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GOAL! Wisconsin businesses host watch parties as US Women’s National Team shoots for soccer history

UW-Madison grad and midfielder Rose Lavelle makes her second Women's World Cup appearance

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United States' Rose Lavelle connects on a header while scoring a goal.
United States’ Rose Lavelle, left, connects on a header while scoring a goal in front of Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, right, and Blessing Demehin during the second half of an international friendly soccer match, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022, in Washington. The U.S. won 2-1. Julio Cortez/AP Photo

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team is poised to make history in Australia and New Zealand with a chance to win the FIFA World Cup for a third time in a row. And Wisconsin businesses are taking advantage of the hype.

Watch parties are planned across the state as the U.S. takes on Vietnam in its first game of the tournament Friday at 8 p.m.

Breese Stevens Field, a soccer stadium in Madison, aired several of the 2022 Men’s World Cup games and plans to do the same for the Women’s World Cup.

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“What better place to watch the game than a giant 13 by 40 screen,” said Conor Caloia, chief operating officer for Forward Madison. “Come and throw down a blanket and have a beverage and something to eat and … root on the Women’s National Team.”

Caloia said Madison fans are particularly excited to have their own Rose Lavelle competing in the sport’s biggest event. Lavelle graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016 and is making her second Women’s World Cup appearance as a midfielder for Team USA.

“It’s awesome that there’s such a close connection to Madison on the Women’s National Team.” Caloia said, adding that Forward Madison pays homage to her at every home game. “We have one of our mascots, Rose Cowbell — who’s named after Rose — and Rose Cowbell is a 1,200 pound Wisconsin dairy cow. So, you know, we’re big Rose Lavelle fans around here and are excited to see her in action hopefully tonight.”

Madison soccer fans can also make their way to Sweet Home Wisconsin, where owner Brett Best will be showing as many games as possible.

“The plan is to be open for the games that we’re legally allowed to be open and selling beverages, which would definitely be the first two (U.S.) games and then into the playoffs, hopefully,” Best told Wisconsin Public Radio’s “Central Time.”

“We do have a small following from mostly my soccer friends and the community that I’m in, but it would be wonderful to grow and have more soccer games viewed all year long,” he added.

The Memorial Union on the UW-Madison campus will also be projecting the game on the big screen.

For Milwaukeeans, Nomad World Pub is hosting a Women’s World Cup Block Party featuring “sizzling BBQ, electrifying music by DJ Shawna, and non-stop football fever,” according to their Facebook.

The United States' team celebrate after winning the 2019 Women's World Cup.
The United States’ team celebrate with the trophy after winning the Women’s World Cup final soccer match between against Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Photo

Analysts are calling the tournament the biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup in history with over 1.4 million tickets sold.

Alejandra Palacios is a sportscaster for Telemundo Wisconsin. She recently spoke to “Central Time” about the tournament and the Badger State connections that are making it all the more exciting.

“Rose Lavelle is obviously a big deal for us in Wisconsin,” Palacios said. “It’s so exciting to have someone from Wisconsin representing the U.S. … she’ll be making her second appearance at the world’s biggest tournament.”

Two UW-Milwaukee alumnae, Chandler McDaniel and Olivia Davies-McDaniel, are also competing on soccer’s biggest stage representing the Philippines.

“Having that Wisconsin connection, I think is just so unique and so special to happen in the FIFA World Cup,” Palacios said.

Lavelle, 28, became a USWNT namesake during the 2019 Women’s World Cup when she scored a key goal, giving the U.S. a 2-0 lead over the Netherlands in the gold medal match.

As part of Team USA, Lavelle has played in 88 games, scored 24 goals and had 20 assists.

Lavelle’s mom took to Twitter Thursday night to wish her daughter good luck, sharing photos of the young soccer star.

As a now-veteran on the team, Lavelle has the added pressure of being a role model and leader among her teammates and soccer fans around the world. But in a 2021 interview with WPR’s “The Morning Show,” Lavelle said pressure can be a privilege.

“When you’re on this team, the expectation is always high and there’s always that pressure, but I think this team has always kind of thrived under those circumstances,” she said. “It’s something that I’m continuing to learn to deal with and compete with … but when you’re put in a position where you have these pressures and expectations it can make it even more fun.”

Monte Ricossa, another sportscaster for Telemundo Wisconsin, told “Central Time” that women’s sports are finally getting the attention they deserve.

“We’ve had the battle with equal pay for a woman and that finally has been overcome … And I think now women really have the opportunity where we’re seeing that the fastest growing major team sport is soccer,” she said.

“Sport is an international language, whether it’s men or women playing, and getting a chance to highlight the Women’s World Cup … It’s just going to be spectacular,” Ricossa added.

Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s game, the USWNT will hit the pitch again July 26 at 8 p.m. against the Netherlands.

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