Dayton Dutch Lions general manager Corey Whisenhunt was a player for the club when Rose Lavelle was playing on the women’s team.
Whisenhunt first crossed paths with Lavelle in 2014 when she joined the Dutch Lions for the summer after her freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, and even then it was obvious she was a special player.
Five years later, it’s especially fun to recall those connections and Lavelle’s time in Dayton. She scored an insurance goal to help the U.S. Women’s National Team beat The Netherlands, 2-0, in the World Cup final Sunday in France.
“She came in (with the Dutch Lions), and every game she played, it was a woman playing against girls,” Whisenhunt said Monday. “Rose does all the little things correctly. She’s a clean player, who just does everything well. She’s fun to watch.”
Lavelle, a 24-year-old midfielder and native of Cincinnati, played for the Dutch Lions in 2014 and 2016 while on break from Wisconsin but had also been a part of the U.S. youth national teams up until her senior squad debut in 2017.
A 2013 graduate of Mount Notre Dame, Lavelle has made 33 appearances with the U.S. women’s national team and has 10 goals, including three in the World Cup. She had two goals in a 13-0 win over Thailand in the group stage opener June 11 and then a rocket strike in the final to finish off the Dutch and help the U.S. repeat as World Cup champions.
“I was so glad we scored a second goal so it wasn’t just a PK (penalty kick) to win it,” Whisenhunt said. “For Rose Lavelle to do it, it was the icing on the cake. I would put it right beside Brandi Chastain’s (1999 World Cup final winning penalty kick) goal as the biggest in history.”
Samantha Mewis played a ball to Lavelle, who said she saw space and took advantage of it. As she crossed into the box, she put the ball on her left foot and let it fly, the momentum lifting her clear off her feet. Netherlands goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal dove, but she had no chance at stopping the ball, and everyone watching was left with mouths agape.
The Americans got their first goal of the final from Megan Rapinoe on a penalty kick. Both scorers had been hampered by hamstring injuries going into the final but showed no signs of limitations Sunday.
Rapinoe was awarded the Golden Boot for best player in the tournament, while Lavelle was awarded the Bronze Ball, given to the third-best player. Whisenhunt said it’s nice to have the Dutch Lions connected to such a rising star.
“It’s huge,” he said. “She’s a huge role model for all the girls and soccer players in general. She goes out and does her job, she’s a true soccer player. To be in that level, holding up a trophy, it’s something every player dreams about, and she is living it. It won’t be her last one for sure.”
»LOOKING BACK: Lavelle splits time between Dutch Lions, national team
Whisenhunt watched every USWNT game of the World Cup at Dayton Beer Company, where there were standing room only crowds for each match.
The interest wasn’t surprising to Whisenhunt, though. He’s seen soccer rising in this area over the past several years.
The Dutch Lions didn’t field women’s teams for two years after Lavelle left but now is back in Women’s Premier League Soccer competition. Dayton was 6-1 to lead the Valley division with Lavelle playing forward in 2016.
“We decided why not bring a team back?” Whisenhunt said. “Women’s soccer is huge. It has not been the greatest season, but we’ve had huge turnout. Every game more and more people are coming out, and I believe having Rose Lavelle as a player that played for our organization was huge.
“We are humbled and glad she was a part of our organization as well as the Southern Ohio soccer community.”
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