Every state has a designated state flower. Wisconsin’s is the wood violet.
But the Badger women’s soccer team may start a petition to change Wisconsin’s to the rose.
Rose Lavelle, a 5’4” midfielder from Cincinnati, has been one of the most dominant players to ever toss on a jersey and take the field for the Cardinal and White.
Lavelle announced her commitment in 2011 and since then has been working toward becoming an all-time great in Wisconsin and the nation.
Not only does Lavelle lead this year’s team in points with 16, goals with six and shots with 73, her name is also plastered all over the record books for Wisconsin soccer.
Lavelle was a second-team All-American in 2014, a first-team All-American in 2015 and All-Big Ten conference from 2013-2015. And she will probably earn more accolades once this season comes to an end.
Early on in the preseason, Lavelle was named one of the top players in the nation, and the top player in the Big Ten. Looking at the charts now, nothing has changed. Lavelle has been consistent all season and done just what she came here to do.
“It’s really nice because there are obviously a lot of really good players and to be considered in that bunch is really awesome,” Lavelle said.
She refused to credit for all of her success, however.
“At the same time you can’t read too much into it. It is a team sport and I wouldn’t be getting that recognition if I weren’t on the team that I’m on,” Lavelle added. “I wouldn’t be getting that recognition without my teammates and the work they put in to me being a better player.”
This year’s Wisconsin team has been resilient and aggressive all season. It had its ups and downs, but behind the leadership of Lavelle, senior midfielder Michaela Powers and redshirt junior goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem, the team has been able to battle back and make this season one to remember.
Wisconsin suffered a big loss early in the season to Big Ten foe Indiana on the road by a score of 3-2. After that game, the Badgers went on a nine-game unbeaten streak.
Wisconsin went across the border and took down rival Minnesota. They battled Nebraska at home to a double-overtime draw and tied Michigan on the road, eventually losing in penalty kicks, before they waited patiently for the NCAA tournament committee to call their name.
Lavelle pointed to the game in Bloomington as a key to Wisconsin’s campaign.
“The way we turned it around after our loss to Indiana, that was the moment that really defined our season and how we responded to that,” Lavelle said. “I think it defined how we wanted our program to be not only this year but in the future. We came back after that game and ended up beating Minnesota and I think that turn around and switch in mentality is what I’m most proud of.”
Lavelle was part of last year’s team that was left out of the NCAA tournament. Coming back for her final season and being able to say she made it, with a record of 5-2-4 in the Big Ten and 9-4-8 overall, is something she will always cherish.
“It’s really awesome and as a senior it’s really nice to be able to end my career saying I made it to the NCAA,” Lavelle said.
But she knows there is a bigger picture.
“At the same time we still have a job to get done. It’s not over yet. We still have some things we want to accomplish,” Lavelle said.
The Badgers hosted round one of the NCAA tournament and welcomed the Golden Eagles of Marquette, a long time in-state rival, to Madison. Wisconsin fought for 28 minutes before breaking the 0-0 tie thanks to a goal by none other than Lavelle.
She found the back of the net in the 29th minute to make it a 1-0 game, which is how the contest would end. The goal was Lavelle’s second game winner and sixth goal of the season. It was also Lavelle’s 22nd score of her career.
“It [the goal] was really exciting,” Lavelle said. “Honestly I’m just happy whenever we score. We obviously needed a goal in that game and luckily I was able to put one in the back of the net.”
Wisconsin is guaranteed at least one more game as they travel south to Gainesville, Florida this Friday to take on the No. 1 seeded Florida Gators. This second-round visit is Wisconsin’s 10th second-round appearance in NCAA history.
Despite being the underdogs, Lavelle knows what she and her teammates are capable of.
“We can’t look at the seed or who’s projected to win. We know that we have every capability of going out and winning,” said Lavelle. “I think that’s our biggest thing, having confidence when we step out on the field, believing in our abilities and the talent that we have.”
Not only will their goal for the game be mental, but they will also have a job to do tactically. “Working on shutting down their players and how they want to attack us from the back and from the midfield,” said Rose about the team’s game plan.
Regardless of Friday’s outcome, Lavelle knows her career isn’t over, and has plans to continue playing after leaving the Badgers behind.
“My plan is to enter the draft,” Lavelle said. “And from there just train and see where soccer takes me.”
Lavelle is ranked as the number one midfielder in the 2017 draft for the Women’s National Soccer League. She is also noted as potentially being the number one overall pick.
“I just want to be seen as somebody that has loved soccer, loved the team and has put everything into it,” Lavelle said.
The Badgers will face the University of Florida at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium this Friday. The second and third round of the tournament will be played at this location, but the Badgers are taking it one step at a time.
The first whistle will be blown at 7 p.m. and coach Paula Wilkins, Wisconsin fans and the team as a whole can expect an exciting game from a top team in the nation and an underdog.
As far as Lavelle goes, whether the season ends on Friday, or ends with a trophy hoist in San Jose, Calif., she has planted her name in the record books and left a lasting legacy at Wisconsin.