CINCINNATI - Hometown soccer star Rose Lavelle said she was "over the moon" with excitement when she heard that her U.S. Women’s National Team would play an international friendly at Nippert Stadium.
"This is such an exciting opportunity for everybody to see how awesome of a ... soccer city this is," said Lavelle, who is looking forward to soaking in the cheers of local fans so enchanted by their pro men's team that Cincinnati is being called "Soccer City USA."
FC Cincinnati announced Friday that it will host Lavelle and the U.S. Women’s National Team in an international friendly against New Zealand on Sept. 19. The match will be at 7:30 p.m. at Nippert Stadium and nationally televised on FS1.
WATCH Lavelle speak about the Women's National Team return to Cincinnati in the video player above.
Tickets will go on sale July 21 at 10 a.m. only through ussoccer.com and by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets will be sold at Nippert Stadium only on the day of the match, according to an FC Cincinnati release.
Lavelle, a 2013 Mount Notre Dame grad, said she attended FC Cincinnati's win over the MLS Chicago Fire last month and was impressed by the electricity and crowd of more than 32,000.
"The atmosphere was incredible," Lavelle said at an FC Cincinnati news conference.
Lavelle was 9 years old when she attended a Women's National Team game at Paul Brown Stadium in 2004 and was inspired by watching Mia Hamm and other U.S. stars, and she hopes today's young players will be inspired by watching the current team.
"I think it's a great time to bring women's soccer back to the city, especially with so much buzz and excitement," Lavelle said. "I remember watching Mia and Julie (Foudy) and Kristine Lilly and all these soccer legends playing at Paul Brown Stadium and it was such an inspiration ... They were my role models. To see them playing in person was so surreal.
"It made me realize how much I wanted to be in their shoes someday. And I hope that this game can serve the same purpose to young players here."
The CDA will be run jointly by two long-time competing clubs, Kings Hammer Soccer Club and Cincinnati United, which are coming together to field Under 14, U15, U17 and U19 teams.
"It's the model of how this should work," Berding said.
The academy concept was created by U.S. Soccer to accelerate the development of world-class female players and includes the most elite talent in the country. Training starts in August and matches begin over Labor Day weekend with the goal of developing more Rose Lavelles.
Proceeds from the sale of FC Cincinnati license plates will benefit the Cincinnati Development Academy, Berding said.
FC Cincinnati and local soccer fans should make the perfect hosts for the Women’s National Team. US Soccer recently recognized Cincinnati as “Soccer City USA” in an article on its website. Rabid crowds of 32,287 and 30,160 turned out at Nippert Stadium last month for FC Cincinnati’s games in the U.S. Open Cup tournament, and 35,061 came out last year for an international friendly with Crystal Palace of the English Premier League.
In 2004, the Women’s National Team featuring St. Ursula Academy grad Heather Mitts visited Cincinnati and routed New Zealand 6-0 before 18,806 fans at Paul Brown Stadium. It was part of a 10-city celebration tour after the U.S. team won the Olympics. In 2008, 5,877 watched the U.S. women and South Korea play a scoreless tie at PBS.
Lavelle was the No. 1 pick in this year's National Women’s Soccer League draft by the Boston Breakers and has two goals in eight games. She was a four-year varsity starter for Mount Notre Dame and the Cougars’ all-time leading goal scorer (57 goals). Lavelle went on to star at the University of Wisconsin as a three-time All-American.