By Lucas Rains
RAVENNA – Teenage sisters who don’t get along can create a lot of negative energy.
The Hanson sisters are the offensive sparkplugs for the Ravenna girls soccer team.
Sydney, a junior, leads the team with 13 goals. Audrey, a senior, has nine goals and a team-high seven assists.
The duo has helped the Bulldogs start the season 11-5 after finishing 10-9-1 a year ago.
With only a year between them, the Hanson sisters have been playing on the same team for most of their lives. Besides soccer, they also played varsity volleyball for Ravenna.
Both learned a great deal from their older sister, Kailey Hanson, who scored 60 goals in her varsity career for Ravenna.
So it’s no surprise that they complement each other on the field and produce a lot of offense.
A good example came on Monday against North Muskegon, when Sydney scored the first goal with an assist from Audrey, then Audrey scored the second goal with an assist from Sydney.
Ravenna won 3-1, clinching second place in the West Michigan Conference regular season standings, the best finish in program history.
The Bulldogs also beat Shelby 1-0 Wednesday night in the opening round of the league tournament, with a goal from Sydney Hanson.
“It’s really nice to have (Sydney) on the same field because we just know each other so well and how we play,” Audrey said. “It’s really weird when she’s not out there.”
“We’ve been on the same team for our entire lives, so we are more comfortable with each other than we might be with other players,” Sydney said. “I think it definitely gives us an edge on the field.”
Ravenna Coach Sean Wilson is thrilled to have a pair of talented sisters who work cooperatively toward the same goal.
“They don’t panic,” Wilson said. “For a lot of girls at this level, there is panic. They’re just really good athletes and I think it definitely helps that they’re so comfortable with one another.
“The thing I noticed with these two, is that they are more comfortable being constructive with one another. They understand the game and what it takes to improve.”
Sydney, a forward, scores a lot of her goals because of her speed. Wilson calls her “the fastest player on the team.”
“She has a really great finishing presence when she’s around the net,” Wilson said. “There are times when she’s in the offensive zone and she has this mindset where she feels like nobody can stop her.
“Where she’s made a huge improvement is in pro-active running. That means that she runs for the pass before it’s passed. She’s gotten good at running along the back line before the ball is played. That’s something that takes a long time to develop.”
Wilson used the term “workhorse” to describe how Sydney attacks the offensive zone, and often scores two or three goals in single games.
“I just try to not think too much when I shoot because then I’ll miss,” Sydney said with a laugh. “I push myself as hard as I can. Last season I scored 16 goals, so I wanted to push myself to get to 20 this year.”
Audrey, a midfielder, is more focused on getting her teammates involved and creating scoring chances for others.
“My goal coming into this season was to lead the team in assists,” Audrey said. “So that’s definitely been something I have been focused on. Getting good looks for my teammates is huge for us.”
Audrey has made great strides with her passing, especially to forwards running ahead of the pass.
“(Audrey) has made a huge improvement on getting the ball to those forwards making those pro-active runs,” Wilson said. “We aren’t just kicking and hoping it ends up going to one of our players anymore.”
Several other players have made huge contributions to Ravenna’s breakout season, as well.
One is Morgan Abbott, who has been the goalkeeper for all but one game, which Ravenna lost to Montague. Abbott’s best effort came against Whitehall when she recorded 18 saves. Wilson called the win the best in program history.
Another standout has been senior midfielder Emma Pahl. She only has three goals and one assist, but her presence on both the offensive and defensive ends has been huge for Ravenna. Pahl plays all 80 minutes of every game and never needs a break, Wilson said.