Women's World Cup 2019: Rose Lavelle defying all odds

Lavelle suffered a hamstring injury during her second game with the USWNT and dealt with several setbacks as she recovered.

Rose Lavelle in action during the first half of the international friendly match between the U.S. and Mexico.   -  Getty Images

As one of the U.S. women’s national team’s rising stars, Rose Lavelle has cemented her place on the team in a short amount of time.

She graduated from Wisconsin in 2016 and became a member of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Boston Breakers, who selected her with the No. 1 overall pick out of the 2017 NWSL draft, the following year.

Lavelle got off to a hot start as she scored two goals in eight games, but she only made 10 appearances for the Breakers after a hamstring injury forced her to miss two months. The following season she joined Washington Spirit — where she currently plays — after Boston folded.

She has been playing with the national team since November 2015, which was right after the USWNT brought home its third World Cup title. Her first goal for the USWNT came April 9, 2017, in a game against Russia.

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“I don’t know if you can ever be ready for that moment of your first cap," Lavelle told Omnisport. "No matter how much you prepare, like I had done so much work leading up to it, but there were still some doubts in my head if I was really good enough to be at that level. Once I got that first game under my belt, it really helped my confidence.”

She was then named to the USWNT roster for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, where she appeared in all five games for the Americans and scored three goals.

With seven goals in 27 international appearances, she could emerge as a breakout star for the U.S. in the 2019 World Cup. 

OVERCOMING ADVERSITY

Lavelle’s road to France hasn’t been an easy one.

The midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in the middle of her rookie season in her second game with the USWNT while facing Norway in 2017. She described it as three muscle tears in her hamstring, and it was later announced that she would be out four to six weeks. 

She re-injured her hamstring again after returning for one start, and sitting out four to six weeks quickly turned into eight months. 

Just when she started feeling ready to return in February 2018 when the team was preparing for the SheBelieves Cup, she felt more sharp pain in her hamstring. Lavelle said doctors told her they found another tear.

"I went into SheBelieves expecting to get cleared to play finally," Lavelle told ESPN. "And then I got an MRI and found out it was going to be another three months. And I had to start all over. That was the moment that it was finally a little too much for me."

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Lavelle returned later that summer and used the 2018 CONCACAF qualifying to her advantage as she worked to regain some of the confidence she lost while watching from the sideline. She scored back-to-back goals for the Americans in a match against Trinidad and Tobago. Just months out from the World Cup she admitted that she didn't feel 100 percent, even though she was improving on the field. 

“I still don’t really feel quite to my full self but I think my touch is there and all that is there. I think it’s more mentally I don’t feel all there yet. And it’s good to have games like these to help boost my confidence and take more steps to get there,” Lavelle told Omnisport in October.

A few months later, Lavelle played a full 90 minutes in a friendly against Japan where she expressed optimism in her recovery and expected to be ready for France.

"I'm feeling good," Lavelle told reporters in March (via Forbes.com). "I'm feeling the best I have since my injury. Hopefully, like the team, I just keep getting better with every game."

A GLANCE AT ROSE LAVELLE'S RESUME

  • Tournament of Nations champion (2018)
  • CONCACAF Women's champion (2018)
  • National Women's Soccer League Player of the Month (April 2017)

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