Best Of 2020

Best Women’s World Cup MVP: Rose Lavelle

Cincinnati’s Rose Lavelle had a big year in 2019. The U.S. Women’s soccer player scored three pivotal goals on the team’s journey to a World Cup tournament win and scored one of just two goals against the Netherlands to seal the U.S. victory. She also received the Bronze Ball, an award signifying she was one of the three best players in the Cup. The triumph represents a dizzying pinnacle for the 24-year-old. Fifteen years ago, Lavelle was 9 years old and raptly watching the victorious 2004 U.S. women’s Olympic team play an exhibition match at Paul Brown Stadium. Soon, she was dressing like Mia Hamm, the star of the 1999 U.S. team that won the World Cup, for a school project at Cincinnati’s St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic School. It wasn’t a phase. Lavelle played for the Cincinnati United Premier team, graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School and went to the University of Wisconsin. Four years ago, she was playing in a summer league for Seattle Sounders FC when U.S. Women’s soccer coach Jill Ellis asked her to the team’s camp. She didn’t make the team in time for the Olympics, but showed promise. Then, in 2017, she suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined her for an entire year. Lavelle persevered and, with the aid of her virtuosic ball-handling abilities and quickness, scored the final goal of the second World Cup victory in a row for the U.S. Women’s team. It would be an understatement to say people — both in Cincinnati and around the world — have taken notice. Lavelle received congratulations from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and a host of other elected officials. A local sports reporter nominated her for a true Cincinnati tribute — a statue and Skyline Chili for life — and there’s even a mural of her at The Banks. And of course, there has been an avalanche of national plaudits, as well as eager looks to the future. Lavelle is an up-and-coming star on a team of seasoned veterans, many of whom are expected to move on soon. It will be an exciting four years both on and off the pitch.