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Cincinnati's Soccer Star Rose Lavelle Shines As U.S. Women's Team Wins 8-0 At TQL Stadium

United States midfielder Rose Lavelle (16) celebrates scoring a goal during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against Paraguay, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Cincinnati.
Aaron Doster
United States midfielder Rose Lavelle (16) celebrates scoring a goal during the first half of an international friendly soccer match against Paraguay, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Cincinnati.

On a rainy Tuesday night at TQL Stadium, the United States Women's Soccer team defeated Paraguay 8-0 with help from the Queen City's own Rose Lavelle.

This was the team's fifth match in Cincinnati - the first at TQL - and follows their bronze medal finish in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. They played in front of 22,515 fans.

Lavelle scored the first goal of the match in the first four minutes and added three assists. Team captain Alex Morgan nabbed a hat trick in 52 minutes. Two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, who is wrapping up her playing career this year, came on as a sub for Morgan and grabbed a goal as well.

With the opportunity to perform in front of her family and friends, Lavelle delivered. In 2004, she attended the U.S. women's match at Paul Brown Stadium. She said it was huge to have players to look up to growing up like Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Cincinnati's Heather Mitts.

"I think it's cool that it's kind of come full circle and I can give back to the sport in the same way that it has given to me," Lavelle said. "I don't know if it's fully ever hit me yet, the position I'm in, but I feel so grateful and I'm sure there's going to be so many more Cincinnati players doing some very big things."

Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski had nothing but positive things to say about his star player, noting that her future could be even brighter.

"She's a very important part of our team, an integral part of our team," Andonovski said. "I have no doubt that she will stay like that or keep getting better in the future."

Excitement was brewing before the match at The Pitch right across the street from the stadium. Members from the American Outlaws supporters' group were buzzing after a 9-0 victory over Paraguay last Thursday. AO board member Donald Wine said the match could mean a lot to local fans attending their first national team match, especially younger ones getting to see local standout Lavelle.

"In the case of Rose, she's so young that players that's she influencing might be in the stands with us tonight," Wine said. "We have a next generation of ladies who are ready to go, we have a next generation of men who are doing the same thing, and because of that, there's people who are going to these games who might say, 'Hey, I can be the next Rose Lavelle. I can be on the national team and maybe one day, play with my hero.' "

AO Cincinnati President Todd Smith remembers when soccer wasn't as mainstream in America as a child compared to today.

"To be a fan of it, to follow it was kind of nerdy and dorky to where now it's grown into this mainstream thing where the women are the best in the world, we've got men playing on Champions League champion teams all over Europe, they're up-and-coming," Smith said. "It's fun to see that build through the last 20 years, so it's just an exciting time for us."

The team last played in Cincinnati in 2017, defeating New Zealand 5-0 at Nippert Stadium. Prior to that, the U.S. women's team played at Paul Brown Stadium in 2004 during a 10-game celebration tour after winning Olympic gold in Athens, Greece, and in 2008's "Achieve Your Gold Tour." They beat the Canadian team 7-0 during its first match in Cincinnati in 1993 at Galbraith Field.

The USWNT will face Korea Republic in the the remaining two matches Oct. 21 and Oct. 26 in Kansas City and St. Paul, respectively. The U.S. Men's Soccer Team will play Mexico at TQL Stadium in a men's World Cup qualifying match Nov. 12.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.