pride will continue flowing in.
Because for Lavelle, who describes herself as “obsessed” with Cincinnati, she might be proud of her hometown, but she has no idea how proud everyone here is of her.
This 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup reiterated so many things. On a national level, we witnessed the best USWNT of all time become the second country to win the tournament on back-to-back occasions in the women’s tournament.
At time when political headlines and foreign affairs continue to overshadow the global perception of the U.S., the women’s team rose above it and showcased our country at its best: hard-working people who aren’t cocky as much as confident and stand up for their ideals. More of that, please.
As for women’s soccer, hopefully this isn’t a one-off celebration every four years.
If this World Cup can come to represent anything, it should be an instrumental step in growing women’s soccer in this country. That even goes for the women’s game in Cincinnati.
In previous interviews, FC Cincinnati President Jeff Berding has openly started the club is interested in one day establishing a women’s side if the NWSL enters an expansion phase, similar to MLS.
As for Lavelle, when she last played in Cincinnati, it was with the USWNT in an international friendly against New Zealand at Nippert Stadium. That was in September 2017, when the midfielder was recovering from an injury.
The recovery was enough for Lavelle’s availability in the match to be listed as questionable, but for the player who cried when she learned the National Team was coming to Cincinnati, there was no doubt she’d play.
Of course, when she did, she received a standing ovation. If she returns again soon, either with club or country, you can be sure the response will be even bigger and more humbling.
Maybe her visit to Cincinnati won’t be in a uniform – simply an appearance – but it’ll have a much, much greater meaning.
If past references to Lavelle described her as “Cincinnati native,” that won’t change. But after Sunday, there’s more to add.
Now, it’s Cincinnati native and World Cup champion Rose Lavelle. And that will never get tiring to write.