Of all the attributes that make Rose Lavelle a world-class soccer player, heading the soccer ball isn't one of them.
And yet she scored four minutes into the U.S. women's national team's Tuesday match against Paraguay via a thumping, authoritative header.
"Honestly, the past three or four times I've had a header in the box, it's gone like the complete opposite direction I intended," Lavelle said. "I don't know how I made it go the way I actually wanted it to but, good thing."
It was simply that kind of night for Lavelle. Seemingly everything she did went correctly as Lavelle led the USWNT to an 8-0 win against Paraguay at TQL Stadium with an engaged, lively crowd of 22,515 in attendance.
Lavelle directly contributed to four goals in the win, and had three assists to go along with her headed goal by the 15th minute of the rout of Paraguay.
The game, and Lavelle's performance in particular, will go down as one of the most memorable in the young history of the stadium.
"I think I'm probably going to say this over and over again: It was just so special," Lavelle said. "Just to be able to step out there in front of all my family and friends. Again, this is a city that I feel like has built me into who I am today. It was incredible."
Tuesday's match was in stark contrast to the last time Lavelle played in Cincinnati.
She made her first USWNT appearance in Cincinnati Sept. 19, 2017, back when FC Cincinnati was in its lower-league days and the city was still fighting for international attention as a soccer destination.
On that night, it was enough just to see the hometown product on the field at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium. Lavelle was recovering from a hamstring injury that called her availability into question for the friendly against New Zealand.
In the end, Lavelle started but exited the match after just 32 minutes as she worked to rebuild her match fitness post-injury. The night was still a success and a point of pride for all involved, even if Lavelle's appearance was more of a cameo than a starring role.
For Tuesday's return act by Lavelle, who has since won the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and major individual honors, suffice it to say she met higher expectations.
USWNT legend Carli Lloyd scored her 134th career national team goal in the match, and star Alex Morgan tallied a hat-trick, but Lavelle outshone her teammates and the competition, delighting the crowd.
The love affair with the jammed TQL Stadium on a soggy night was evident from when Lavelle led her teammates out for pre-match warm-ups until post-match interviews, where head coach Vlatko Andonovski heaped lavish praise on her.
"In particular with Rose Lavelle, she's special. You saw that with the first few goals," Andonovski said. "She had impact scoring the goal or assisting on the goals. That's who she is, she's a very important part of our team – an integral part of our team – and I have no doubt she will stay like that or keep getting better in the future."
Andonovski would later add Lavelle demonstrated some of her world-class ability in the contest, which was also a stark contrast to the September 2017 friendly when Lavelle was still breaking through with then-U.S. head coach Jill Ellis' side.
"I want to say that Rose Lavelle is probably the best in defensive transition in the world," Andonovski said. "There's no player that transitions as well as she does, and I know that because of her creativity, because of how good she is on the ball or in possession, we don't talk as much about how good she is out of possession but she's not just world class. She's the best in the world in that situation of the game."
Lavelle went 70 minutes on Tuesday. She left the field to a standing ovation.
She addressed the stadium on-field afterward, thanking Cincinnatians for their support.
Like Lavelle's performance in the match, the night offered a little bit of everything for the Mount Notre Dame High School and Cincinnati United Premier product.
"I think it just speaks to how much pride this city has just in general," Lavelle said of the reception fans gave her. "I feel like as proud as people are of me, I feel just as proud to be able to represent the city... It was great and the night did not disappoint."