GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands --- Before starting the interview, the United States’ Rose Lavelle warned that “I am not good at this thing.”
She was referring to not being comfortable in front of television cameras and to have a reporter’s microphone in her face. But this was her moment. And yes, she shone.
The University of Wisconsin freshman said she felt both shocked and overjoyed after winning the Golden Ball award as the best player at the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship. The Americans topped Mexico 4-0 in the final on Sunday at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
“I was really shocked when I was announced as the tournament’s MVP as I thought there were other players from our team that did very well,” said Lavelle, in a statement that aptly underscored the extent of her modesty.
And her coach Michelle French, who conducts the orchestra of a well-tuned team, told CONCACAF.com that the pint-sized Lavelle’s award, adjudicated by the CONCACAF Technical Study Group, was well-deserved.
“I was not surprised as I see how she works in every training session that we have, and she is just so special to us,” French commented.
Even though the midfielder soared above other top-quality performances in the 11-day World Cup qualifying tournament, Lavelle still demands a lot more of herself.
“I always think I can do better, but I think I was solid throughout the tournament, so I guess that somebody saw that and here I am,” Lavelle beamed.
The Cincinnati native intends to make soccer her life. When she said that, there wasn’t the faintest hint of jest.
“That’s the dream (to play professionally) and if I am able to do that it would be awesome,” expressed Lavelle.
Still undecided what she will pursue academically at Wisconsin, Lavelle concedes she is hooked on the game for the time being.
“Right now I just want to major in soccer as I have not yet figured out just yet what I am going to major in at college,” she said in the middle of a mischievous giggle.
The U.S. was outstanding at the tournament from which it, Mexico and Costa Rica booked tickets to the age-group World Cup in Canada this August. The Americans won all five of their matches, scored 29 goals and conceded none.
Even with her team’s imperious rendition throughout the campaign, 18-year-old Lavelle paid tribute to the other teams, especially Mexico, who she thinks “were definitely good”.
“In the game this evening (Sunday) we had trouble scoring in the early part, but eventually we broke them down,” Lavelle added. “Still, I think they proved that they are a good team.”
Looking back at the road to the final, the industrious Lavelle crafted the view that the Group A game against Jamaica, which the U.S. won 3-0, “was perhaps my best performance.”
“For me, I liked the way I handled the ball,” she explained.