Keeping her team first

Miranda Hanson deflects attention the same way she defends a soccer net: extremely well.

The senior goalkeeper for the Mountlake Terrace Hawks girls soccer team is undeniably a gifted athlete. Just check her resume:

* four-year starter

* two All-Wesco South first team selections

* 18 career shutouts

* a scholarship offer to play for Seattle University (which she verbally accepted last month)

The list goes on and on.

But no matter how many honors Hanson collects, she refuses to admit she’s more special than any other player on Mountlake Terrace, which is 7-2-1 and tied for second place in the Western Conference South Division.

“We don’t have a (star) player, and everybody contributes,” Hanson said last week after practice. “Nobody’s earning publicity (as an individual).”

Well, thanks to this story that last part is no longer true. But Hanson sure put up a good fight. “I don’t like talking about myself. I’d rather have my team highlighted,” she said.

The 5-foot-7 Hanson becomes a brick wall on the field, diving, leaping, challenging and reaching to shut down her opponent. She’s just as skilled at foiling a curious reporter.

Fortunately, others were eager to gush about Hanson.

“She’s the total package. She’s the best keeper I’ve ever seen play at the high school level,” said Jerry Myers, Terrace’s coach the last 23 seasons.

Hanson started immediately as a freshman and will likely become the school’s first three-time team Most Valuable Player (girls or boys). Outside training has a lot to do with Hanson’s success, Myers said: “She came to the high school already a really good player. She didn’t learn her skills from (me).”

Since age 13, Hanson has worked with former Seattle Pacific University goalkeeper Chuck Granade, who is now the Seattle Sounders men’s goalkeeper coach. Hanson said training sessions with Granade boosted all areas of her net game. “I just worked hard and put everything into it. He pushed me hard and took me a step further than I might have gone,” said Hanson, who also gained valuable experience playing eight seasons with the Terrace-based Northwest Nationals Premier Soccer Club. She played for teams that won three state titles and a regional championship.

“She puts so much time (into soccer) with her other team and she’s so dedicated to what she does,” said Terrace forward Laurelle LaCasse.

With all the success Hanson has had, it’s incredible to think that she essentially became a keeper by default. She first tried the position at age 5 for the Terrace Brier Soccer Club because “nobody else liked it,” Hanson said. “If I was the only one who was gonna play it, then I’d get a lot of playing time.”

Good idea.

“It’s kind of fun,” Hanson said of being a goalie. “It’s just like you’re diving all around. It’s different than other positions.”

As for other positions, Hanson has shown she’s much more than a talented keeper. This season, for the first time in her career at Terrace, she’s contributing in the field. She played center midfielder in the second half of a few comfortable victories.

“She’s great at feeding the ball: putting it to the outside, to the wings, to the forwards, dropping it back,” Myers said. “She has a lot of composure, a lot of poise, and we like the way she controls the middle.”

Even when she’s in at keeper, Hanson often vacates her net to take free kicks well downfield. She has two assists and four goals, second-most on the team, including the game-winner from about 45 yards out to beat Shorecrest 2-1 in overtime on Sept. 28.

“Really, any kick that I feel we have a good chance to score on, she’s taking it. And it’s worked very well for us so far,” Myers said.

Hanson excels in multiple roles, but her stellar work as a goalkeeper means the most to Terrace, which hopes to make a playoff run with a team that returned 13 varsity contributors, including senior defenders Melissa Horton and Megan McGuire. The three experienced co-captains give Terrace a chance to win every game. The Hawks allowed just three goals in their first eight games.

Kamiak (6-3-1) scored two early goals against Terrace on Thursday but Hanson responded, making many of her eight saves in the second half as the Hawks rallied for a 2-2 tie. “She has a calm confidence,” Kamiak coach Beth Stewart said. “She doesn’t seem to get freaked out or let a goal being scored on her rattle her. … She’s obviously very talented.”

Hanson’s distaste for the spotlight keeps Terrace united. “Our team just gets along so well,” said LaCasse, who has scored a team-high seven goals. “We have fun at practice and we have fun at games. There’s no real conflicts between our teammates.”

Asked what word describes Hanson’s game-time demeanor, LaCasse and Myers agreed on “intense.”

Hanson is very aggressive and quick, LaCasse said – and did she mention aggressive? “She goes hard. I’m definitely intimidated by her,” said LaCasse.

“Obviously, she’s a very valuable player to us,” Myers said, “and it’d be great if we had two Mirandas.”

With Hanson’s ability to dominate in the net and in the field, sometimes it seems like Terrace does.

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